By Tim Brant:
I've played on a team that started with a terrible record, and it is no fun.
Everything changes. The locker room becomes much more subdued and anybody who gets a little loud is perceived not to be taking things seriously enough.
The players all say the politically correct things to the media about sticking together, staying confident and taking care of business on the field, but in reality everybody is walking on eggshells. The pressure builds. The fan base gets a little anxious and everybody has a complaint.
A winless record is a painful thing, and the game goes from being fun to an arduous job. It's hard and even harder to turn things around.
Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan is going to take a lot of the blame for his team's disastrous 0-3 start to the 2013 season, but Robert Griffin III will take even more. He ate up the adulation and thrived on the praise.
Now, this horrid start will be a test of his character.
I have said since early August that the Redskins should take their time bringing Griffin back to full speed. I suggested the the skins start Kirk Cousins until the bye and play Griffin sparingly in the early games to build his confidence and sharpen his skills.
Then, after the bye, they could have made RG3 the starter again. But that is in the past.
It's not just that Griffin missed the preseason games; he missed the entire offseason. He had to rehab intensely to get back to the skill level he had before the injury, instead of elevating his skill level from where he was at the end of his rookie year.
The result is an early season sophomore slump. Now the team is 0-3, a record from which few teams recover to reach the playoffs.
The Redskins will fight hard not to overreact, but it is hard. Finger pointing and bad mouthing is Little League stuff and shouldn't take place in a high school, college or pro locker room. However, an 0-3 start, even at the pro level, screams for leadership.
This mental and physical turnover-laden and penalty-filled breakdown of fundamentals has to change in the locker room. The team leaders have to guide this team through this minefield of emotions with skill of time tested veterans.
We will learn volumes about Shanahan, Griffin and the 2013 Redakins in the next several weeks.
The good news, for what it's worth, is that the Redskins have shown improvement in every game.