Quarterback Donovan McNabb thought he'd be able to lean on a running game in Washington, but that hasn't exactly panned out. Coach Mike Shanahan said Monday that the Skins simply didn't have enough plays in the second half (21) to establish the running game, and he's partly right. He wanted to give James Davis more of a chance, but the Skins weren't able to extend drives long enough for that to happen. And it looks like Shanahan gave up on Keiland Williams prematurely against the Vikings. The Redskins finished with 29 yards rushing on 13 carries. It was the second-worst rushing performance since 1994. The running backs combined to have nine carries. The Skins' rushing attack is so awful right now that the return of Ryan Torain would be a huge boost for this offense. When there's absolutely no threat of the running game working, it takes away from what McNabb can do in the play-action game. I was probably too criticial of McNabb's play Sunday. He had at least five drops and his key interception came on a ball that deflected off Santana Moss' shoulder pads. This team entered the season without enough weapons at running back and wide receiver. It's hard to imagine the Redskins pulling the upset at New Meadowlands Stadium on Sunday, but we're planning to show up and document the game anyway.
Rookie Brandon Banks is the breakthrough player of the season for the Redskins. Banks could become what Devin Hester was four years ago. He has explosive speed and the ability to squirt through any hole with his slight frame. His 77-yard punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter was wiped out by a needless block in the back on fellow rookie Perry Riley. I thought Mike Wise of the Post did a nice job of putting that play in perspective. Kyle Shanahan needs to continue looking for ways to get Banks involved in the offense. It was nice to see him on a couple of Wildcat plays early in the game, but the Redskins never came back to it. I'd try send Banks on a double move every now and then and see if he could be a poor man's DeSean Jackson. But you don't want to do anything to take away from his work in the return game. With a player that special on kickoff and punt returns, it can make up for a lot of deficiencies.
It's a shame LaRon Landry's season has been affected by an Achilles' tendon injury. The Redskins strong safety was on his way to a Pro Bowl season, but he's missed the past two games. And Shanahan didn't sound all that optimistic about a quick return: "I can't tell you for sure until he gets out of the boot," said Shanahan on Monday. "When that's gonna be, I'm not really sure. We're gonna look at him and evaluate him day-by-day. We'd like him back as soon as we could. But, obviously, they're not gonna take him outta that boot until they feel like the Achilles makes some strides." I think there's a pretty good chance Landry will end up on injured reserve.
It's time for Shanahan to go with Will Montgomery at right guard. Artis Hicks wasn't signed to be a long-term starter for the Skins. He's a decent backup, but he gets exposed when he's on the field for several games at a time. Montgomery appears to be somewhat comfortable in Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme. I'd leave him in there as the starter the rest of the season. The Redskins' offensive line is suffering from years of neglect. You might as well try to find out if Montgomery has a little something.
Carlos Rogers had some interesting thoughts about playing at home. Ryan O'Halloran of CSNwashington.com has the key quote: "Me and some of the guys were talking about that earlier,” said Rogers. “Sometimes you feel when you’re at home that you’re [playing] away because you get so bashed at home for any little mistake. We come to the sideline or the bench and it’s cussing, it’s this, it’s that and we’re just in the first quarter. We’re like, ‘Are we at home or are we away?’ I think we play better away because the fans are quieter." I think the fans would be a lot more supportive if the Skins mixed in a win or two at home. The Redskins have only had three winning records at home during the Dan Snyder era.