The damage caused by the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty Joshua Morgan committed at the end of the Washington Redskins’ loss to St. Louis on Sunday can’t be undone, but the gaffe can be used as a learning tool going forward.
That’s coach Mike Shanahan’s plan, at least. During a team meeting on Monday, he reiterated the importance of players maintaining their composure.
When Morgan rose from the turf after being tackled at the St. Louis 29-yard line, a yard short of the first down, Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan shoved him in the face. Morgan retaliated by throwing the ball at Finnegan.
The Redskins were penalized 15 yards and pushed out of field goal range while trailing 31-28 with 1:18 remaining.
“You take a look at the film and see a guy pushing you in the face and all of a sudden a guy loses his composure and the other guy is walking away,” Shanahan said. “When you throw the football at him, he’s laughing. You understand what he’s doing. That’s part of a young guy growing up.”
Morgan was contrite after the game.
“I should have just kept my calm in a critical situation,” he said. He must have repeated a variation of that at least 20 times during the postgame media session.
Shanahan did not individually address Morgan about the penalty, but Morgan was present at Monday’s team meeting.
Asked how he determines whether to discipline a player for such an error, Shanahan gave no indication whether Morgan’s playing time would be affected in Sunday’s home opener against Cincinnati.
“You’re always going to play the best players, the guys that you think give you the best chance to win,” Shanahan said. “What you’re trying to do is make sure that it doesn’t reoccur again for your whole football team.”