At 0-3, baffled Redskins search for answers
ASHBURN, Va. -- Coming off their first NFC East title in 13 years and a seven-game winning streak that ended 2012, the Washington Redskins never expected to be 0-3 heading to Oakland on Sunday, especially since two of their first three games were at home against Philadelphia and Detroit, each only 4-12 last season.
"I am surprised," said center Will Montgomery, who's in his fifth season in Washington. "We do know we're still a good team. If we clean up a few things, we can still do what we want this year."
Considering that only three teams -- none since 1998 -- have come back from 0-3 starts to make the playoffs going back to 1990 -- that seems far-fetched, but the mood at Redskins Park on Wednesday was far from bleak ahead of Sunday's game at Oakland.
"The locker room's still the same," said receiver Santana Moss, the only Redskin whose tenure dates back to 2005. "When you guys leave, we're back to playing our music and having fun and knowing we have a job at hand. We don't really sit here and dwell on the stuff that's going on because that's not the way you're gonna get over it.
"Our focus is going out here and putting some work on the field today. Once Sunday was over, it was over. It hurts for a day and you think about what you could have did better, but once you look at it on film and you correct those mistakes, you move on to the next week."
Defensive end Kedric Golston, a seventh-year Redskin, agreed even though his unit set a Super Bowl-era record by allowing 1,464 yards during the first three games.
"We understand we're 0-3 and we need to get a victory, but however you were feeling, that's over and done with," Golston said. "It's a new week. You can't carry that stuff from week to week, good or bad. What can a feeling do about it now? Feelings won't change the reality of the situation. I feel like going and beating the Raiders.
"This is the worst record I've ever had in September, but the plan hasn't changed, the mindset hasn't changed. I don't think the sky's falling down. We still have one message: go get better every day.
"Everyone's feeling the pressure of being 0-3, but by the same token, you have your core beliefs that you gotta stay with. It's not that it's not working. Everybody needs to do a better job of executing. No matter what defense is called, it comes down to people making plays."
Make that, making tackles.
"I think tackling is more or less a mindset," Golston said. "You don't have to take people to the ground (in practice) to be a good tackler. You can say that in the NFL today, (offenses) create space. As a defense, we never want to put people in situations where they have to make a one-on-one tackle because we understand the skill level in this league is tremendous."
The Redskins aren't making many plays on offense before halftime either, having been outscored during the first 30 minutes of games by cornerback DeAngelo Hall, two touchdowns to one.
"It definitely helps to score early," Montgomery said. "You don't want to get down early because it turns into a passing game. All last year, we were able to run our base offense and do whatever we wanted to. But when you get down a few scores, you start playing catch-up which is not a fun way to play."
But after being no further behind than a touchdown for only 2:16 against the Lions after trailing big most the way against the Eagles and Packers, the Redskins believe they're starting to turn it around.
"It's hard to have that swagger sitting at 0-3, but I don't think the team has lost that sense of confidence," said quarterback Robert Griffin III, who's throwing 46.3 passes per game, which puts him on pace to break the record of 45.4 set by Detroit's Matthew Stafford in 2012.
"We know how close we are. We know we can turn it around. You don't look at it as, 'We did this last year (turning a 3-6 start into a 10-6 finish). We can get out of this hole. You look to that as a sense of confidence like we know what this team's made of, we know what we can do. I have a lot of faith in this football team, a lot of faith in my teammates, coaches."
Linebacker London Fletcher managed to find a silver lining, of sorts.
"0-3 is not where I wanted us to be," he said. "The good thing about it with our division is that we're (only) two games out (with five NFC East games remaining). In most situations, you'd probably have somebody 3-0 in your division and another team 2-1."