No more turmoil - Redskins are 'boring' winners
ASHBURN, Va. (AP)
The Washington Redskins are finding that winning can be a bit humdrum - and that's OK with them.
''It's boring,'' linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said with a smile. ''That's the way it should be. That's how good organizations are run.''
Players in the locker room are answering questions about football and not much else, a simple but almost revolutionary concept for a franchise that has specialized in turmoil and distraction for the better part of a decade. It's a refreshing change for those who have been around a while.
''It's all about football. It's nothing,'' defensive lineman Kedric Golston said. ''The headlines aren't dominated by two or three people. I wouldn't necessarily say it's boring, I would say it's operating the way an NFL team or any team or any business should operate, focusing on the task at hand.''
There's no understating the significance of this development. From Deion Sanders to Albert Haynesworth, the Redskins this millennium have fed the NFL world a constant stream of tabloid-worthy entertainment. Unhappy players. Colorful coaches. Aggravated agents. An impatient owner. Not to mention the days when the Redskins beat doubled as a police beat for reporters scrambling to keep track of players' various legal mishaps.
When coach Mike Shanahan arrived last year, he not only wanted a winning team, he wanted a well-behaved team. It took 18 months of roster makeover - climaxed by the trade of the larger-than-life Haynesworth to New England - to steady the ship.
''They did a great job of vetting guys before they drafted them or signing them,'' Alexander said. ''They're great athletes, but I think a lot of them are better people. I think that pays more dividends in wins and losses than anything.''
Shanahan himself contributes to the tone with no-nonsense, close-to-the-vest news conferences that could put anyone but a die-hard to sleep. He's in full lockdown mode now that the regular season is under way, giving vague and repetitive answers about injuries and schemes.
It's a long way from 2008, when coach Jim Zorn was telling stories about skinning a coyote. Or 2009, when Zorn was replaced as the play-caller by someone who had been calling Bingo games.
''Most of the time I've been around boring teams, so that's what you like,'' Shanahan said. ''You like guys taking care of business, and I guess compared to the first year, it is kind of boring.''
That's not to say the Redskins are devoid of personality and character. There are few wild cards still around, and they still make some noise.
Safety LaRon Landry criticized the training staff on Twitter a couple of weeks ago and had to recant a few days later. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall raised a bit of a ruckus this week when he said he was going to target Tony Romo's broken rib during Monday night's game at Dallas. Owner Dan Snyder put himself back into the news recently by dropping his defamation lawsuit against the Washington City Paper, ending a legal saga that brought the owner widespread criticism.
But, so far at least, those are the exceptions, not the rule. On Thursday, receiver Anthony Armstrong jokingly wondered how the reporters surrounding his locker were going to keep busy.
''You don't have to worry about `X and X' player doing `X and X' of this, that and the third,'' Armstrong said. ''It's kind of calm. I think it's killing you guys. I think you guys are really looking for something to do, something to stir up, and there's nothing to stir. You can talk about how boring and monotonous it is to see these guys come in, go to work, do their job and go home. Nice and quiet. That's how we like it.''
Of course, it helps that the Redskins, a consensus pick to finish last in the NFC East, are 2-0 headed into the showdown with the Cowboys.
''When you win, it kind of cures all - because now you're not poking and trying to figure out who was where and where was where,'' Golston said. ''I'm sure guys are still going out to eat on Thursday nights and Friday nights. When you win, they're non-issues.''
There's still a long way to go in 2011. Just as 2-0 doesn't guarantee a division title, two weeks without a scandal doesn't mean it'll stay that way throughout the season. Told that Alexander had called the team ''boring,'' tackle Trent Williams nodded approvingly - then raised his eyebrows just a tad.
''Knock on wood,'' he said.
Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP