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When asked to comment on the Haynesworth situation, Dan Snyder kept his answer simple; "I believe Mike Shanahan speaks for all of us."
For a man who once stuck a quart of vanilla ice cream in his offensive coordinators refrigerator to send him a message, that is a huge improvement.
It's why it's so annoying and wrong headed when people claim that nothing about the Redskins has changed. Yes, they signed some veteran talent. Yes, they had a big time signing that involved trading away draft picks. No, they did not make the playoffs.
But things have changed. All you have to do is ask the players. Several of the players have stepped forward and said that before this season, they would come to practice, do their thing, and go home. Now they hang out, work out, study, and are a better team overall. Teams take on the personalities of the coaches, and what was once a catty locker room has mellowed out into the "coach doesn't like us talking about that kind of thing" kind of locker room.
The biggest proof of the change has been Clinton Portis. Portis has been much maligned for his antics over the years; his cushy relationship with the owner and his devotion to practicing have been been criticized. But suddenly, when Mike Shanahan was coming to town, Portis straightened up. He cut weight. He practiced. He worked hard all summer and retained his starting job.
They have some hard losses this season, but they never seem to quite fighting back. They don't stop working, don't try to make a bad situation better. They play hard. They have stopped blaming their failing on each other and turned the focus inward. "I didn't make that play. I didn't make that catch, or that tackle".
The Era of Accountability has officially begun. Many people want to comment on how old the team is. "Your team started Joey Galloway!" They'll laugh. No one seems to realize that, as the season has gone on, the team has gotten younger, not older. Younger guys are being asked to step up and make the most of their opportunities, and they have. Older vets are being challenged by the younger guys.
It may not be showing up on the field, but I truly believe that this is the best team we've had in some time. I don't think anyone lied to me about how this season was going to end up. I thought we'd got 7-9 at worst, 8-8 at best and 9-7 by a miracle. We're pretty much lined up right at that.
This team is being built to be a contender, and it will be a contender sooner than you think. You just have to believe and be patient a bit.
The culture of the team has changed. It might be time for the culture of the fans to change as well.