As Questions Arise in Wake of Loss to Lions, Redskins Try to Keep Locker Room Together

All aspects of Coach Jim Zorn's operation are being questioned, but players are sharing the blame and trying to stick together.
All aspects of Coach Jim Zorn's operation are being questioned, but players are sharing the blame and trying to stick together. (By John Mcdonnell -- The Washington Post)
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By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 29, 2009

One day after one of the most embarrassing losses in recent memory, Redskins Coach Jim Zorn declared that his struggling team is "getting better," even as several players said the team lacks identity, momentum and answers.

"We're not a great football team," linebacker London Fletcher said. "Never have been since I've been here. . . . It's been a long time since the Redskins have had a great football team."

Still, less than 24 hours after the Redskins became the first team since December 2007 to lose to the Detroit Lions, Zorn's assessment of his 1-2 team did not involve any blaring alarms, flashing lights or crisis counselors. "In the big picture, I think things are progressing," he said. "We're getting better."

As the Redskins returned home from Detroit and began preparing for Sunday's game against another winless franchise, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Zorn and his team resumed its normal weekly routine: film study, position meetings, sprints. There were no outward signs that Zorn's job was in immediate jeopardy, nor were there many hints that players knew what to expect out of the coming days and weeks.

Zorn told a roomful of reporters that he spoke briefly with team owner Daniel Snyder following Sunday's loss. "I'll be spending a lot of time with him as we go along this week," Zorn said. "No question."

While many players said the locker room still supports its head coach, Zorn's descriptions of the team that emerged from Sunday's loss to the Lions didn't always match the impressions of players.

"We don't have an identity," cornerback Carlos Rogers said. "I don't know what we want to be on offense. I don't know what we want to be on defense."

Zorn disagreed, saying that "losing creates thoughts" and "I don't have that thought."

Cornerback DeAngelo Hall said the team doesn't have "the same fight that we had last year."

"I don't know what the story is," he said, "but you just don't see the same fight, the same determination, the same attitude."

Again, Zorn disagreed, saying that "those are comments that are a real frustration."

While the offense continues to struggle inside the opponent's 20-yard line and the defense inexplicably allowed the Lions to roll up 381 yards of offense and convert 10 of 18 third-down attempts, Zorn said he still has confidence that the collection of players assembled by Snyder and Vinny Cerrato, Washington's executive vice president of football operations, can evolve into a winning football team.

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