Redskins eschew ‘Victory Monday’ after Giants win

There were a few calls of ”Victory Monday,” ”Victory Monday”
in the Washington Redskins locker room after the long overdue win
over the nemesis New York Giants.

Linebacker London Fletcher and other team captains vetoed that
idea in a hurry.

The Redskins didn’t have the day off frequently given to NFL
players after a win. They reported to the team facility Monday to
review film, get some time in the weight room and then head to the
field to review ”corrections” from Sunday’s 28-14 season
opener.

”There has never been a time in the past,” said tight end
Chris Cooley, who has been with the team since 2004, ”where the
players said `We’re going to come in and work – we’re not going to
take a day off.”’

According to the players, there was no grousing – at least not
out loud – when Fletcher spoke up. The more conscientious ones
would have showed up anyway to do individually the work they ended
up doing as a group. Besides, this year’s Redskins say they have a
new, confident attitude that makes them want to put in the extra
hours.

”That’s the different mindset that this team has,” fullback
Darrel Young said. ”That’s the best thing I’ve heard all season so
far. We don’t want Monday off. I know London has a (Super Bowl)
ring, but he wants another one. Being behind a leader like that,
this is where I want to be.”

Fletcher tried to downplay his role in nixing the push for
Victory Monday, saying he felt coach Mike Shanahan wasn’t going to
grant a day off so early in the season.

But the veteran gave another reason for wanting to hang around
the building. Redskins Park is a happier place right now, almost
distraction-free. It got to be such a drag over the years for a
captain like Fletcher – even after a victory – to come in and deal
with Albert Haynesworth or Clinton Portis or a coach under fire or
a retired Bingo-caller being hired to rescue the offense – or some
other bizarre saga.

”Coach Shanahan, he and (general manager) Bruce Allen have come
in and cleaned out a lot of the negativity that’s been around this
place, this building, this team, for a number of years,” Fletcher
said. ”It’s great to be able to come in and just focus on football
and not have to worry about answering questions about this
teammate, this distraction, this situation.”

”Several years ago I was thinking, `Man, how much longer do I
even want to be a part of this?’ It definitely rejuvenates you. You
enjoy coming to work, and that hasn’t always been the case when
you’re dealing with some of the stuff that’s been around here in
the past.”

For what it’s worth, Shanahan said he wasn’t planning to call a
Victory Monday. Shanahan, who incidentally claims to be the coach
who invented the Victory Monday concept with the Denver Broncos in
the 1990s, said he was ”very impressed” when Fletcher made it a
moot point.

”When London said that, it made it a whole lot easier,”
Shanahan said.

There were, indeed, several reasons to show up for work,
especially for the starters along the offensive line. Rex Grossman
was sacked four times, and the Redskins’ running backs managed a
meager 2.8 yards per carry against a much-depleted Giants defensive
line.

”We’re not getting our (butts) kicked,” center Will Montgomery
said. ”We’re just not clean on a few things, which is very
correctable.”

But, overall, it’s been a long time since the Redskins have been
so exuberant one game into a season. Maybe it’s because they
finally beat the Giants after a six-game skid against the NFC East
rival. Maybe it’s because they finally won a game going away –
their biggest margin of victory last year was just six points.

Cooley, for his part, doesn’t want to temper the excitement,
saying he hasn’t felt this good about the team since the late
playoff run in 2005.

”I don’t think anyone needs to pump the breaks right now,”
Cooley said. ”I think everyone needs to continue to build on the
excitement. Everyone needs to continue to build on the confidence.
Obviously we’re not going to go into a game and overlook an
opponent, but we need to go into games saying we’re going to win
this football game – not we can play with these guys, or we can do
well.”

Running back Tim Hightower was first to sign up. He’s already
guaranteeing a win on Sunday over his old team, the Arizona
Cardinals.

”We’re going to win this game,” Hightower said. ”I want to
win this game. This one means a lot to me.”

Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP