Stress can drive Washington Redskins again

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins returned to a position they conquered last season. That doesn’t mean it’s one they wanted to repeat.

Yes, the odds are stacked high against them making the playoffs after an 0-3 start. They also were rather high against them doing it at 3-6. Five teams in history have made the playoffs after starting 0-3. Then again, no team had reached the postseason after a 3-6 record since 1997 when the Redskins did it last season.

But it wasn’t easy. Knowing each game becomes a must win results, perhaps, in sharper focus. It also can be draining.

“It was a fun ride, but it was stressful,” Redskins fullback Darrel Young said. “You don’t want to be like that every week. You stress yourself out and you’re exhausted for the next week.”

It was the scoreboard watching and needing others to win. It was knowing they couldn’t afford any mis-step if they wanted to reach the playoffs.

“We didn’t control our own destiny,” Young said. “It was stressful because you root for other teams and then you have to play them. It sucks. It’s stressful from a mental standpoint like, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Veteran nose tackle Barry Cofield agrees. But he says that stress can be good -- and was.

“When you feel like every game is a must win it’s stressful,” he said. “It definitely is. It’s almost like if you have that attitude all year I think you’re better off. … We’re young enough to handle that stress. We have to approach every game here on out like we need to win. We can’t look at the standings and count on other teams to do our job. We put that stress on ourselves each week and I think we’ll be better off.”

They also played with a confidence that enabled them to overcome an eight-point deficit and then the loss of their starting quarterback against Baltimore. And then to win the next week without Robert Griffin III. And then to win the next two weeks when he was hobbled.

At 0-3, the Redskins obviously are more than one loss away from being eliminated. But they also know if they don’t start winning this will go down as one of the more disappointing chapters in franchise history.

What they don’t want to do, and say they aren’t doing, is relying on the fact that because they did it a year ago it automatically will happen again.

“You can’t live off the past,” Redskins receiver Santana Moss said. “That’s when you get yourself bit.”

But they can apply lessons learned.

“The only way to get out of this thing is by staying to our guns and believing in ourselves,” Moss said. “Everybody will be down on the fact of where we’re at. We know that. But who cares about everyone else? All we have are the guys in this locker room.”

That’s a sentiment shared by teammates.

“Everyone will have their opinion,” Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo said. “The defense sucks. The offense sucks. Everybody sucks. That’s what happens when you’re 0-and-3. But we’re very confident. We’re not having our heads down. We’re going about our day and handling our business. Eventually it will turn around for us. All it takes is one win to get that thing rolling like last year. We’re not counting on last year. We have to make sure that we understand what’s ahead.”