- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Dashon Goldson considers himself fortunate in the sense that he has had the opportunity to play for three different teams throughout his nine seasons in the NFL.

In his six seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, he emerged into a leader that helped turn a 6-10 team into one that made it to the NFC Championship and the Super Bowl in consecutive seasons. His two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were much different, and rather difficult, as Goldson struggled to find his identity both on the field and in the locker room.

Though there is a stark contrast between Goldson’s time in San Francisco and Tampa Bay, he joined the Washington Redskins ready to deliver the same message he has always tried to impart on his teammates.

“Simply, man, from the beginning, I told the guys that the difference between a good team and a great team — a good team and an average team — is just the mindset,” Goldson said. “And, like I’ve said, we always, the team had the potential. Just coming in here, they have the athletes to get it done. It was just a mindset based on how we practice and our preparation and going into these games believing we can win.”

Goldson delivered that message the loudest on Saturday night, when he called a players-only meeting before the Redskins’ 20-14 win against the New York Giants. Goldson reminded the team that it has the talent to overcome the inconsistent performances this season. Now that the message has been heard, the challenge is to keep it at the forefront over the final five games now that the Redskins are in the driver’s seat in the NFC East.



Washington’s remaining opponents have a .363 winning percentage — the lowest of any of the other teams in the division — but Goldson said that is not the focus as the Redskins make their playoff push.

“We don’t really focus on teams’ records and what’s going on in the media,” Goldson said. “We let that stuff work itself out. But, what we control is our own destiny and what we can control and that’s our preparation leading into these games.”

The message Goldson delivered to the Redskins sounds simple, but sometimes the obvious gets forgotten in the quest for success. When Goldson was traded to the Redskins, he was reminded of his time in San Francisco. In Goldson’s first four seasons, the 49ers were a sub-.500 team before going 13-3 in 2011.

Goldson said he saw the same potential in the Redskins from the moment he was acquired.

“I tell players, even when we’re in our position meetings, I know a lot of people don’t get the opportunity to go to different teams, so they don’t know what it looks like from the other side of the fence,” Goldson said. “When you’re in different locker rooms, you take a lot from that, and you see a lot of things. When I got here, when I got to learn guys and understand players, and get to know a lot of the guys in the building, it was just like all that was needed was the mindset because we have everything else.”

Line prioritizes keeping Cousins clean

Quarterback Kirk Cousins has been sacked more than once in just three games this season. While the Redskins’ offensive line has struggled at times to open adequate holes for the team’s running backs, Cousins has mostly been able to operate comfortably in the pocket.

The offensive line had its best showing of the season against the Giants. Cousins was not sacked and was rarely hit, as he completed 20 of 29 passes for 302 yards and a touchdown. Often times, Cousins had plenty of time to work through his progressions and find open receivers.

Washington’s run blocking was also sufficient — the Redskins rushed for 105 yards — but the pass protection stood out, especially after Cousins was sacked a total of eight times against the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints. He took one more sack than he had in the previous seven games combined.

“I think we’ve had plenty of games where Kirk didn’t hardly get touched,” left tackle Trent Williams said. “Last few games, we passed the ball I think a lot. Probably in Carolina, one of the best defenses in the league … we were vulnerable in a sense where we had to play catch-up ball. That’s always kind of a hard spot to be in as a far as protection-wise and as far as the quarterback throwing into a defense who knows the pass is coming.

“So, with that being said, we didn’t put ourselves in position to be able to dominate the pass rush like we know we can. The Saints game, we just had a couple of individual efforts and let them break down, but for the most part, I feel like we’ve kept Kirk clean throughout the season.”

Kerrigan honored as Man of the Year

Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan was named the team’s “Walter Payton Man of the Year” for his contributions to the community and volunteer efforts. Kerrigan has focused on supporting childhood cancer awareness, as well as children and families in need. His Blitz for the Better Foundation serves more than 18,000 children annually. Last year, fullback Darrel Young won the award.

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