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Sunday, December 29, 2013
Lichtensteiger: The vibe isn't good

By John Keim

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The players said the right things, as they have from the beginning. They professed their love for a coaching staff that soon could be out of work. They said if it was up to them, the staff would return.

It’s customary to say such things right before the end of a coaching regime. That hasn’t always been the case in Washington, when some were ready for changes, whether it was Jim Zorn or Steve Spurrier. Now it’s Mike Shanahan’s turn.

“We’re all prepared for what’s going to take place,” Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo said. “We’re all ready for it.”

“Unfortunately the vibes aren’t good right now,” Redskins left guard Kory Lichtensteiger said. “We don’t know, but everyone is saying [to Shanahan], ‘It’s been an honor; it’s been a pleasure,” just in case. You don’t want to be caught not having said anything. So it’s just in case whatever happens. It has been a pleasure. I love this coaching staff. It’s a damn shame whenever something does change.”

But when you go 3-13 -- and, more importantly, 24-40 over four years -- change is inevitable. The players know it and the coaches know it, too. It’s not personal, just life in the NFL.

“When you don’t win, that’s what happens,” Doughty said. “I don’t make those decisions. I have no control over that. But I do know from a players’ perspective, what he asked of us, the way he ran things ... he’s a class act and I like playing for him.”

Players don’t want to make negative comments publicly about a coach in Shanahan’s situation. It’s a bad look and a new coach could look at those quotes and decide that’s not the sort of player they want to keep around. Other players know they might want to play for Shanahan again, if he continues to coach.

“I think he deserves to be back,” Redskins left tackle Trent Williams said. “I think 99.9 percent of the team shares that opinion. ... We took a step back, but it has nothing to do with him. He’ll take the blame. He’ll say it’s his fault. That’s the type of man he is, but as a team we didn’t do what it took to get the job done.”

No, they did not. Too many turnovers. Too many missed chances in the red zone. Too many points allowed by the defense. Too few scored by the offense. When you’re 3-13, the list of woes is long. They opened the season hoping for a Super Bowl run and they ended it with an eight-game losing streak.

“It’s been a tough season in many ways,” Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. “At the beginning of the year it was all the name change stuff and now all this stuff going on, with everyone talking about who will be here and what not. It’s been a weird season.”

Weird is one word. Horrible is another. Bounces that went their way in 2012 went against them in 2013. But that barely begins to explain the turnaround from 10-6 to 3-13.

“Once you catch that wave it’s hard to get off that,” Redskins receiver Santana Moss said. “That’s what we did. We caught a wave we couldn’t get off and the wave just drowned us.”

And now, as cornerback DeAngelo Hall said, “Nobody knows what’s going to happen. I’ll be watching just like everyone else.”

So they’ll wait to hear. Shanahan is scheduled to meet with owner Dan Snyder at 9 a.m. ET.

“All you can do is prepare yourself to be back,” Moss said, “and be prepared for whatever change is coming.”