Redskins players come to coach Shanahan's defense

By DAVID ELFIN, AP
Tue Nov 6, 8:08 PM UTC

Mike Shanahan's players are supporting their coach after he seemingly wrote off the Washington Redskins' season and then said his comments had been misinterpreted.

``I thought he clarified exactly what he meant, how it wasn't portrayed the way it needed to be,'' said co-captain London Fletcher, a 15-year veteran. ``He let us know exactly how he feels about this season, how he feels about the guys in this locker room. Coach Shanahan's a proven winner, a two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach. He's not a person who gives up on a season.''

Fletcher doesn't agree with criticism of Shanahan for his comments.

``To portray him in that light is not fair to him, not fair to this football team. You get a couple of games to go your way, especially in November, you're right in the thick of things.''

But no matter what the coach said or meant, Washington faces an uphill challenge to salvage its season. After three straight defeats, the Redskins are 3-6 and back in last place in the NFC East for a fifth straight season heading into a five-day break during their bye week.

``We're frustrated to lose football games, but no one in this locker room would ever quit and there's no coach that would never give up,'' said ninth-year Redskins tight end Chris Cooley, who was re-signed on Oct. 22 after being out of the league for the first seven weeks. ``It will be good (for) our young players, our young quarterback (Robert Griffin III) to have a little bit of time to relax and get away from it and come back and really try to make a run. Hopefully we have a chance to make games important in November and December.''

Cooley starred for Washington teams that rallied from records of 5-6 in December 2005 and 5-7 in December 2007 to make the playoffs.

``It's easy to play when you're winning and everything's good,'' said defensive end Kedric Golston, who also played on the 2007 team. ``You find out the true character of a man when things are down. He probably could have said it a lot better, (but) it's not what Coach Shanahan said. It's about how we respond coming out of this bye week. It's going to be hard to come to work now. Do we have the right guys? I think we do, but until we go out and prove it, who knows?''

Defensive end Chris Baker, who rose from the practice squad in 2011 to being in the rotation this year, said Shanahan's comments about evaluating personnel rang true.

``It's an evaluation period all year,'' Baker said. ``That's exactly how it is week to week. If you're not good enough, they're going to find someone to replace you.''

The Redskins, who have lost seven starters for a total of 49 games and will be without four of those players the rest of the way, are sixth in yards and seventh in points, but only three teams have allowed more yards and only four have allowed more points. No team has committed more penalties for more yards.

``The coaches put us in the right plays and put us in the right places,'' said left tackle Trent Williams, another co-captain. ``We're just not taking advantage of them.''

Fletcher, who has started two Super Bowls and played for three Redskins coaches, maintained that Shanahan's direction is still the correct one despite a 14-27 record over two and a half seasons.

``Regardless of what his record is, we know he's creating a Super Bowl-winning environment,'' Fletcher said. ``The foundation is here. We're a lot more talented football team (than when Shanahan took command in January 2010). We have a great young quarterback. We've added some great youth to our team, more depth. ``

Notes: Long snapper Nick Sundberg, who broke his left arm in Week 1, was activated Tuesday from in-season injured reserve next week. ... Cornerback Domonique ``D.J.'' Johnson was signed to the active roster from the practice squad. ... Long snapper Justin Snow and cornerback David Jones were waived. . Right tackle Jammal Brown, on the physically unable to perform list since the eve of training camp, hopes to return to practice next week. . Strong safety Brandon Meriweather, who has injured his left knee three times since Week 2 of preseason, is expected to make his Redskins debut on Nov. 18 against Philadelphia. . Receiver Pierre Garcon said his long-ailing right foot is better but there's no timetable for his return.