During his Monday press conference, Mike Shanahan essentially shut the door on the Redskins taking a peek at their future. Even though the Redskins are officially eliminated from the playoffs, they will not insert some of their younger players into the lineup to see if they might be long-term solutions for the organizations.
“Just because a guy is on the practice squad or because you’re out of the playoff race doesn’t mean somebody is going to be elevated just to see what he can do in a game,” said Shanahan. “The best players are going to play and they’ve got to earn the right regardless if they’re draft choices or veteran players.”
So even though the offensive line has been struggling it doesn’t look like Tom Compton will get a shot at tackle and Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis won’t get any valuable regular season snaps in the interior line. Bacarri Rambo and David Amerson will continue to play roles in the defense but barring injury the four starters in the defensive backfield, Josh Wilson, DeAngelo Hall, Brandon Meriweather, and Reed Doughty, all of whom will be free agents next spring, will continue to start and play nearly every snap.
Is this the right move for the long-term future of the organization?
Shanahan said that he wants to win as many of the last four games as possible and he is concerned about how the veteran players might feel about such a move even if the younger player was almost as good as the veteran he would be replacing.
“If you want to lose a football team, that’s the first thing to do,” he said.
But why should players who have been the ones playing the vast majority of snaps during this highly disappointing season be considered in the decision as to who plays and who doesn’t? Should the members of the offensive line who have allowed 19 sacks in the last four games be immune from being replaced? Should any member of a defense that has allowed 30.2 points per game, 31st in the NFL, be allowed to feel comfortable in his job?
In short, if he loses the team, what really has been lost?
What Shanahan left unsaid was that the team might need to win some games for him to retain his job. With the team sitting at 3-9 and out of the playoffs for the third time in Shanahan’s four seasons here there has been widespread speculation that a strong finish—or at least a respectable one—would greatly enhance Shanahan’s chances of coming back for the final season of his five-year contract.
So, instead of being treated as a second round of preseason games, the last four games of the year are going to be handled just like a playoff run.
But sticking with the same players who have taken the team to a 3-9 record and who may not be with the team in 2014 may not be good for the Redskins in the long haul.