PHILADELPHIA— The competitive portion of the Washington Redskins’ season appeared to all but end with Sunday’s 24-16 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Redskins’ day began with one of their team buses being egged by fans while en route to the stadium and it ended in similarly inglorious fashion with them being reduced to playing the rest of their season for pride, for their rapidly disintegrating hopes of another turnaround and for next year’s jobs.
“We’re professionals,” tight end Logan Paulsen said. “We have to be professionals. I think in this situation, we have to kind of look at ourselves critically and say, ‘What can we do better moving forward?’ Thank God we’re in an awful division. You never know. So we’ve got to control what we can control and see where it takes us.”
Newspaper columnists, message-board commenters and radio talk-show callers already had been debating whether the team’s owner, Daniel Snyder, should retain Coach Mike Shanahan beyond this season. That debate is likely to intensify now with the Redskins’ record dropping to 3-7 in the fourth year of Shanahan’s five-year contract.
The Redskins won their final seven regular season games last year after a 3-6 start to capture the NFC East title. But otherwise, they have a 17-34 regular season record under Shanahan, a two-time Super Bowl winner with the Denver Broncos.
The conversation about job security extended beyond Shanahan, however, as the Redskins were in the process of falling behind 24-0 on Sunday. Fans took to social media to call for the ouster of Shanahan’s top coaching lieutenants, particularly defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. There was speculation, even on the team’s own radio broadcast, that Shanahan perhaps should change quarterbacks and bench Robert Griffin III, last season’s NFL offensive rookie of the year, in favor of backup Kirk Cousins.
Griffin was kept in the game and threw fourth-quarter touchdown passes of 62 yards to fullback Darrel Young and 41 yards to wide receiver Aldrick Robinson to get the Redskins back in contention. They added a pair of two-point conversions and Griffin had the team on the move toward another touchdown and a possible tying two-point conversion before throwing an interception in the end zone in the final minute.
“It’s the story of our season so far, man, just waiting until the last minute to try to do something,” Young said. “But we put ourselves in that bind. It’s nothing that any [opponent] is really doing. . . . [It’s] just not executing. You see when we started converting on third downs in the fourth quarter, that’s when we started doing things. That’s what we’re capable of doing. But to be honest, I don’t know why we wait so long. I couldn’t tell you.”
It was a chaotic postgame locker room scene for the Redskins, with left tackle Trent Williams accusing an official of yelling a string of expletives at him during the game and with Garcon initially refusing to speak to reporters because he said he was hurt. Garcon walked into the trainer’s room looking for head trainer Larry Hess and called out, “Where’s Larry? Put me on the injury report. Ankle.”
Garcon did speak later to media members outside the locker room for a little more than a minute, saying: “We learn from losses. But it [stinks] to lose.”
Garcon said the team would not “break up” despite its current dire circumstances, adding: “That’s not us.”
All week, the Redskins could point to last season and express confidence that they still could salvage their season after a 3-6 beginning. They’d just done it a year ago, after all. But now their downward spiral has continued, and they’ve fallen 21 / 2 games out of first place even in the sport’s most forgiving division. They still have the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs, two of the league’s better teams, on their schedule.
“I’ve got a lot of belief in our football team,” Shanahan said. “Our guys fought extremely hard when they were down. A lot of people don’t fight that hard. But we made too many mistakes to win. Credit to them. They got the job done and we didn’t.”
But asked a question about Griffin’s performance, Shanahan was more succinct.
“We’re all judged by winning and losing,” he said. “So it’s always disappointing. Any time you don’t win, you’re always tough on yourself.”
Said Young: “It’s a loss. It’s always gonna be tough. But we show fight, man. We’ve got some guys in here. What 3-6 team is gonna fight like that? I just think we’ve got something special. It’s unfortunate that we’re 3-7 now. But there’s something going on in this locker room, something good. We’ve got fight. We just can’t wait. We’ve just been waiting until the end [of games]. You can’t do that in the NFL.”