Redskins get back to work after victory

September 12, 2011

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — 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 out loud — when Fletcher spoke up. The more conscientious ones would have shown 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.”

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.”

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