The Washington Redskins’ woes have increased to the point that they now freely acknowledge jobs are at stake in what remains of their rapidly disintegrating season.
“I think the players are smart enough to understand that if you are 3-8 that everybody is playing for their jobs,” Coach Mike Shanahan said Tuesday at Redskins Park. “That’s the nature of our business. I don’t care if it’s players, coaches, support staff. The nature of this game is to find a way to win. And if you don’t win, everybody is accountable.”
Shanahan’s comments came a day after a 27-6 defeat to the San Francisco 49ers extended the Redskins’ losing streak to three games and dropped their record to 3-8. The coach’s remarks echoed the sentiments expressed by wide receiver Pierre Garcon in the locker room at FedEx Field following the game.
“Everybody’s job’s on the line when you’re losing,” Garcon said. “So, you know, you’ve always got to think about it. Any day, you can get cut or you can get released or fired.”
Shanahan is in his fourth season with the Redskins and has a record of 24-35. The struggles have led to growing speculation that he won’t be retained by owner Daniel Snyder after the season. Shanahan continued Tuesday to defend the team’s overall direction during his tenure. He also said he’s still confident that his message is getting through to his players.
“You can see when they’re not playing hard,” Shanahan said. “I’ve been in situations before as an assistant or as a head coach where players just don’t play hard. You get the feel. . . . I haven’t seen any of that. And I don’t expect to see it with the type of players we have on our football team.”
But whenever seasons unravel, issues tend to pop up in all corners of the locker room. Tailback Alfred Morris said after Monday night’s loss that the Redskins didn’t have “the greatest of weeks” of practices leading up to the game. Morris stopped short of blaming the defeat to the 49ers on that, however. He also did not attribute the practice-field issues to the controversies that swirled around the team seemingly nonstop last week.
“It wasn’t the greatest of weeks,” Morris said. “But you’re gonna have that sometimes. Just because you had a bad week, not that we had a bad week, but sometimes if you have a few bad practices or a few bad [practice] periods doesn’t mean you’re gonna have a bad game. But like I said, today we just didn’t show up for whatever reason. I don’t know what it was.”
The Redskins continued Tuesday to deal with the attention being given to the father of quarterback Robert Griffin III visiting Griffin in the postgame locker room Monday. Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie said, “Robert’s father was checking on him after the game because he thought he was injured.”
Shanahan preached patience with Griffin’s development as a pocket passer. Shanahan said he won’t consider a late-season quarterback switch to second-year backup Kirk Cousins as long as Griffin is healthy, in part because Griffin needs as much game experience as possible to aid his growth as a drop-back passer. Griffin threw for only 127 yards Monday night.
“It doesn’t happen overnight,” Shanahan said. “It’s a growing period. And if you take a look at so many of these quarterbacks — you go back, thinking of all the Hall of Fame quarterbacks — they’ve had much tougher years than what we’ve gone through so far. . . . He’s got all the ability in the world to make that big jump. And you just have to be patient.”
Linebacker London Fletcher acknowledged Monday night that he’s disappointed about how things have come undone for the Redskins after he expected big things when he decided to return for his 16th NFL season.
“It’s disappointing for me,” Fletcher said. “It’s disappointing for everybody as a team. I don’t put myself above anybody. We’re all disappointed, the way the season has gone. Whether you’re a first-year, second-year, third-year guy [or] you’re a 16-year vet, nobody is happy with the way things have turned out.”
Fletcher said he remains in Shanahan’s corner.
“He’s a great leader. . . . Effort [by players] has never been an issue for us,” Fletcher said. “Preparation has never been an issue for us. We won’t let anybody give up on the season. And we don’t have those type of guys. That’s just not the character of our guys on this team.”
Garcon was not as definitive. When he was asked whether the team remains headed in the proper direction, he said: “You tell me.”
He also declined to say whether he remains satisfied with the effort level being displayed by the team’s players.
“That’s a personal decision that you’ve got to tell us,” Garcon said to a small group of reporters surrounding his locker Monday night. “If you see a guy slacking, I’m sure you’re gonna write about it. So that’s up to you. It’s not up to me.”
But he also said of the team’s cohesion: “Everyone is on the same page 100 percent.”