Approaching a Week 16 matchup with a 5-9 record against a team fighting for a division title, the Redskins could have easily rendered that game as meaningless and packed in their season. But for veterans and younger players alike, jobs are to be had for the 2011 season and it showed with strong performances from guys like Rob Jackson, Jeremy Jarmon and Adam Carriker. Heck, even soon-to-be free agent Carlos Rogers caught an interception.
“I was very happy with their performance. It's all about maximizing your opportunity. Here are two young guys (Jackson and Jarmon) who haven't played many regular season games but they contributed their skill on the field and made things happen,” linebacker Andre Carter said.
While Rob Jackson’s elevation to the roster from the practice squad was mainly because of Brian Orakpo’s groin and hamstring injuries that kept him out against Jacksonville, his performance showed what Coach Mike Shanahan was looking for when he benched Donovan McNabb for Rex Grossman two weeks ago. Shanahan is trying to evaluate his reserves going into next year and the solid performances by the young players on the defensive side against the Jaguars vindicated that decision.
“I think he wanted to see what all the players can do, young and old,” Carter said. “Granted, the younger players are contributing more these past few weeks and I'm sure we will see Rob Jackson put on a show this Sunday.”
Speaking of McNabb, reports surfaced earlier this week that he wanted his release following the season after Shanahan said he would welcome him back if he was willing to return as a backup next year. There was a lot of reaction when he was originally benched and now the debate is whether letting McNabb leave will set the team back at the quarterback position.
“I don't think his release, if it happens, would set the team back. This is the nature of the business. I understand from a player perspective that he needs to go in a different direction,” Carter said.
Carter also feels that despite McNabb’s struggles this year, he played the best he could have.
“McNabb played to his potential despite injuries and the questioning of his ability. He's still one of the best QB’s I know.”
The man who replaced McNabb, Rex Grossman, had a less entertaining performance against Jacksonville than he did against the Dallas Cowboys the week before but still got a 20-17 victory. Grossman completed 19 of 39 passes and threw for 189 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
The Redskins win, capped off by a 31-yard field goal in overtime from Graham Gano, who was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week, meant a lot for everyone on the team. It showed that they still care about winning, even after being eliminated from playoff contention, and that they were not trying to tank the season to get a better draft position.
“It feels great to win after a four game losing streak. It was getting ridiculous with back-to-back losses and not playing to our potential. However, knowing the fact we were no longer playoff contenders and coming into a hostile environment in Jacksonville, we fought our butts off. We had self respect as men and professionals and weren't going to go play as if we lost the game or give it away. It's stupid to think we would purposely lose the game for better draft picks,” Carter said.
The Redskins will attempt to play the role of spoiler yet again in their season finale against the New York Giants, who come limping into FedEx Field after two backbreaking losses.
The Giants gave up a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in one of the most memorable finishes of 2010 two weeks ago and were clobbered by the Green Bay Packers last week in a 45-17 loss at Lambeau Field.
As was mentioned in Week 13’s edition of THN Weekly, the Giants can play like one of the most dominating teams in the NFL during any point of the regular season but can also play like an imploding franchise when it comes to crucial games.
“The Giants often have trouble in November and December but then again, what team doesn't? Wins and losses make the NFL what it is today. The highs and lows [are what] determines the fate of a team week in and week out,” Carter said.”
At 9-6, they are still in position to obtain a playoff spot so the Redskins would like nothing more than to keep an NFC East rival out of the postseason. Carter expects a much more improved Giants team this Sunday than what he has seen the last two weeks.
“I am sure that the Giants are having an intense week of practice and meetings. This game will determine the fate of the players and coaches. They will come to FedEx swinging. This is do or die for them,” Carter said.
TCIYM: Andre, first of all, thank you for taking your time to do this. The personal foul called for roughing the passer looked like a bad call, to say the least. Those calls seem to need to be eligible to be challenged. Do you think this is an issue that should be added to the new CBA? If so, how many offensive players would support those calls being challenged? It almost seems as if the league is trying to divide teams by the rules.
AC: I'm not sure how many offensive players will support the calls being challenged. I don't foresee the new CBA changing its policy. The league is always evolving and the concern is mainly the safety of the players. If a hit is "uncalled" for, then so be it, regardless of how aggressive the impact was.
PAPDOG67: Andre, we heard all week about how the locker room is divided over the whole QB situation. Do you feel that Shanahan has treated Donovan fairly throughout this whole process, or do you think he might be using him as a scapegoat for a losing season?
AC: Shanahan is boss. He went a different direction and his decision is final. D-Mac has never been a scapegoat for a losing season. Our record falls on the responsibility of the players.
VetSkinsFan: Andre, we hear through the media how much on board the players are with the defense but statistics show that the defense is rated worst or close to the worst in the league. How do you and the defensive players feel about the production versus the statistical suggestion?
AC: It's unfortunate we are almost dead last in defense. Yes, we have made progress but we have always had a high standard whether it's a 3-4 or a 4-3. You learn as you go and reflect on your performance week by week as a team.
ATX_Skins: 1. Andre, do you think there is a chance the fans get to see John Beck make an appearance?
AC: We have seen some crazy situations happen at Redskins Park. You never know what this Sunday will bring.
2. Do you see the Lakers going all the way again or are you pulling for an East team?
AC: I said this once and I'll say it again. I will never be a Laker fan.
Deadskins: Andre, have you ever been miked-up for a game? Would you like to be?
AC: I have never been miked up. I don't know if I would enjoy taking on such a task. One, you need to ball out, and two, step out of your personality. I think I'll pass. lol