Coach clarifies his postgame comments

ASHBURN -- The words made the coach sound like he was ready to start focusing on 2013 as much as the final seven games. Mike Shanahan talked about the reality of the Redskins' situation after Sunday's loss to Carolina: The playoffs were a long shot, so deciding who would remain here in the future now was the key.

Shanahan, though, said Monday -- trying to clarify remarks he felt were misconstrued by some -- that he was not writing off this season. Rather, he sees a 3-6 record as a test to see how players react to adversity.

"What you want to do is see how your players respond," he said. "I don't care if it's a first-year player or a second-year player or a five-year player or a 10-year player or a 15-year player. We will see how they play now through the rest of the season.

"We better get their best shot. I expect this team to step up and play at a high level. We made a number of cuts over the last couple years to get these type of guys. I think our players will respond the right way. Obviously every game is like a playoff game. We don't have much margin for error."

Only three teams since 1990 have made the playoffs after starting 3-6: New England (1994), Detroit (1995) and Jacksonville (1996).

After the game players were surprised by the comments, though some clearly understood what he was trying to say. But Shanahan said he will talk to them Tuesday about what he meant. He also said he doesn't think players have lost faith in the direction of the program. The Redskins are 14-27 under Shanahan.

"I hope not," he said. "If they are, then I'd be disappointed if you take a look at what we've done. You can always go back to winning and losing; that's the bottom line. I told you a long time ago it was going to take a while, and I like the direction we're going, both on offense and defense. There are no excuses in this job."

Shanahan again defended the Redskins' direction. He said he knows where they're headed and does not need assurances.

"All you have to do is ask Dan Snyder that," Shanahan said. "If he feels this team is going in the right direction, then you ask him, not me. I know I'm going in the right direction."

The Redskins have lost three straight and have watched their defense plummet to 28th in the NFL (and 30th against the pass). Injuries explain some -- but not all -- of the issues. But offensively the Redskins found their promising young quarterback in Robert Griffin III.

"This is the first year we've had a quarterback," Redskins linebacker London Fletcher said. "You see with Robert he's going to be a great player and he'll give you a great chance to win. Now you continue to build pieces around him to make sure you're going in the right direction and you're competing for championships."