But despite Shanahan’s continued inability to provide a spark as Washington has dropped five of its past six games, he made a good move in going young on offense against the 49ers, because evaluating the team’s personnel for 2012 is the most important thing remaining this season.
Washington must determine whether its first- and second-year players — whom Shanahan and his assistants have often praised — are actually capable of helping the team’s inept offense. With so many areas to address on both offense and defense, it’s time for the Redskins to go all in on assessing the strength of their roster from top to bottom. Slowly going nowhere again, Washington should just acknowledge its bleak situation and truly look toward the future. And since Shanahan is the guy in charge, judging his performance in assembling the group also is a key part of the process.
Essentially, with eight games remaining, the Redskins would be giving up if they demoted many veterans in favor of younger backups, critics would argue. Washington would risk losing games while trying to develop players who, ultimately, could prove they’re simply not good enough to become front-line performers on a successful NFL team.
Generally, inexperienced players err more than those who are established. The Redskins have shown they aren’t talented enough to overcome the mistakes their veterans have made. Adding more youth to the mix in sweeping lineup changes could make it even tougher.
All true. And it doesn’t matter. “At this point, you want to see what you have,” special teams captain Lorenzo Alexander said. “With the injuries, you see that gap as far as talent and experience and trying to close that gap, so let’s see if these young guys can do it. They drafted ’em for a reason.”
The injuries on offense are part of the ongoing story. Washington, however, has struggled to score throughout Shanahan’s 9-15 tenure.
In his first start, Helu set a Redskins single-game receiving mark, breaking Hall of Famer Art Monk’s record. But perhaps never before had a Redskins record been achieved in a more meaningless fashion.
Washington’s offense mainly consisted of short passes to Helu out of the backfield. Although San Francisco primarily played a zone defense, Washington’s conservative game plan probably had more to do with quarterback John Beck’s deficiencies than the 49ers’ approach. Helu had 105 yards receiving and 41 yards rushing but also fumbled once.