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Washington Redskins bye week gives players chance to refocus

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Like any good politician, he skirts around questions he doesn't like and sticks to his message. Ask him about a particular interception, and he'll talk about another one instead. And don't dare challenge him with a premise or an assertion without the facts to back it up. You know how golfers can amazingly recite the exact yardage and club for every shot over 18 holes? That's Shanahan with a play-by-play.

Redskins rookie Ryan Kerrigan, the NFL's September Rookie of the Month, has been a key piece of the team so far. (Photo: Associated Press)

"First run we had a plus-6. Second run we had a plus-5. We had first-and-goal from the 1; we put it in the end zone," he said, rattling off a sequence from the Cowboys game as if it were his ABCs.

He offhandedly said earlier this season that he could remember all of the plays from the loss to Houston a year ago. Can that really be so?

"Usually the games you lose, you can remember most of them — if not all of them," he said.

Shanahan also went into detail about a replay review that caused the time to be changed from 1:23 to 1:39 when the Redskins were about to about to close out a one-point win over Arizona in Week 2. Those 16 seconds were key: Given the number of timeouts the Cardinals had remaining, the coach immediately knew he couldn't run out the clock with kneel-downs.

"Those are scenarios you go through 100 times in your mind," he said.

But those final seconds of a game can get frantic. Does he have an assistant coach in the booth upstairs assigned to help with clock management?

Shanahan chuckled. Of course he doesn't. He runs the game himself.

"If I can't do that," he said, "then I'm really in trouble."

It's a curious note that Shanahan's record (9-11) is worse than predecessor Jim Zorn's (10-10) at the 20-game mark of his Redskins tenure. But Zorn's time in Washington was marred by confusion and disorder, although much of it had to do with the front office structure at the time.

Shanahan is not into confusion. He's won two Super Bowls, so he knows what he's doing. And things will be done his way, even if means holding a news conference that competes with Saturday morning cartoons.

That's no guarantee of success, but it certainly makes things more orderly, and it helps push the recent troubled Redskins seasons appear more distant in the rearview mirror.

"What's happened in the past really doesn't relate to what you are right now," Shanahan said. "If you think you're in the past, you are in the past. This is a new team; we've got a lot of new football players. We do have some players that were here before, but the players that are here are obviously hand-picked for this type of offense, defense and special teams and the type of people that they are. Hopefully, we can create our own identity, and hopefully it will be positive."

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