“Guys are doing their jobs, showing up and being professionals and that’s what I like about it,” says Lorenzo Alexander. Shanahan “holds everybody accountable no matter who you are, or how much you make. Sometimes around the league you get perception if you make more money you can get away with more. I think he actually holds those guys more accountable, because they’re our leaders and they should be showing up and being a good example for the younger guys. Before, I don’t think you saw that going on, especially here.”
It’s why there was no negotiating room with Shanahan when it came to Haynesworth’s lack of fitness and balking, or McNabb’s casualness. In both cases, surely the verdict is now in that the Redskins added by their subtraction. Time and again, McNabb was one of the very last men out to the practice field, ambling down the path still adjusting his socks, despite Shanahan’s insistence on tempo. Time and again, Haynesworth sat in meeting rooms insubordinately talking on his cellphone or reading a newspaper. Anyone see Haynesworth limping and flopping in the fourth quarter for the Patriots against the Chargers on Sunday, while Philip Rivers sprinted by him on a scramble? Look familiar?
The Post's LaVar Arrington explains how he sees "a different team" on the field for the Redskins this year and Mike Jones discusses Rex Grossman's experience last year in Dallas as being beneficial to the quarterback's preparation heading into Monday night's matchup with the Cowboys.
"Every off season the Skins do something to make a big splash - McNabb, Haynesworth, bring back Joe Gibbs, Deion, etc. This off season they tried something different - they brought in new attitudes. It was utterly splash-less but will produce better results than any off season acquisition ever could."
The reality is that it’s almost impossible to make 53 grown men cooperate on anything if your basic authority structure lacks integrity. Uneven standards undermine belief in the basic competency of the organization. Seemingly silly penalties lead to long-yardage third downs — which in turn lead to turnovers and sacks. And so on. Rules, on the other hand, even seemingly silly ones, create the orderly environment that leads to attention to detail that in turn leads to success.
It may be too early to say that the Redskins have completed the transformation to a winning organization, but they are certainly a disciplined one. On Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals they played clean as a whistle; the offense and defense committed just one penalty between them. Two flags came on special teams.
Look at the players Shanahan subtracted from the locker room, and look at who he replaced them with, and in every instance his personnel moves bespoke discipline. He went for good value, lower profile and high character guys who were, above all, disciplined themselves.
“He says something and he does exactly what he says,” remarks Hightower. “He always talks about a standard, but it’s one thing to talk about a standard and another to have a standard, and to enforce it on a daily basis. The thing you won’t find in this locker room is confusion, about our game plan, or our expectation of you and the team. There is no confusion in this locker room, it’s cut and dried. You may like or dislike it but it’s something you have to respect.”