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Need to Know: Was tumultuous week a distraction for the Redskins?

Nov 3, 2013, 6:25 AM EST

Shanahan-RG3

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, November 3, the day the Washington Redskins host the San Diego Chargers.

Potential distractions abound but players should have no excuse

It was one of those weeks at Redskins Park.

It started with a loss to the Broncos that may have been closer than the 45-21 final would indicate but there were plenty of issues. Denver scored 38 unanswered points in the second half so there was plenty for the defense to be concerned about. But Robert Griffin III couldn’t get untracked, posting the worst passer rating of his career, so it wasn’t all on the defensive side of the ball.

In the locker room after the game Pierre Garçon lamented the state of the Redskins’ passing game saying, “If you suck at passing, you suck at passing.” He said that he wasn’t blaming Griffin exclusively but certainly some luster has come off of last year’s rookie of the year.

Then on Monday, Brandon Meriweather returned from his one-game suspension and said that he was going to have to start hitting offensive players lower, possibly risking torn ACLs. For good measure, he took a shot a Bears receiver Brandon Marshall, bringing up a previous domestic violence incident.

The trade deadline came and went on Tuesday and little-used tight end Fred Davis was still a Redskin. That promoted an odd session with the media on Wednesday in which he admitted that he has “nodded off” during meetings but he still thought he may have been made inactive in the last two games due to a clause in his contract that pays him $500,000 if he is on the game-day active list 12 times during the season.

On Thursday, Post columnist Sally Jenkins published a piece that took some unveiled shots at Griffin, calling him “an unteachable know it all” who has “the owner on speed dial” and is “calling all the shots” on the Redskins. Although Jenkins lives in New York and is rarely around Redskins Park, she does have connections in the organization so it would be a mistake to dismiss the column out of hand.

Going on sort of in the background all week was a war of words between former Redskins tight end and current radio talker Chris Cooley and ex-Redskins defensive tackle and current, well, nothing really, Albert Haynesworth. In the exchange, Haynesworth took a shot at Mike Shanahan, calling him, among other things, “conniving”. That prompted a response by Shanahan, who said that Haynesworth had the triple crown of issues: “lazy, lack of passion and a lot of times a lack of character.”

That drew a good laugh from many in the media and fans who remember the bad old days when Haynesworth was lying down on the field while the Eagles’ Mike Vick was scrambling circles around the defense. But it was one more layer of potential distraction in a week that was full of them.

It didn’t seem like the players who weren’t directly involved in the various incidents paid much attention to them. Players in the locker room were asked about what Meriweather said about going for the knees and about the topic of the emphasis on high hits in general. That’s part of the game. But if players were asked to respond to “suck at passing”, Davis nodding off, Griffin as an “unteachable know it all”, or Cooley and Shanahan vs. Haynesworth it was very limited and not enough to be an issue.

If the Redskins do lose to the Chargers it will be because Griffin still isn’t quite sharp enough to break through San Diego’s bend-but-don’t-break defense or because Philip Rivers is playing out of his mind or due to some other on-field factor. It won’t be because of some things that distracted the fans and media but didn’t have much of an effect on the players who will line up today.

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