Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Shanahan stays mum on woeful campaign

Washington coach has support of team

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LANDOVER, Md. -- Mike Shanahan is waiting until the bitter end of his worst season in two decades as an NFL head coach to discuss why things went so wrong for the Washington Redskins.

The Redskins dropped to 3-12 on Sunday with their seventh consecutive loss -- and second in a row by one point -- by blowing a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter and falling 24-23 to the Dallas Cowboys.

It's Washington's longest losing streak since 1998. The team will finish last in the NFC East for the third time in Shanahan's four seasons in charge -- the 5-11 record in 2011 was his previous low mark with the Raiders, Broncos or Redskins -- and the fifth time in the past six years.

So Shanahan was asked whether he could put his finger on what, exactly, were the problems.

"We'll address that at the end of the season. There's always a lot of things that you go back and you take a look at," replied Shanahan, who won two Super Bowls as Denver's coach with John Elway at quarterback. "But collectively, we'll talk more in detail at the end of the season."

Some of his players did offer theories, albeit in vague terms, without naming names, after letting Tony Romo recover from a bad interception to lead Dallas (8-7) to the victory.

Romo capped the comeback by connecting with DeMarco Murray for a go-ahead 10-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 68 seconds left. After that play, dozens of players from both teams scuffled near the end zone.

That closed a nine-play, 87-yard drive that included a 51-yard completion to a wide-open Terrance Williams.

"Coming into the game, you expect everybody to have their assignments down," linebacker Perry Riley said. "That wasn't the case that last drive."

Defensive tackle Barry Cofield considered Sunday's fourth-quarter collapse symbolic of the sort of mistakes Washington has been making week after week.

"That's been the story of the season: We really haven't controlled the momentum of games. A lot of times, negativity has spiralled out of control. We have a tendency to let negative momentum drag us down instead of building on positive momentum and having all three phases play well at the same time," Cofield said. "And that's why we are where we are."

This was the last home game for Redskins captain London Fletcher, who plans to retire after never missing a game in 16 NFL seasons, including 214 consecutive starts, a record for a linebacker.

And he reiterated that he believes Shanahan, who has one season left on a $35-million, five-year contract, should be kept around by owner Dan Snyder.

"They know how I feel about Coach Shanahan. I've been around this game a long time, and probably in D.C. some stability would be great. Coach Shanahan, he's headed in the right direction, as far as the team," Fletcher said.

"Any time you go... 3-12, you know there's going to be change. But the best thing would be to let a little bit of time (pass), get away from the season, decompress, let cooler heads prevail, and then go out and evaluate the situation and say, 'What's the best thing for the Redskins organization?"'

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 23, 2013 C14

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