Mike Shanahan: 'Step up,' Washington Redskins vets

The 2012 Washington Redskins are better than the first two Mike Shanahan teams in Washington. It just hasn't shown up the standings yet.

After the Redskins won six games in 2010 and five games in 2011, Robert Griffin III and friends are 3-5 at the midway point. Shanahan noted that this week's game against the Carolina Panthers essentially is a must-win. And the coach wants more help from his veteran leaders.

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"This is where normally football teams are taken over by their veterans," Shanahan said in response to a question about his defense. "You can go one direction or the other. You expect these guys to play at a higher level, even with some inexperienced guys. You expect them to get the most out of these other players that may not have played at the highest level they can. It’s either step up or shut up. And this is where you've got to get it done."

It's hard not to think Shanahan is sending a message here to some of his more vocal defensive players like DeAngelo Hall. The Redskins' offense is a legitimate top-10 group this year. They are dangerous running and throwing. They are a better side of the ball than anything Shanahan has had in Washington.

The defense under Jim Haslett is worse than ever, with Brian Orakpo's season-ending injury proving to be a crippling blow. Shanahan's message or clear: Things need to turn around, or big changes will be made in the offseason.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.