With four games remaining and zero playoff incentive, itâ€™s time for the Washington Redskins to experiment with their personnel. Itâ€™s virtually a second preseason. Given that they went 4-0 in this yearâ€™s exhibition games, the concept is worth a try.
Actually, itâ€™s all about seeing if reserves like guard Josh LeRibeus and tackle Tom Compton can replace members on an awful offensive line. Whether linebacker Nick Barnett could succeed London Fletcher. And if E.J. Biggers, David Amerson, Jose Gumbs and Bacarri Rambo might revamp the secondary.
After falling to 3-9, the Redskins are now playing for 2014. Coach Mike Shanahan talked of playing for pride, but thatâ€™s a smoke screen to tell fans in hopes theyâ€™ll stay tuned.
The merely 45,000 or so at FedEx Field on Sunday â€” with nearly a third being New York Giants backers â€” showed that Redskins Nation has tuned out once more.
Shanahan would say heâ€™s using his best players. True, but theyâ€™re not good enough. Itâ€™s time to try new ones. Whatâ€™s there to lose?
Once the season starts, reserves donâ€™t get enough snaps in practice to merit promotions. But itâ€™s time to see if LeRibeus and Compton can play after two years on the bench. Either theyâ€™re ready now or they should be offseason castoffs. Maybe they can prevent quarterback Robert Griffin III from being a weekly human pinata. If nothing else, maybe they can help the passer up after hits.
Fletcher is obviously fading at the end of a storied 16-year career. Itâ€™s time to see if Barnett is a two-year stopgap or if they need to add middle linebacker to the offseason wishlist.
The secondary is filled with youngsters, and DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson arenâ€™t under contract next year. Might as well see if their replacements are on the roster.
Itâ€™s time to take some of the guessing out of 2014. Even with a heaping free agency war chest, the Redskins canâ€™t fill all their needs. Itâ€™s time to start prioritizing, and the only way to truly know is by playing reserves.
One thing the Redskins shouldnâ€™t do, though, is bench Griffin for Kirk Cousins. That doesnâ€™t advance the team next season. Griffin needs all the in-game experience he can get. Cousins is a solid backup or he can be used as trade bait.
Griffin hasnâ€™t been as bad as many think. Oh, he stunk against San Francisco and hasnâ€™t progressed as much as the Redskins had hoped, but Griffinâ€™s still the franchise. Heâ€™s too important to fail, so giving him the next four games is critical in his development. However, if he gets even mildly injured then donâ€™t further risk him.
The season may be a waste, but the final month doesnâ€™t have to be.