It's official. The Redskins have now reached the lowest point of their season. A 20-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday deflated almost any hope the team had of reaching the 2008 postseason.
Many players and coaches continue to say that the team practices at a playoff-like pace and focus hard every week to prepare for these games, so why hasn't it shown when it comes to game time?
"Good question. Even I can't answer that. We are busting our tail in practice. Our level of confidence is high. Our execution has been inconsistent and I don't know why," Redskins defensive end Andre Carter said.
Technically, the team is still alive in the playoff race but a lot of luck would have to come the Redskins' way in order for it to happen. At this point, players and coaches are hoping to just salvage the season with a winning record.
"It sure isn't the high point of the season. We have two more games left and I feel it's important that we finish on a winning note. You can't just throw in the towel and say 'see you next year,'" Carter said.
"There is so much to say. I can't even express in words. 'Why?' 'What if?' 'What happened?' 'Why didn't we?' 'How come?' are all said as a player [and] even as a coach. But you can't let the losses bring you down. Just continue to grow as a team and have faith that in bad times, good things will come. Its all a matter of having patience," said Carter, who had four tackles against the Bengals.
The Redskins had another issue the week leading up to their fifth loss in six games, fielding questions regarding critical comments vocal running back Clinton Portis made in a radio interview when discussing head coach Jim Zorn.
"Clinton that day was frustrated, which is understandable. However, Coach Zorn and CP had worked out their differences and continued to work to win. Nothing was affected after CP made that comment," Carter said.
A big issue that arose from Portis' comments was the status of Coach Zorn and his relationship with the team.
When asked if the players had lost confidence in Coach Zorn since Portis' comments were made, Carter simply stated: "None whatsoever."
Portis finished the game with 77 yards rushing, a 45 yard improvement from the previous week against the daunting Ravens run defense.
The Redskins defense, however, allowed many big plays to Cincinnati, including a 79 yard catch-and-run by Bengals running back Cedric Benson and a one-yard touchdown run to young quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Those plays were critical to the 17-0 lead the Bengals quickly obtained.
In an interview following the game, defensive coordinator Greg Blache compared himself to the mother of Forrest Gump, the fictional character played by actor Tom Hanks in the 1994 film. To paraphrase, Blache said that she didn't have the wisest son but she still loved him no matter the circumstance.
When asked to clarify what his defensive leader meant, Carter said: "I think he was referring to the mistakes that we made on defense. Schemes that we have been working on since day one and somehow, some way we mess it up. When it's done, Coach Blache enjoys coaching us because we are a good group. Not so much as players but as men."
This week the Redskins are facing the Philadelphia Eagles, who, just a few weeks ago seemed to have reached the lowest point of their season but have played strong as of late, beating the Cardinals, Giants, and Brown in decisive fashion.
"I don't know what changed. Philly has always pulled through. They stick together as a team and are able to rely on each other for support. I think that's why they are so successful," Carter said.
"This is an NFC East opponent. It's going to be a physical game as usual. I don't expect nothing more or nothing less. Just a straight old-school game," Carter said.
When asked if he had a message for Redskins fans who may be down on the team at this point in the season, Carter said: "Don't give up on us. Come support us and rise as fans and support the Redskins."
Under the Helmet:
THN: What are your plans for Christmas this year? Will you be doing any traveling?
AC: I will be home for Christmas. It's been a long time since I have been home for Christmas. Of course we need to practice first.
THN: What is your favorite Christmas memory?
AC: My favorite Christmas memory was my sister going crazy over her gifts the second we went downstairs. She was possessed.
THN: In your opinion, what was the best Christmas toy of all-time?
AC: The best Christmas toy of all-time when I was a kid was the Nintendo when it first came out. Dang, I am getting old.