Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III backed head coach Mike Shanahan the day after Shanahan declared the rest of the season an evaluation period for the future. Griffin said he knows Shanahan didn’t mean to imply that he is giving up on the team’s hopes for a turnaround this season.
Griffin and the Redskins fell to 3-6 Sunday and are in the midst of their first three-game losing streak of the season. The Redskins are last in the NFC East, and their chances of making the playoffs appear slim. In the last 20 years, only three teams – the Patriots in 1994, the Lions in ’95 and the Jaguars in ’96 — have made the playoffs after starting the season 3-6.
After the loss, Shanahan said, “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. But now we find out what type of character we’ve got and how guys keep on fighting through the rest of the season.”
Griffin said Monday that he believes the Redskins can pull off a dramatic turnaround, and could get some outside help as well.
“I have not talked to coach yet. I know a lot of people are taking that statement and running with it but I don’t feel like he’s throwing in the towel, per se, as what other people are saying,” Griffin told The Post on Monday. “…Right now we are in must-win territory. Even this last game was a must-win, and we didn’t win it. The rest of the league is definitely helping us out by giving the rest of the NFC East teams some losses. So we have to win out, and if we win out we have a really good chance to make the playoffs. So I think that’s what guys are looking at it as. It’s a time where guys either have to perform or they won’t be here next year, and that’s what it comes down to.”
Griffin and the Redskins’ offense are operating without leading wide receiver Pierre Garcon (foot, possible return following the bye) and tight end Fred Davis (Achilles’ tendon, injured reserve). On defense, the Redskins also are missing starters Brian Orakpo, Adam Carriker (both lost for the season) and starting strong safety Brandon Meriweather (knee, possibly returning after the bye).
But Griffin said he believes the Redskins have enough talent on their roster to save their season. The key to the turnaround will be each player holding himself accountable and taking ownership of the team’s fate.
Said Griffin: “We just can’t look for excuses as to why we’re not successful. If I make a bad pass it’s because I made a bad pass, it’s not because [offensive coordinator] Kyle [Shanahan] called a bad play. It’s not because they didn’t block. I’ll never make that excuse. So we just have to find guys and have everybody buy into that, so they don’t leave themselves open for an excuse to be made. It doesn’t matter what the defense does, or any other players – it’s just a matter of owning your mistake and learning from it.”
Griffin led winning teams at Baylor his final two years. His best season was his last, when the Bears went 10-3. But he endured a trying year in 2008, going 4-8. That season, Baylor opened the year with a 3-3 record before finishing 1-5 down the stretch.
Griffin has more hope this year than he did in that season, however.
“It’s similar,” Griffin said. “But I feel like we have the team and come back and pull off a seven-game winning streak here.”