Mike Shanahan defends franchise direction

ASHBURN, Va. -- The record suggests one thing; Mike Shanahan sees another. A day after the Washington Redskins stumbled to 3-7, Shanahan defended his program -- and said he remains encouraged by the direction of the franchise.

The Redskins are 24-33 under Shanahan, but won the NFC East last season. They're now last in the NFC East, even trailing the resurgent New York Giants, winners of four straight to get to 4-6. Shanahan said the foundation remains strong, particularly on offense.

“You have to take a look at a number of things,” Shanahan said. “Take a look at the direction of a team. Take a look at the offensive numbers [in 2012 and ‘13]. That just doesn’t happen naturally with a lot of new players. The numbers we’re putting up are pretty impressive, especially with losing the $36-million salary cap over those two years. You don’t have the type of depth, but you’re able to put a solid team together. In the future it will get better. We have the ability to get more depth. We’ll get the ability to add some players on both sides of the ball. That gives you a chance to get better.”

The Redskins, of course, lost that salary-cap space because of an NFL-imposed penalty for how they handled the 2010 uncapped year. It hurt their ability to add players, though free agency does not always guarantee a quality starter in return. The Redskins have signed receiver Pierre Garcon, nose tackle Barry Cofield and end Stephen Bowen in free agency. They also signed safety O.J. Atogwe and receiver Josh Morgan.

The Redskins also point to the lost offseason by quarterback Robert Griffin III due to rehabilitating his knee.

The big question will be whether or not Shanahan receives a contract extension, or if he’ll finish the fifth and final year of his original deal. He would not say whether or not owner Dan Snyder has given him assurances of a fifth season.

“I don’t talk about those things during the season for obvious reasons,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan said he’s disappointed about not being able to finish the past two games better, driving downfield but failing to score potential game-tying touchdowns in the final minute.

“We’re playing good teams, we’re not finishing games,” Shanahan said. “When you’re no. 1 in rushing, that means you’re doing some things good. How you win games is not turning the ball over, which we didn’t do last year, which we’ve done this year. That doesn’t help you win games. There are a couple areas we have to get better, but when you can lead the league in rushing, usually you’ve got a chance to have success.”