- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 21, 2003

The Washington Redskins returned to work yesterday, and while players acknowledged their mistakes in Sunday’s 24-7 loss at Buffalo, they continued to dispute coach Steve Spurrier’s postgame claim that they lacked effort.

“I took a look at the film, and I asked myself if I could have played any harder. And the answer is I’m playing as hard as I can,” tackle Jon Jansen said, echoing the sentiments of his teammates. “I’m not going to go out and change anything I do. Do I make mistakes? Yeah, everybody makes mistakes. I haven’t played a perfect game yet.”

The perspective from the defensive side of the ball was no different.

“I looked at film. Guys were hustling,” linebacker Jessie Armstead said. “To me, guys were hustling trying to make plays. Were there a lot of missed tackles? Yes, but those are things that can be corrected.”

Spurrier backed off his original criticisms the last two days, saying he got caught up in the heat of the moment. But he still isn’t completely absolving his players of blame from the embarrassing loss, Washington’s third straight and fourth in five games.

“Anybody who watched the game could tell that Buffalo played with a very high energy level and we didn’t,” Spurrier said. “If we’re going to compete with the teams we play, we’ve got to get it up. We’ve got to play our assignments, and we’ve got to play a lot faster, not miss tackles. Offensively, we’ve got to block people and run and throw and catch. We’ve got to do it all a lot better.”

On their first day of practice since Sunday’s loss, Redskins players seemed committed to putting their differences with the coaching staff behind them and moving forward. Several players still privately expressed concerns with some practices and actions of some coaches, but they insist they remain confident in the staff and in their teammates.

“We’re all that we have,” tackle Chris Samuels said. “As soon as we start turning on each other, that’s it. Everything’s down the drain. We have to stick together. And I think everybody’s still on the same page.”

Washington’s players insist they have no intention of giving up on this season. Even the handful of veterans who have been around through four straight years of disappointment say they’re not ready to admit, “Here we go again.”

“You’ve got to save that feeling for when we’re out of it,” Jansen said. “We’re not out of it by any means. We’re 3-4. Obviously we’d rather be 7-0. But we’ve still got a lot of season left.”

Players also realize they can’t surrender to their current dilemma, because having gone through season after season of change, they can’t bear the prospect of starting all over yet again.

Given that, the Redskins find themselves in something of a desperate situation. As they try to hold their suddenly fragile season together, they realize there is no margin for error.

“You can call it what you want, but we know we need to win our next game,” cornerback Champ Bailey said. “We need to win the game after that, and the game after that.”

Much as they would like to get back on the field and put their losing streak behind them, fate of scheduling has the Redskins in the middle of their bye week. Preparations for their next game, Nov.2 at first-place Dallas, won’t begin in earnest until early next week.

Then again, given all the issues that need to be sorted out, a week off might not be such a bad thing.

“This,” guard Randy Thomas said, “is the reason you have a bye week.”

Notes — The Redskins followed through and made roster changes following Sunday’s loss, though yesterday’s pair of moves were considered minor. Washington signed defensive end Ron Warner, who played sparingly for Tampa Bay last year and spent part of the 1999 season on the Redskins’ practice squad, and offensive lineman Mitch White, who has practice squad experience with several teams. To make room for the additions, Washington released defensive lineman Ladairis Jackson and offensive lineman Brad Bedell. … Wide receiver Laveranues Coles sat out practice yesterday with turf toe. The injury, which required the team’s leading receiver to walk around in a protective boot yesterday, is not considered serious, and Coles is expected to be ready to play next week.

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