Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said that he and his staff will “take a hard look,” at struggling punt/kick returner Brandon Banks’ decision making and will try to find ways to get more out of the speedy third-year pro.
Banks’ production has dipped this year. A year after averaging 9.1 yards per punt return, Banks averages 6.8-yards per attempt this season (24th in the NFL), and he 24.1 yards per kick return (23rd in the league).
After making an impact in the preseason, Banks has largely been held in check during the regular season by opponents, and at times, his own questionable decision-making.
It was more of the same for Banks in last Thursday’s game against Dallas.
Twice Banks elected to bring the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs, only to be stopped well short of the 20-yard line. Late in the first quarter, he fielded a punt at the goal line – rather than letting the ball go into the end zone for a touchback – only to be stopped at the 7-yard line, giving his team a long field to work with.
Shanahan expressed confidence in Banks despite the apparent lapses in judgment.
“Brandon is a smart guy, and sometimes, smart guys with a lot of ability, they’re going to try to make plays,” Shanahan said. “There’s common sense that prevails and then there’s a mindset of, hey, you’re going to have to fair catch it or keep it in the end zone. It’s tough with a guy who really believes he’s going to make plays. We’re going to take a hard look at it, make sure he makes the best decisions that are in the best interest of our football team.”
The Redskins have used Banks in some option packages, although most of those plays have featured him as a decoy. But Shanahan said because of the speed and versatility the 5-foot-7, 155-pound Banks possesses, coaches still see value in him.
“The reason why we do have [him] in our offense as a receiver and a running back [is] we know the potential that he has to make plays,” Shanahan said. “He’s made some big plays for us. We’re going to give him those options. He’s a guy who’s got a lot of energy. He can make plays.”