Losing streaks have become annual Redskins ritual

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The Washington Redskins have been through this movie before. Putting Mike Shanahan in the director's chair has yet to change the script much at all.

For the 12th consecutive season, the Redskins have a three-losing streak. It's the longest such run of annual misery in the NFL, according to STATS LLC, and it's getting worse by the week. After a 3-1 start, they fell behind 20-0 in a 20-13 loss to Philadelphia, then lost by 13 points to Carolina before getting shut out 23-0 on Sunday by Buffalo.

The talk is no longer whether the Redskins (3-4) can be a playoff team. It's whether they can be merely competitive.

''You see it on the field,'' linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. ''We're not moving the ball on offense. Not stopping anybody on defense.''

At least this Redskins team has yet to show serious signs of imploding, in part because Shanahan went to great lengths to build a roster of high character players. Yet, for Alexander, that makes the losing even more perplexing.

''It would be easier to accept if guys weren't showing up, and coming in late, staying out past curfew,'' Alexander said. ''If guys were doing that, you could say, `Oh, this is why we're not winning.' It's kind of hard when you're actually doing all the little things right, and it ain't showing up on Sundays.''

There were heated words on the sideline against the Bills when linebacker London Fletcher erupted at safety LaRon Landry for blowing the coverage on a touchdown pass. Players and coaches are downplaying the incident, saying it's the type of frustration that happens in the heat of the moment, but it was not a pretty sight.

''The more adversity we face and the harder things get, it makes it tougher to stick together,'' defensive tackle Barry Cofield said. ''This is when you need your leadership and your coaching and things like that to really step in, so we'll see.''

When the games start getting out of reach well before the final whistle, the focus shifts more to coaches and whether they are properly preparing the players. Sunday marked the first time Shanahan has been shut out in 24 seasons as an NFL head coach or offensive coordinator, an experience he called ''humbling.''

''Everybody's disappointed when you lose, there's no question about it,'' Shanahan said. ''Especially when you lose the way we did, without scoring a point. You find out what type of character you have by the work ethic that the players have, how they come back, and hopefully we'll put a full game together.''

The NFL issued a news release Monday proclaiming that nine teams are averaging at least 25 points per game, on pace to tie a league record. The Redskins haven't scored 25 points in a game since Week 1 and have managed only eight touchdowns in their last six games.

The offense is reeling in part because of injuries and a switch in quarterbacks, but the defense doesn't have that excuse. All 11 regulars started Sunday and nearly allowed a third straight 400-yard game. The Redskins have given up 36 plays of 20-plus yards this season, tied for third most in the NFL through Sunday.

Shanahan was asked for explanations and possible solutions on Monday. Among his thoughts:

- He alluded several times to the injuries that have debilitated the offense and forced a shuffle along the offensive line. The Redskins have lost running back Tim Hightower, tight end Chris Cooley and left guard Kory Lichtensteiger for the season and are currently without receiver Santana Moss and left tackle Trent Williams.

''We've got some young players that are playing that I think have a big upside at a number of positions. Obviously, it's not going got happen overnight,'' Shanahan said. ''I've got a belief in these guys that they will play well - hopefully much better than we played yesterday.''

- That especially goes for John Beck, who completed 20 of 33 passes for 208 yards with two interceptions in his second Redskins start. He was also to blame for some of the nine sacks allowed by the Redskins, tying a franchise record. The 30-year-old quarterback's rating (69.9) is only slightly better than that of benched starter Rex Grossman (66.5).

''John, like most young quarterbacks, is going to go through some growing pains,'' Shanahan said. ''There's going to be some good games; there's going to be some games that are a little off. I would say yesterday would have been one of the games that you'd say John was a little off.''

- The Redskins' only consistent threat on offense, tight end Fred Davis, was wearing a walking boot on his left foot Monday. Shanahan said Davis has a mild ankle sprain and that it will be ''hopefully not too long'' before Davis can practice.

- Shanahan said he was ''pretty comfortable with the play-calling'' by his son, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

- The Redskins had a field goal blocked for an NFL-high third time this season. Mike Shanahan said the fault Sunday lay with kicker Graham Gano, whose kick was too low.

- Despite the latest in the streak of losing streaks, the coach plans no major change to the team's weekly routine.

''The first thing you try to do is go back to the basics, and that's good practices,'' he said. ''We'll continue to try to do that, and do that day by day. It's the only way you've got a chance.''


Joseph White can be reached at

Tagged: Redskins, Lorenzo Alexander, John Beck, Fred Davis, Tim Hightower

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