The Washington Redskins' bye week mailbag, Part 1 at least, leads to questions about leadership, issues between the media and the players -- real or imagined -- Shawn Lauvao's job and whether history can repeat itself. Enjoy.
John Keim: Just a team that is ultra-loose and keeps losing. It’s one thing to be that way when you win; it’s part of your success, no doubt. But when a team is losing you examine all reasons why. It’s not like they have horrible leaders. But they lack a London Fletcher, a guy so respected in the overall defensive meeting room that his voice was listened above all, including coaches. They were more boisterous than necessary after losing to the Seattle Seahawks. It’s not everyone, mind you. But enough guys that it makes you wonder. Last week, they were very loose in the locker room and during practice, with music blaring during individual drills, some players would do a little dancing. Again, it's fine if you win. I also see the defense having young guys in key spots who aren’t ready to lead or older vets in key spots who are wise and lead by example, but who no longer play to a certain level. It adds up.
Keim: Sure. But it’s awfully tough, which is why it was rare when it happened two years ago. But in 2012, the Redskins were playing more consistent than they are now. The defense was forcing more turnovers, the offense wasn’t turning it over so much and they really had just one bad two-game stretch (losing at Pittsburgh and at home against one-win Carolina). But Robert Griffin III was having a terrific season and once the defense started playing better, they took off. I think this time the jump from 3-6 to 10-6 feels a lot greater.
Keim: Goodness, it’s not even remotely that bad. There has been definite tension with some and a couple isolated issues, without a doubt. Some players have a hangover from last season's final month (when most of the negative reports were leaked to national reporters) and avoid talking to the media. It hasn’t been the easiest season in that regard. Part of the tension stemmed from the public relations staff trying to help us out by giving us extra time in the locker room after practice (many players were avoiding the open locker room session, something that is not unusual). That’s the players’ sanctuary, which they’ve made clear, and it has been resolved. What happened a week ago was a direct result of this and players made it known they were upset with PR for these reasons. It’s always a tougher relationship when a team loses -- who wants to answer why your team can’t win? It’s a locker room in need of strong leaders and I’ve felt all year that they’re too loose. But typically when we’re around them it’s cordial with the great majority.
Keim: Well, not every game is the same. Minnesota watched the Dallas game, too, and would be ready. Some of the blitzes were met with max protection, blunting this tactic and providing more time for the quarterback. The Redskins could confuse Dallas in part because of how the Cowboys adjusted their protections. They had it timed perfect. Even when Gregg Williams was the Redskins’ coordinator, there were weeks they blitzed a lot and weeks they just sat back mostly in a cover-2. Few teams can survive blitzing 60 percent of the time and the Redskins are not one of them. At 40 percent, they’re among the top blitzing teams in the NFL. They have young corners who are inconsistent and still learning the game. Applying pressure with four-man fronts and giving the secondary more help is what happens most often, and is what's often the best. Sadly for Washington, that doesn’t happen enough.