Redskins say special teams struggles are about 'effort'

Redskins say special teams struggles are about 'effort'
December 8, 2013, 6:30 pm
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(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

The Redskins’ struggling special teams units are typically good for one major breakdown each week. 

In Sunday’s 45-10 loss to the Chiefs, there were two: a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown by Dexter McCluster and a 95-yard kickoff return for a score by Quintin Demps. Both came in a second quarter that ended with the Chiefs leading 38-10 -- and Redskins’ fans booing.

“I’m extremely [peeved] off,” special teams ace Niles Paul said. “What we’re doing on special teams is unacceptable as a unit. Where we stand at in the league, it reflects [on] us as a unit: we’re terrible. It’s embarrassing to be on the field.”

[RELATED: Analysis of Washington's loss to Kansas City on Sunday]

Paul trembled as he spoke because he was so upset.

“It’s almost heartbreaking,” he said. “I’m not a starter on this team. My role is largely on special teams. So I take pride in what I do on special teams. People complain and say it’s a coaching thing. But it’s not a coaching thing, it’s an effort thing. It’s for each player, each individual, 11 people out there to have to want to make a tackle, to have to want to make a play, to have to want to make a block. And that’s not happening right now. And that’s why we are terrible on special teams.”

The Redskins entered the game with the worst punt coverage unit in the league. McCluster had 158 yards on his first four punt returns Sunday.

Although much of the criticism for the Redskins’ consistently poor showings has fallen on first year coordinator Keith Burns, Paul said personnel is the problem.

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More specifically, it’s a small group of players who refuse to embrace the blue collar job.  

“You got to put people who are hungry, who want to make plays, who are in a position like me and like Reed [Doughty] and [Trenton Robinson] and Josh Hull, guys who don’t really have a large role on offense or defense, so … you want to show that hunger on special teams. Because that’s what special teams is: a bunch of guys who want to prove themselves to get on the field on offense or defense. And right now you don’t have that.”

Paul added: “I think we need people to understand their role on this team. I do think there are too many guys who think they are too good for special teams. You can’t have that.”