Terrence Austin stood in solitude at his stall inside a quiet Washington Redskins‘ locker room late Sunday afternoon, stewing over his mistakes that contributed to their 19-11 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
There was his illegal crackback block that cost the Redskins‘ offense 15 yards near the end of the third quarter. He also lost a fumble in the fourth.
Coach Mike Shanahan believes young players’ miscues, plenty of which marked this ugly defeat, are the foundation for future success. But that was no consolation for the second-year wide receiver after Washington’s fourth straight loss.
“I think that that’s just a nice way to put it,” Austin said. “Coach believes in us, and he understands that’s going to be tough, but I’ll take it personal. We understand that we’ve got to fill in for the guys that’s been gone because of injury, but it’s part of being professionals. We’ve just got to pay a lot more attention to detail, including me.”
This is what Shanahan’s second season has come to. What began so promisingly with three wins in the first four games has devolved into an evaluative exercise by the halfway point.
The Redskins (3-5) started rookies in place of their injured first-string running back, left guard and No. 1 receiver. They surrounded a starting quarterback who still is searching for his first NFL win.
The final product was about as ugly as it gets. The Redskins did score 11 points, an 11-point improvement over last week, but they turned the ball over three times and gained only 303 yards.
“You could see that inconsistency [Sunday], but these guys are gaining valuable experience,” Shanahan said. “Not only the quarterback, but also the wide receivers, the running backs — eventually it’s going to pay dividends when some of these young guys get some playing time.
“When you have that many new pieces — it does look a little ragtag, and that’s the reason why we were so inconsistent.”
If those words sound to you like a coach acknowledging that his team is not equipped to contend for the postseason, you’re not alone. Not that Shanahan would come out and say that, but the last two losses, if nothing else, were a reality check.
“Everybody looks at the quarterback position saying, ‘That’s the guy.’ You take a look at one of he best pass rushes in the league, best rushing defense, No. 1 in fewest points given up, and it’s not always going to be the quarterback,” Shanahan said.
“I’m not saying that John played the perfect game — I’m not trying to go that way — but as a head coach, you know that you’ve got to have 11 pieces of the puzzle. And if you don’t, everybody looks pretty ordinary.”View Entire Story
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