Redskins players come to coach Shanahan's defense


Redskins players come to coach Shanahan's defense

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Mike Shanahan's players are supporting their coach after he seemingly wrote off the Washington Redskins' season and then said his comments had been misinterpreted.

``I thought he clarified exactly what he meant, how it wasn't portrayed the way it needed to be,'' said co-captain London Fletcher, a 15-year veteran. ``He let us know exactly how he feels about this season, how he feels about the guys in this locker room. Coach Shanahan's a proven winner, a two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach. He's not a person who gives up on a season.''

Fletcher doesn't agree with criticism of Shanahan for his comments.

``To portray him in that light is not fair to him, not fair to this football team. You get a couple of games to go your way, especially in November, you're right in the thick of things.''

But no matter what the coach said or meant, Washington faces an uphill challenge to salvage its season. After three straight defeats, the Redskins are 3-6 and back in last place in the NFC East for a fifth straight season heading into a five-day break during their bye week.

``We're frustrated to lose football games, but no one in this locker room would ever quit and there's no coach that would never give up,'' said ninth-year Redskins tight end Chris Cooley, who was re-signed on Oct. 22 after being out of the league for the first seven weeks. ``It will be good (for) our young players, our young quarterback (Robert Griffin III) to have a little bit of time to relax and get away from it and come back and really try to make a run. Hopefully we have a chance to make games important in November and December.''

Cooley starred for Washington teams that rallied from records of 5-6 in December 2005 and 5-7 in December 2007 to make the playoffs.

``It's easy to play when you're winning and everything's good,'' said defensive end Kedric Golston, who also played on the 2007 team. ``You find out the true character of a man when things are down. He probably could have said it a lot better, (but) it's not what Coach Shanahan said. It's about how we respond coming out of this bye week. It's going to be hard to come to work now. Do we have the right guys? I think we do, but until we go out and prove it, who knows?''

Defensive end Chris Baker, who rose from the practice squad in 2011 to being in the rotation this year, said Shanahan's comments about evaluating personnel rang true.

``It's an evaluation period all year,'' Baker said. ``That's exactly how it is week to week. If you're not good enough, they're going to find someone to replace you.''

The Redskins, who have lost seven starters for a total of 49 games and will be without four of those players the rest of the way, are sixth in yards and seventh in points, but only three teams have allowed more yards and only four have allowed more points. No team has committed more penalties for more yards.

``The coaches put us in the right plays and put us in the right places,'' said left tackle Trent Williams, another co-captain. ``We're just not taking advantage of them.''

Fletcher, who has started two Super Bowls and played for three Redskins coaches, maintained that Shanahan's direction is still the correct one despite a 14-27 record over two and a half seasons.

``Regardless of what his record is, we know he's creating a Super Bowl-winning environment,'' Fletcher said. ``The foundation is here. We're a lot more talented football team (than when Shanahan took command in January 2010). We have a great young quarterback. We've added some great youth to our team, more depth. ``

Notes: Long snapper Nick Sundberg, who broke his left arm in Week 1, was activated Tuesday from in-season injured reserve next week. ... Cornerback Domonique ``D.J.'' Johnson was signed to the active roster from the practice squad. ... Long snapper Justin Snow and cornerback David Jones were waived. . Right tackle Jammal Brown, on the physically unable to perform list since the eve of training camp, hopes to return to practice next week. . Strong safety Brandon Meriweather, who has injured his left knee three times since Week 2 of preseason, is expected to make his Redskins debut on Nov. 18 against Philadelphia. . Receiver Pierre Garcon said his long-ailing right foot is better but there's no timetable for his return.

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10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

USA Today Sports

10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.

10) Will the Redskins develop depth on the D-line?

9) Can the Redskins count on Montae Nicholson?

8) Want better offense? Get more out of the tight ends 

7) Will Jimmy Moreland actually win the slot CB job from Fabian Moreau?

6) After losing Reuben Foster, how's the Redskins LB situation?

5) Will potential match production for Redskins WRs?

When a team picks in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft, folks around the NFL expect that player to become a Pro Bowler. For Washington, that exact scenario unfolded with right guard Brandon Scherff. 


Selected fifth overall in 2015, the Redskins took Scherff to play right tackle and anchor the offensive line opposite Trent Williams. That idea quickly faded, helped by the emergence of Morgan Moses, and Scherff moved inside to play guard. For four years, it's worked out great, with Pro Bowl selections in 2016 and 2017. 

Scherff is a mauler in the best sense of the word. He has great footwork and Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has called the former Iowa Hawkeye the best pulling guard in the NFL. Scherff is strong and nasty, words that won't win beauty pageants but absolutely win in the trenches of the NFL. 

Considering all of that, a contract extension for Scherff should be easy. Right?


Currently in the final year of his rookie deal, multiple reports stretching over the last six weeks indicate that the organization is way off in their extension offers to Scherff. He might not command the biggest contract in the league, but he will get paid like a top three guard. In 2019, that means a lot of money.

Cowboys guard Zach Martin makes $14 million a year. Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell makes $13.3 million a year. Scherff might not get to Martin's salary, but he will probably get to Norwell, whether Washington pays it or not.

That means the Redskins need to pony up the cash now because as each day passes, the team is approaching an ugly set of options. Scherff and his representatives might continue to negotiate during the season, but it doesn't make a lot of sense. Once free agency becomes in view, players tend to wait for it. Just ask Kirk Cousins. 

In fact, the situation between Scherff and the Redskins has some resemblance to the Cousins saga from a few years ago. 

In that case, Washington low-balled their homegrown quarterback in their first set of negotiations. From there, things went sideways, and the team used consecutive franchise tags on Cousins before he finally left via free agency. 

If the Redskins can't get a deal done with Scherff, the team could use a franchise tag in 2020. But that's a dangerous game of roulette. 

The time to get a deal done with Scherff is now, if not last month. Redskins team president has said in the past that deadlines drive deals, but with Scherff, there is no exact deadline. He can decide to stop working on a contract extension at any moment, particularly once the pads come on at training camp. 

The Trent Williams holdout might be complicating things a bit, if Williams only wants more cash and the issue isn't about much more than that. The truth is a Scherff extension would actually free up cap space in the short term, as his signing bonus would be spread out over the life of the contract, and some of that salary cap relief could go to Williams right away. 

Williams' status isn't the hold up between Scherff and the Redskins. Whatever is the actual holdup best be resolved soon. or the Redskins are beginning down an all too familiar franchise path.


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Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

USA Today

Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

ATLANTA—Anibal Sanchez outpitched Mike Soroka and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning, Matt Adams homered and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 5-3 on Saturday night.

Second-place Washington pulled within 5 games of the NL East-leading Braves, improving to 33-14 since May 24, best in the majors over that span. Atlanta has dropped four of five.

Sanchez (6-6) got a big assist in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Trea Turner turned a bases-loaded double play, leaping to nab Nick Markakis' liner and throwing to first to beat Josh Donaldson back to the bag.

Soroka (10-2) allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. He had won 10 straight decisions, best by an Atlanta pitcher since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux had a 10-decision streak in 2001.

Sean Doolittle got the last five outs, facing the minimum, for his 21st save in 25 chances. He struck out Ronald Acuna Jr. with a runner at second to end the eighth and breezed through the ninth.

Washington went up 4-1 in the fifth when Sanchez reached on an infield single to third, took second on Donaldson's throwing error and scored on Turner's double. Turner took third on Adam Eaton's single and scored on Anthony Rendon's single. Eaton scored on Juan Soto's single.

The Nationals took a 5-3 lead in the eighth off A.J. Minter as Turner singled, stole second and scored on Eaton's single.

Adams went deep for the 15th time, an opposite-field homer that bounced off the top of the wall in left-center and into the stands to tie it at 1-all in the fourth.

Sanchez, who pitched for the Braves last year and helped them win the division, allowed three runs and six hits and has a 2.70 ERA in his last nine starts.

Atlanta led 1-0 in the first when Acuna reached on an infield single, stole second base, advanced on a flyout and scored on Freddie Freeman's single.

Brian McCann's ninth homer, a two-run shot in the sixth, chased Sanchez and cut the lead to 4-3.



NBC Sports Washington's Michael Stearman contributed to this Associated Press story.