As a former player, I understand how difficult it is to make it into the NFL. I also understand that it takes a special player to make it onto a NFL roster. So here’s where I get confused: I’m okay with media and fans attributing a team’s failure to injuries, but I’m not okay with players and coaches doing so.

Every coach and player has a duty and a responsibility to represent himself and his team the right way. It is not okay for a coach or player to say his team can’t win because five to six starters are out.

Last I checked, the reason a team has more than one player at each position is to have options — in case of injury, poor play or unforeseen events such as suspensions.

Successful teams are built on the concept of “one goes down, another steps up.” So why isn’t this the philosophy that’s being used by the Redskins? It just seems as though the play-calling on defense has been a direct result of a lack of trust for personnel. It’s the same issue for the offense. I don’t pretend to have the antidote to cure the ailments of this team, but I do know that the excuses being lobbed out there aren’t suitable for a regime that has been building a team for three off-seasons.

Losses entering bye weeks are tough to deal with. Teams always want to take the momentum of winning into that week. Bye weeks are a time to heal and prepare for the rest of the season, especially when they are perfectly placed near the midpoint of the schedule.

But with the Redskins falling to 3-6, it’s no surprise this has been a trying week for the team and especially the head coach. Many fans took Sunday’s loss against the Panthers as a clear indication that this is not a very good team right now. Mike Shanahan added insult to injury with his now-infamous post-game news conference that led many to believe he was looking to the future and closing the door on this season. He later clarified his meaning and said the media had misconstrued his comments.

Regardless of what Shanahan truly believes, the truth is that this season is far from over. With five games left against division foes and seven overall, this team still has a chance to make this a good season.

We’ve been given one reason after another as to why this team is struggling, but no one is talking about how the guys on the field have the power to change things.

There should be a strong belief that the players on this roster can get the job done. These guys have been brought here to fit in this system — regardless of a cap penalty or anything else that may have altered decisions. So figure it out. This coaching staff has an open week to debate, deliberate and evaluate. Come next week, Shanahan and his coaches better have a firm grasp of how they will approach the rest of this season.

Whether Shanahan accepts this or not, if this team doesn’t win games the rest of the way, fans will always think back to this week and believe he closed the door on the season in week nine. Hopefully all this serves as enough motivation to salvage this season.

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