The Washington Redskins are heading into their bye week, but they're really hurtling toward oblivion.
Coach Mike Shanahan said the Redskins faced a "must win" over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. His team couldn't even score a touchdown until the waning moments of a 21-13 loss.
It was ugly, and it's only going to get worse.
The Redskins (3-6) have lost three straight and face the hardest part of their schedule when they return Nov. 18 vs. Philadelphia. That game is followed by a Thanksgiving affair in Dallas and home games against the New York Giants on a Monday night and Baltimore.
Every week is now a must win for the Redskins, but the way the schedule shapes up, it looks more like it will be their fifth straight 2-6 second half.
The king of sidestepping questions, Shanahan was remarkably frank during his postgame presser. He essentially said forget the playoffs; it's time to evaluate players for next season.
"Now you're playing to see who obviously is going to be on your football team for years to come," Shanahan said. "Now we get a chance to evaluate players and see where we're at."
Wow. With seven games left, the coach is talking about next year. That never happens. The Redskins were 0-7 once before the bye, then returned to finish 6-3. Shanahan barely pretended there's a chance for a turnaround.
"Obviously, we're not out of it statistically," he said. "But now we find out what type of character we've got and how guys keep on fighting through the rest of the season."
Several players talked about playing for their careers in the final seven games. Even if they don't return, their game film needs to attract other teams. But this is the kind of talk usually seen in mid-December, not early November.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III wasn't one of the quitters. The rookie hasn't learned that pros play for paychecks once they figure out the playoffs are out of the question. He vowed with youthful energy to continue the fight even when the Redskins are obviously overmatched.
"After the bye, I think you'll see a different team," Griffin said.
That would be refreshing considering this current group isn't showing any hope of bettering last year's 5-11 mark.
The Panthers (2-6) are better than their record. Upset over being the Redskins' "homecoming" opponent, they manhandled the Redskins too often. A 10-minute possession by Washington didn't net points, while Carolina countered with a 98-yard touchdown drive to seal the game.
Thirteen penalties, four sacks allowed, a handful of dropped passes and no special teams plays added up to an empty stadium in the waning moments of another bad loss.
The Redskins weren't expected to be playoff contenders this season. December was reserved for watching Griffin's development. Now maybe Kirk Cousins will get some time if Shanahan is turning the final seven games into a preseason of sorts.
FedUp Field is about to become the new home of Philadelphia, Dallas, New York and Baltimore fans. They will be the majority of 60,000 crowds. Washington fans will head straight to next year, just like the coach.