Through five weeks, the Washington Redskins' season has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride. After an impressive road win in Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals, the team looked like a shell of themselves in a Week 2 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Then, following a dominant performance against the Green Bay Packers and a bye week, the Redskins came out flat on Monday night against the New Orleans Saints.
To go back to the roller coaster analogy, the 43-19 loss in Week 5 was like that moment in the ride where after you've slowly built your way to the top, the steep drop happens out of nowhere.
"At times we look like a playoff team, at times we look like a team that should be picking top-five in the draft," offensive lineman Trent Williams said on the team's performance. "So we can't have as big a gap between our play, obviously we gotta try to find a way to level it out."
Coming off a tough loss with a short week ahead and another strong opponent ready to make their way to Landover, it would be easy for the Redskins to sit on the loss and feel sorry for themselves. Fortunately for them, there's no time for that in the NFL.
"It's like 24 hours. Win, lose or draw, no matter how it is," linebacker Mason Foster said about dwelling on the past. "So you watch it, correct it, get yelled at, take the coaching and let it go, man. Focus on never letting it happen again."
As challenging as Monday's performance may have been, by Tuesday the attention shifts to the Carolina Panthers. With the Redskins sitting at 2-2 and at the top of a wide-open NFC East, the only thing that matters now it what's in front of them.
"You don't let it beat you for two weeks in a row," safety D.J. Swearinger Sr. said. "But you keep it in the back of your mind and it gives you a level of knowing what not to do."
A lack of communication and discipline at times hurt the Redskins in New Orleans, while giving them a recipe of what to work on before Carolina. To fix these problems and rebound in Week 6, it starts with a strong week of preparation and practice.
Wednesday the team had a walkthrough rather than a practice. An opportunity to work out and look over faults in Monday's performance while giving some injured players an extra day to rest, the decision has its benefits.
"This day was definitely vital for us to come in and get rehab and just get rid of that bad taste so we can move on," offensive lineman Morgan Moses said. "It's a short week so it's vital for us just to come in and flush what happened on Monday so we can get back to work and get back to business on working on the Panthers."
Following the walkthrough, the remaining practices leading up to Sunday have been just as crucial to the team's success. With problems now identified, the Redskins turn to fixing them on the field.
"Pay attention to the details, sprint to the ball in practice, compete in practice, make sure you're all on the same page at all times," Swearinger Sr. said. "You make it easy in practice it'll be easy on Sundays."
Accountability also becomes important. For some teams, a loss does nothing but cause friction and division as the blame game begins. Yet for the Redskins, a close knit group already, it offers an opportunity for the players to talk through the problems and work together toward finding a solution.
"You got to be able to take it, we're all brothers," linebacker Mason Foster said about players hold each other accountable. "We want to do it for each other, we're a team."
"We just had a little minor setback," Swearinger Sr. said. "But it's just a minor setback for a major comeback."