Redskins find it difficult to hide ill effects of demoralizing loss Running back Mitchell frustrated by failure to motivate teammates

October 27, 1997|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER -- Bam Morris not only abused several would-be tacklers yesterday, but he also cut a destructive path through the heart of a Washington Redskins team that has fallen a long way in just 13 days since a Monday night victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

Redskins veteran and team leader Brian Mitchell was so distraught by yesterday's 20-17 loss to the Ravens that he broke down and cried behind closed doors in the locker room.

Quarterback Gus Frerotte was twice on the verge of tears after the beating by Morris and the Ravens.

Many members of the Washington defense scurried for cover in the locker room after Morris ran for 176 yards and one touchdown on 36 carries.

The second straight loss by the 4-4 Redskins also prompted several questions about Frerotte's No. 1 status and coach Norv Turner's ability to light a fire under a team that has been listless since the emotional win over Dallas.

Turner said after the game that Frerotte was still his starting quarterback, but the questions will linger all week.

Frerotte had decent statistics again (17 of 33 for 199 yards and two touchdowns with one interception), but the offense just isn't making enough big plays to win.

Several of Frerotte's throws fell short, and his receivers didn't help him much yesterday, with Jamie Asher, Henry Ellard and Leslie Shepherd all dropping easy catches.

"There are times when we have people open and Gus isn't getting it to them," Turner said. "Other times, there are breakdowns in protection."

The Redskins' fans even came under scrutiny for loudly booing the defense and Frerotte early in the game and for leaving in droves with two minutes left and their team down by 20-17.

After all, Washington's 3-0 record at its new stadium was on the line against its Baltimore rival.

"Our fans expect a lot from us and we expect a lot from them," Redskins rookie linebacker Greg Jones said. "We needed them to be with us today. But I guess I haven't been around here long enough to criticize the fans."

Said Frerotte: "The fans are upset, just like we are, but no fan is more upset than I am. This is the kind of thing that happens when you don't win."

Mitchell said he cried because he has grown tired of talking to his teammates in an attempt to prepare them mentally to play.

"I haven't seen the playoffs since 1992," he said. "Nothing that has been said has helped. Norv has gone on rampages in the locker room and done everything but throw a chair and that hasn't worked. I'm just ready to say nothing and let my actions speak for me. It will be like, 'Look at me. I'm out there busting my butt.' "

Mitchell hurled his body upfield five times on kickoff and punt returns and made several emotional runs in an attempt to inspire his teammates.

It didn't work.

He returned four kickoffs for 140 yards, including a 61-yarder to the Ravens' 39 in the first quarter that set up a 15-yard touchdown pass from Frerotte to Shepherd.

"I believe that any player in this league who needs a coach or anybody else to motivate them probably shouldn't be playing," Mitchell said. "Words from others are nice, but in the end, you have to want it yourself. I come out here to play hard every game whether it's Dallas or Baltimore."

Mitchell is not one of those Redskins players or fans who calls the Baltimore-Washington NFL rivalry all one-sided and residing mostly in Baltimore.

"I have a lot of friends in Baltimore and wanted to win this game badly. It hurts a lot," he said.

After thinking about the day's events for a long time, Mitchell concluded what many around Washington are starting to believe.

"We're not that good that we can come out here and run over anybody," he said.

Mitchell also defended the 75,067 fans for their lack of noise and support yesterday.

"It was raining all day and I wouldn't want to sit down in that rain," he said. "There wasn't a lot of people in those stands out there to make noise."

Pub Date: 10/27/97

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