This team is quickly approaching the moment of truth. After a rather quick start at 3-1, they have fallen to 3-3 and are showing early signs of a full-fledged collapse.
Before the season started, many experts thought the Redskins were a 5-11 or 6-10 team at best, which I didn’t and still don’t think is accurate. That said, sitting at 3-3 with a pretty tough remaining schedule, it’s not out of the question. They’ve already made a quarterback change. Injuries are starting to mount up, and scrutiny and criticism are beginning to pour in from all sides.
All hope is not lost though. There is still plenty of talent on this team, and the division and the league as a whole are still largely wide open.
Because of the injuries they’ve sustained so far, and because some of the players are under-performing, here are a few changes I think Mike Shanahan has already thought about making as well as some I think he SHOULD start thinking about:
1) With Santana Moss out for five to seven weeks, it’s time to shuffle the wide receivers. Not only that, even when Santana was in there, the passing game has been pretty stale. Mike Shanahan said yesterday that Anthony Armstrong and/or Niles Paul would take Moss’ place along side Jabar Gaffney in the starting lineup. I would vote for Niles Paul because he’s more versatile, but I think Shanahan can make some more changes here as well. Despite his apparent wrong route last week against Carolina, I still strongly support giving Leonard Hankerson some playing time. Same thing with Terrence Austin. Put him in the slot. He could kill it there. I’m not sure how healthy Donte’ Stallworth is, but either way, let him sit. The active wide receiving corps should be as follows on Sunday: Jabar Gaffney, Niles Paul, Anthony Armstrong, Terrence Austin, and Leonard Hankerson, and all five guys should get plenty of playing time.
2) With Tim Hightower done for the year, Ryan Torain and Roy Helu must step in. Kind of obvious I know, but it goes deeper than that. Not only should they take over Hightower’s carries, but Mike and Kyle Shanahan need to acknowledge and adapt to the differences between the three guys. Torain isn’t quick enough to get outside. Keep him north and south. Use Helu on the speed/stretch runs. Also, activate Evan Royster from the practice squad and get him into the mix as well. No need to look elsewhere around the league.
3) It’s time to consider other options in the return game. I don’t know if Brandon Banks still isn’t fully healthy or what, but he’s not getting the job done. More importantly, he’s eating up a roster spot. It’s hard for me to believe that Terrence Austin or Niles Paul couldn’t be more productive, and they’re both a lot more versatile. Put him on IR and re-evaluate next year.
4) Put Chris Cooley on IR. Not only is his hand jacked up, but he’s still dealing with a major knee issue. Fred Davis and Logan Paulsen are more than capable of producing in this offense. Why not shelve Cooley and activate Mike Sellers for his versatility on special teams, at tight end, and at full back.
5) The defense needs more speed. That became pretty evident on Sunday against the Panthers. Rocky McIntosh, god love him, is too slow for this defense, which is why they almost let him walk in the first place. Perry Riley or Keyaron Fox would give the linebacking corps some much needed speed. Additionally, if either Laron Landry or OJ Atogwe can’t go, stop turning to Reed Doughty. Go with rookie DeJon Gomes. He’s faster and more capable of making plays.
The time for being proud and conservative is over. Changes and adjustments, sometimes of the drastic nature, or a necessity for success in this league.