Unfamiliar spot for Shanahan

Unfamiliar spot for Shanahan
December 13, 2010, 10:49 pm
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Monday, December 13, 2010, 5:48 p.m.

By Ryan OHalloran
Staff writer
CSNwashington.com

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As the Redskins lost their third straight game to officially extinguish any playoff hopes, coach Mike Shanahan continued to operate in an unfamiliar spot: Playing out the string.

The Redskins 5-8 record is Shanahans second-worst mark through 13 games and only the fourth time in 16 full years hes had a losing record entering the final three weeks.

Youre not used to it, he said Monday at Redskin Park. You always want to win, especially those close games. You want to find a way to win and its always disappointing when you dont win. With all the time you put in and all the effort in the off-season, its really hard to lose.

The Redskins are one game ahead of Dallas in the NFC East and a win Sunday would help them avoid a third straight finish in the division cellar.

Shanahan was asked if he thinks the reclamation project is a taller challenge than he first expected.

I cant say its going to take more work because going from four wins to a chance to win the Super Bowl takes some time, he said. It doesnt happen over night.

The Super Bowl surely wasnt an expectation because of the roster turnover and new offensive and defensive schemes. But finding ways to win close games something the Redskins couldnt do last year was supposed to improve. It hasnt.

The 17-16 loss to Tampa Bay was the third this year of four or fewer points.

Translation: The Redskins do a lot of good things but are lacking the wherewithal to deliver a final haymaker.

We have the guys, we have the plays, we have the coaches, receiver Santana Moss said. We just have to grasp what we have and do something with it.

Moss was particularly upset about the result in the post-game locker room. Having been with the Redskins since 2005, hes seen just about it all, including three head coaches, two playoff appearances and, unofficially, at least five play-callers.

Year in and year out, you see people come and go so when you keep getting opportunities and say, Wow, were blessed, Moss said. Whats the opportunity when you cant come through?

A failure to come through in games like Houston (bad fourth quarter), St. Louis and the second Philadelphia game (bad first quarters) and Tampa Bay (non-existent third quarter) have the Redskins out of the playoffs for the 15th time in 18 years, triggering a new buzzword for Shanahan.

Evaluation.

Well get a good feel of who will be with us after taking a look at the next three games and how our players play, he said. Next year there should be a normal free agency, normal draft so well get a chance to evaluate our players from this season and hopefully head in the right direction.

Shanahan added his expectations remain very high, but realistic.

The Redskins goal for the final three games is put a dent in the chances of Jacksonville and the Giants. And obviously complete the season sweep of Dallas.

You play for pride but from an individual basis, youre playing because you have a love for the game, linebackerdefensive end Andre Carter said. The last thing you want to do is lollygag and embarrass yourself.

Contact Ryan at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com