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Monday, September 16, 2013
Redskins seek answers after 0-2 start

By John Keim

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Redskins don’t have the answers, just like they didn’t have them a year ago when they tumbled to 3-6. Just like then, they had one approach: Show up for work Wednesday and try again the following week.

That’s about all they can do. There’s no magic formula to digging out of an 0-2 hole. They have to play better. They have to tackle better. They have to do everything better than what they’ve done in the first two weeks, during which they were outscored a combined 50-7 in the first half.

DeAngelo Hall
Veteran CB DeAngelo Hall is urging his Redskins teammates to play harder after their 0-2 start.
“We’re not in the Hollywood movie where you hear a speech and all of a sudden guys will play harder,” Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. “Guys have to want to play hard. They have to want to make plays. They have to be in the film room. They have to see what’s coming. We have to be better.”

Or, as linebacker London Fletcher said, “We have to get better, not try. … We have to get better.”

The Redskins did emerge last season to win seven straight and win the NFC East. During that stretch, the Redskins often talked about keeping their poise and staying confident. They remained resolute in what they were doing. It's what they want and need to do now.

"Our guys are strong mentally," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. "I have confidence they can handle that type of pressure. They understand what kind of team we do have. Even though we started off slow, I have a lot of confidence."

So the players know they can overcome adversity. But at that time their offense was doing well, fueling hope for a turnaround. This time, both sides of the ball have struggled.

“It’s not the end of the world,” Hall said. “It’s a lot of football left to be played. We’ve been in this situation before. We know how to fight back out of it. We know we can. It’s about actually doing it.”

Fletcher’s answer: keep grinding.

“I don’t think you can just throw a little magic dust out there,” he said. “It will take a collective effort by everyone in this locker room. ... We’ve been doing things that have been uncharacteristic of us. Coach Shanahan always talks about penalties and making sure we don’t get penalties and keeping our poise, playing smart, disciplined football. We stress those things. The first couple games we haven’t played to those expectations. The standard has not changed. We have to work to get up to that standard and play beyond it.”

It starts Sunday against 1-1 Detroit, coming off a 25-21 loss at Arizona. The Lions have a potent passing game with receiver Calvin Johnson and quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Redskins have struggled in all areas defensively.

“We haven’t given any offenses reason to be concerned about us,” Fletcher said.

The Redskins understand the history of teams that start 0-2 and don’t make the playoffs; it’s 12 percent. And no team has done so and made the postseason since 2008. But the odds were even worse for teams that were 3-6.

Certainly, if it’s tough at 0-2, it’ll be even tougher to dig out of 0-3.

“Nobody’s made the playoffs after two games, whether you’re 2-0 or 0-2,” Fletcher said. “You definitely don’t want to go 0-3. Is it a must-win situation? I don’t know. But it’s as close to a must-win as possible. We need to get that feeling back, get some confidence. This is a huge game even if it’s only the third game of the season.”