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Redskins players, Jim Zorn see opposite views of team in turmoil
Updated 9/28/2009 7:26 PM ET
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — The scene was surreal, showing signs of a disconnect between players and coach.

On the day after the Washington Redskins infamously became the team that broke the Detroit Lions' losing streak, veterans spent 45 minutes or so in the locker room expressing big picture concerns — attitude, approach, overconfidence, unity, identity — stuff that goes beyond executing the Xs and Os in a game plan.

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Minutes later, coach Jim Zorn stood behind his lectern for his weekly news conference. He downplayed his players' comments, put a premium on the need to "fine-tune" the Xs and Os and declared: "In the big picture, I think things are progressing."

Coach in denial? Or just a coach on the hot seat determined to stay calm and stay the course, even as questions about his job security continue to mount.

For the record, the big picture, at least as of this week, shows the Redskins settling among the dregs of the NFL, losing to the Lions after winning without a touchdown over the St. Louis Rams. If nothing else, according to linebacker London Fletcher (FSY), this should put an end to any thoughts among his teammates about the Redskins being "one of the elite teams" in the NFL.

"Maybe guys tend to think that, and that you can just show up," Fletcher said. "That's not the case. We're struggling to win ballgames. We're going to be in tough ballgames, week-in and week-out.

"We're not a great football team — never have been since I've been here — and it hasn't been in a long time, since, what, the '80s? It's been a long time since the Redskins have had a great football team. We have to come in here with a workmanlike attitude, with the mindset that we must work to win."

Or, as cornerback DeAngelo Hall (FSY) put it: "We've got a lot of people in here that think they're better than they are. You can look at it and tell. They're not practicing. This isn't the preseason; this is the real deal."

What was stunning for some players is that this was a team that was booed off its own field a week earlier against the Rams — yet was unable to channel the anger or frustration from that moment into a determined effort with league-wide humiliation on the line.

"It's surprising to me that we as a team couldn't come out and pound and jump on these guys from start to finish," Hall said. "It puzzles me, too. I'm mind-boggled as well."

While the coach plays a major role in setting such a tone, there's something to be said about the overall culture established in 10 years of Dan Snyder's ownership. Interestingly, the last three coaches he has hired — including Zorn — have gone 9-10 in their first 19 games. And, of all games — at a time when his team needed to be focused to the max — Snyder picked Sunday to have movie star pal Tom Cruise hobnobbing on the field with Zorn and others before kickoff.

"As a team we're not going to point fingers and say this guy wasn't ready, that guy wasn't ready. WE weren't ready," cornerback Fred Smoot (FSY) said. "Individuals don't win championships, don't win playoff games. Teams do. That's what we've got to do. We've got to become a team."

When the locker room doors were shut and it came Zorn's turn to speak, it sounded almost as if he were coaching some other team.

Are there some big-issue problems that go beyond blocking, running and tackling?

"I don't believe there is," Zorn answered. "In the big picture, I think things are progressing. We're getting better. It's not coming in the win. We're going to continue to press on and take care of those details."

Asked to react to the specific comments from his veterans, he attributed them to the natural thoughts that run through players' minds.

"After a big loss like that, I can imagine, there's a lot of things that go on through guys' minds," he said. "Thoughts. It is a thought. I don't have that thought. We're going to push right along, regroup, and I think our guys are resilient and I think they'll come back."

Does he think he could lose the locker room?

"I would be really surprised," he said. "I think we have excellent men in that locker room. I think we have great captains. They handle a lot of that stuff. Our captains are doing a wonderful job of keeping our guys together."

What does Zorn plan to say to the team this week?

"I will be real to them," Zorn said. "I don't need to yell at a bunch of men to say 'Come on guys, let's really go now.' Or I don't need to try to play a psychological game with them either. The thing that I'd like to show them is what actually happened, regroup and then make some changes if necessary, some fine-tune adjustments as we go on to next week."

Notes: Weird stats: The Redskins finished Sunday eighth in the NFL in yards per play, but 29th in points per game. ... QB Jason Campbell (FSY) has some of the best numbers of his career, completing more than two-thirds (67.6 percent) of his passes with a 92.5 rating, yet he's thrown only 3 TDs. ... The defense is allowing third-down conversions 51.2% of the time, worst in the league.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Posted 9/28/2009 5:34 PM ET
Updated 9/28/2009 7:26 PM ET
Redskins coach Jim Zorn is under fire after his team stumbled to a 1-2 start, including a loss in Deeoit
By Paul Sancya, AP
Redskins coach Jim Zorn is under fire after his team stumbled to a 1-2 start, including a loss in Deeoit