We will run photos of cute animals in this space until the Redskins win again. Photograph by Flickr user SingleDadLaughing
A week ago, Mike Shanahan was playing coy on the subject of rebuilding, going so far as to deny knowledge of the word itself. Today, following a fifth straight loss, it should be every other word out of his mouth. The 2011 Redskins score about as often as the US men’s national soccer team, and it’s clear they are not built to win. The rest of this miserable season will be about evaluation.
The Skins have quite a bit of young talent on their roster, including ten players at or under the age of 23. If Shanahan (or anyone else) is going to turn the franchise around anytime soon, he needs to find out which of these players can help the team win down the road.
Terrence Austin, WR—The former seventh-round pick is just starting to get a chance to show what he can do on Sundays. This week, it wasn’t much. He was targeted just one time after catching eight passes over the past four weeks. If ever there were a depth chart on which to make a splash, this would be it. Instead, it’s new sign David Anderson getting the reps.
Brandon Banks, KR/PR—A year ago, he was as popular as anyone on the roster. Now fans are calling for his release on Twitter. Being the smallest guy in the league is only cute when you’re breaking off 40 yard returns.
DeJon Gomes, S—Gomes remains the fourth man in Washington’s safety rotation. If LaRon Landry and Oshiomogho Atogwe could just figure out a way to sync up their injuries, DeJon might get some meaningful snaps. As nice a guy as Reed Doughty is, it would be great to see what the Skins have in Gomes.
Leonard Hankerson, WR—Eight catches for 106 yards. We’ve waited so long for you, Hank. You’ve come in many forms, from Michael Westbrook and Rod Gardner to Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly. We’re still extremely vulnerable, so please be gentle.
Roy Helu, RB—Who couldn’t help but be won over by the rookie? Mike Shanahan, obviously. Just when you think Helu has established himself, Shanny sits him for the first few quarters. It’s because he wants to ruin your weekend.
Ryan Kerrigan, OL—Two more sacks, two more forced fumbles. It’s safe to say he’ll be an integral part of the team’s future, whatever that may be.
Chris Neild, NT—What can we say? He provides depth.
Niles Paul, WR—Paul was left off of the active roster this week in favor of Anderson. If he wants to see the field, he’s going to have to bro out with Kyle Shanahan.
Perry Riley, IL—Rocky McIntosh haters, meet your new obsession. Riley made plays all over the field, including more tackles for loss (four) than the rest of the defense combined. Riley’s emergence gives the coaches more flexibility at middle linebacker, especially with Rocky falling out of favor once again.
Markus White, OL—Don’t feel bad, I didn’t know he was on the roster, either.
Trent Williams, OT—I think people would like him a lot more if he weren’t scheduled to make $11 million next year. That’s a hell of a lot of money for a fairly average left tackle, especially one who gets flagged for personal fouls and fails drug tests. Regardless, he’s not going anywhere anytime soon, and they could do a lot worse.
Out of that group, at least half should be in the mix by the time the team is ready to contend (call it two years). In the meantime, the Redskins must continue to develop their young players, and they have to hit on some more high draft picks.