The Redskins fell to 0-3 with Sunday’s loss to Matthew Stafford (left) and the Lions. (Richard Lipski/Associated Press)

The Washington Redskins won their final seven regular season games last year to secure the NFC East title. They managed to keep their team basically intact in the offseason despite operating in the second year of their two-year, $36 million salary cap penalty imposed by the NFL. So their 0-3 start to the season has come as a major shock within their locker room.

“Nobody expected to be in this situation,” right tackle Tyler Polumbus said Monday at Redskins Park. “We put a lot into this. We’ve got a great team. We’ve got a lot of talent on this team. We all had a good training camp. So certainly nobody expected to be in this situation.”

Cornerback Josh Wilson called the 0-3 beginning “very surprising,” and said: “Nobody could have told us that it was gonna be like this. But this is a test of our team, a test to see if we are who we say we are. Are we a team that’s gonna never give up? A team with confidence? A team that’s always gonna fight? Like I always say, we got tested last year and we saw what kind of team we had. Well, we’re gonna be the same team that we were last year and never give up.”

The Redskins’ expectations of building on last season’s success perhaps should have been tempered by the fact that quarterback Robert Griffin III was coming off knee surgery in January. Even so, the players say they expected big things.

“I think we’re all disappointed,” nose tackle Barry Cofield said. “I think guys did have some expectations just based on the offseason we had, not really about last year but just the way we prepared. We were able to stay pretty healthy and I think just guys were confident and had worked hard. We’re disappointed. But we feel like we can break out of this funk with a win.”

Wide receiver Pierre Garcon said he’s surprised, but added that unpredictability is the nature of the sport.

“In the NFL, good teams do lose games,” Garcon said. “It happens. It’s about bouncing back. But we never thought we’d be 0-3 coming off the offseason we had and the last year that we had. We thought it would only get better. But we have to deal with it. We have to keep fighting. It’s not over. It’s a long, long season so we’ve definitely got time. I’ve been through it. So I’m looking forward to taking that first win.”

Several Redskins players said they continue to believe that they are a good team simply playing poorly.

“We’ve got a good football team,” Polumbus said. “We’ve got the right guys in the room. We’ve got the right talent. We’ve got the right coaches. We’ve just got to put it all together.”

The Redskins play Sunday at Oakland and have a bye week afterward. Cofield said he believes one victory could make a significant difference and be a springboard to better times.

“It’s hard to be confident when you’re not winning,” Cofield said. “It’s all about wins and losses. So being confident just means winning a game. That feeling of getting that first win, I think, will just take a load off a lot of guys’ shoulders, will get a lot of pressure and a lot of scrutiny off our backs at least temporarily and just allow us to prepare week to week. …I just think it’s a momentum thing. I think that’ll be the biggest thing. When you’re a confident team, I think if the ball doesn’t bounce your way, you’ll find a way to regain that momentum. I don’t feel like we’ve done that so far this year.”

The Redskins continue to remind themselves that they recovered from a 3-6 start last season.

“You just keep playing, keep playing hard, keep practicing hard,” Garcon said. “It’s a game. You’ve got to be able to win. You’ve got be able to lose. You’ve got to be able to come back and bounce back and play as if nothing happened. That’s the most important thing. That’s all you can ask for.”

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesday.

What’s ahead:

● Sunday’s opponent, the Oakland Raiders, plays at 8:40 p.m. tonight in Denver. Here’s a preview of that game.

More on the Redskins and NFL:

Cofield: Defense isn’t playing well enough to win | Forbath hopeful for Oakland

Chester: RGIII good enough to win | Garcon: He’s still not himself

D.C. Sports Bog: Smoot: RGIII a ‘brat,’ Shanahan ‘Red Lobster’ | More Bog

Five observations from Redskins’ loss to the Lions | Snap counts

The Early Lead: Cardinals’ Johnson loses part of finger | More NFL

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The Takeaway: