- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 7, 2001

Marty Schottenheimer questioned whether confidence or success comes first when he was hired as the Washington Redskins' coach in January. Ten months later, an 0-3 start has provided the answer.
"The only way you get confident is through success," Schottenheimer said. "Right now, we have to find some means to find success. That's really the thing necessary to be the catalyst to get jump-started. We're still trying to find way to break through."
The Redskins are 14-point underdogs to the New York Giants (2-1) today at Giants Stadium. The offense is ranked last. So is the defense. Punt returns haven't gained one net yard.
Players are mad at themselves. They're even madder at coaches for being regularly told to buy into a system that hasn't paid off yet. A four-hour group therapy session on Monday ended with Schottenheimer making the grand concession of letting 20 older veterans lift weights in the afternoon instead of morning.
Schottenheimer conceded communication problems with players, saying he didn't fully explain why some of his restrictive rules were imposed. However, Schottenheimer also said little change will come from the meeting. Schottenheimer believes his system of 15 years will work.
"I'm not going to come unglued because of the start," he said. "There's nothing that said it had to happen in the first three weeks, first six weeks or first eight weeks. We're setting out with a plan that involves a very wide scope of things. I have no question we'll get it done."
The team gave lip service to starting anew. Still, frustrations have leaked out.
"It's very frustrating. We've had a lot of turmoil around here, but guys put that behind them. Just go out there and perform," running back Stephen Davis said. "Everybody talks about buying into the system. The system we need to buy into is winning games. The best way is to put points on the board."
Said defensive tackle Kenard Lang: "This is the time where it tests your character. Just because you're 0-3 doesn't mean it's the end of the world. We go 13-3 and everybody will love us. We can pull the run off now."
Quarterback Tony Banks scoffs at the idea of Schottenheimer being too tough. He played for Kansas City coach Dick Vermeil when both were in St. Louis. Mutiny was in the wind, and Vermeil was nearly fired before easing up on players.
"Guys getting down after three games need to check into another profession," he said.
Unfortunately, the Redskins meet a team also fueled by anger. The Giants watched the World Trade Center terrorist attack Sept. 11 from their practice facility. The 2000 NFC champions have spent countless hours visiting survivors and rescue workers. It has turned the locker room into a home.
"We draw on anger," cornerback Jason Sehorn said. "We had some crisis management people come visit us to make sure everybody was OK. They asked if anyone was angry. He said learn how to channel that. When you step on that field there's a lot of pent-up frustration because that's our only battle we have to fight."
Many Giants say they've met supporters whose late family members were fans. The players believe winning is their small part of healing the community.
"The New York area respects toughness, commitment, loyalty, patriotism. That's something I've always talked to this team about," coach Jim Fassel said. "This area expects a lot. People expect you to win."
Washington ended its 0-7 start in 1998 by beating New York 21-14. New York's worst-ever loss at Giants Stadium 50-21 to the Redskins in 1999 is motivation, too.
"The last thing you want to do is underestimate them and have them wake up on you," Sehorn said.
The Redskins must run effectively and often and stop the Giants' running game for any chance of an upset. Davis hasn't carried more than 14 times in one game this season despite a solid 4.5-yard average. Trailing by double digits in the first half of every game has forced the Redskins to pass often.
Fassel has said that quarterbacks' biggest improvement often comes in their second starts. Banks' debut was respectable in the 45-13 loss to Kansas City on Sept. 30 as he completed 11 of 27 passes with the season's first touchdown. Receivers dropped several passes, and two receptions were inches out of the end zone. Still, it was the awakening of the modified West Coast offense that distributes the ball widely.
"You couldn't tell by [the last game], but it's getting better," Banks said. "I could have thrown better balls. They could have caught some more balls, but that happens."
Giants running back Tiki Barber (hamstring) is doubtful, but Ron Dayne has 187 yards on 41 carries. His straight-ahead style is perfect against the Redskins worst-ranked "Red Sea Defense" that has been parted up the middle by three straight 100-yard runners.
"We're ready for the sea to close, and everything's going to stop," Lang said. "That's going to start this week."
But Fassel won't abandon his offensive strength just because the Redskins are readying for it.
"We're not a juggernaut, go out and throw the ball a lot," he said. "I don't need to get cute or fancy and look like a genius tricking the other team."

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