- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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You knew that Washington Redskins return man Brandon Banks shouldn't have fielded that punt at the goal line in the Thanksgiving Day game in Dallas. And I knew that Washington Redskins return man Brandon Banks shouldn't have fielded that punt at the goal line in the Thanksgiving Day game in Dallas. Banks probably knew it too, if you ask him honestly, but he did it anyway, and it was one of several questionable decisions he made in the game.
Well, Mike Shanahan is planning to stick with Banks in the returner role, though he's interested in evaluating Banks' decision-making and working with him on it. Banks is viewed by the Redskins' coaches as a valuable guy due to his unusual speed, and if anything the Redskins are trying to find more ways to work him into the offense. Per Mike Jones:
"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."
What the Redskins have here with Banks is a good old-fashioned conundrum. They have a guy who's really only on the team because he offers the potential for the spectacular, game-breaking play. And in order to avoid disaster in the return game, they find themselves having to coach him not to always try for the spectacular, game-breaking play. There's no doubting Banks' speed or its usefulness, and that speed is the reason he's continued to get second chances in Washington in spite of not yet showing enough consistency. But at some point, if that speed doesn't come with improved reliability, you have to wonder how many more chances it will buy him.