Redskins’ loss to Panthers has Coach Mike Shanahan looking to the future
By Mark Maske,
After losing a game that he’d called a must-win for his team to make a playoff push, Washington Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said Sunday that the club will be playing the rest of its season to see who “is going to be on your football team for years to come.”
The Redskins’ record dropped to 3-6 with Sunday’s 21-13 defeat to the Carolina Panthers at FedEx Field. They enter their bye week on a three-game losing streak.
Shanahan called the loss “obviously very disappointing” and said: “A must-win game is to give you a chance to play for a playoff spot. At the midway point when you’re 3-5, it’s got to be a must-win, obviously, to get in the hunt. When you lose a game like that, now you’re playing to see who, obviously, is going to be on your football team for years to come. Now we get a chance to evaluate players and see where we’re at.
“Obviously we’re not out of it statistically,” he said. “But now we find out what type of character we’ve got and how guys keep on fighting through the rest of the season.”
Shanahan said he’d expected the team to play far better with so much at stake, and said he accepted “full responsibility” for the performance.
Asked whether major changes could be in store for the team’s bye week, Shanahan said: “The first thing we do is, we go back and look at the game. Very disappointed right now, very emotional right now, just as everybody would be. So you go back and take a look at who made mistakes and what we need to do as a staff to improve to make sure we eliminate some of those mistakes.
“It’s very disappointing we didn’t play better than we did because I thought we would play very well today and just made too many mistakes.”
Several Redskins players said they weren’t abandoning playoff hopes.
“How many games we got left? Seven?” left tackle Trent Williams said. “I don’t think it’s over. I’m not giving up hope just yet. . . . I’m just not giving up. I’m a competitor. I’m competing until they say it’s no way that you can make the playoffs. And even then, I’m still competing every day on Sundays. That’s just me. That’s my mentality.”
Williams and other players said they didn’t interpret Shanahan’s comments as the coach giving up on making a run at the playoffs.
“I don’t think that means he’s throwing in the towel,” Williams said. “He’s just speaking the truth. I think everybody is going to evaluate players from this point on.”
Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said the Redskins must craft a winning streak or two during the remainder of the season to have a chance to reach the playoffs, adding: “We’ve got to figure out how to do that because I’m tired of being subpar in this league, and a lot of guys are.”
Alexander also said: “He’s the head coach and that’s his perspective. From my perspective, I’m going to continue to fight. Obviously we still have an outside chance of winning. I want to put some wins together. I would like to finish the season on a good note.
“Guys are always playing for the future to be on this team. That’s a yearly thing that you have to deal with and show consistency. I think he’s probably more checking out people as far as if they’re going to check out, being 3-6, just to see how professional they are as far as coming to work every day and continuing to do the things that you would have done if you were 6-2.”
Said linebacker London Fletcher: “Every year you’re being evaluated, regardless of your record. Obviously when you’re in a losing situation, evaluations are a lot harder, a lot tougher. You’re looking to see who really wants to play, especially at this point in the season. You’ve got seven games left to play and you’re in a tight spot. But I think if we win a couple more ballgames over the next few weeks, our outlook is different. You get to 5-6 [or] 6-6 and then hey, you give yourself a chance. I think with the character of this football team, guys will continue to play hard.”
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