Shanahan: "You don't balance unless someone gets hurt."
A day after the Redskins were officially eliminated from the postseason hunt, Coach Mike Shanahan said he’ll continue to focus on winning the final four games rather than playing his younger players for the sake of evaluation.
“Players know when you’re playing for the future,” Shanahan said. “Players know that [the coach’s] job is to play the best players that give you the best chance to win. If you want to see a team turn on you, just go start playing younger players and start playing for the future.”
Asked specifically about his three young offensive linemen—Tom Compton, Adam Gettis and Josh LeRibeus—Shanahan would only say they are improving. None has started a game; LeRibeus, a third round choice in 2012, has not been active once this season.
Of all the position groups, a shakeup along the offensive line would seem to be warranted. Robert Griffin III has been sacked 19 times the past four games. Peyton Manning, by comparison, has been sacked 15 times all season.
“I think there are a number of guys that are very close,” Shanahan said, without naming names. “But like I said at the beginning, they’re close. Are they there yet? If you’re going to put a guy in that’s close and you’re not playing the best player, then what you’ve told your football team is that you are evaluating these young guys and you really don’t care about the game [and] what you do is care about the future. If you want to lose a football team, that’s the first thing you do.”
Shanahan added: “Now if that person warrants a chance to play because it’s very, very close in competition that’s a different story.”
The veteran coach wouldn’t say which young players might be close to cracking the lineup.
"They're being evaluated every day," he said. "Just because a guy's on the practice square or because you're out of the playoff race, [that] doesn't mean somebody is going to be elevated just to see what he can do in a game. The best players are going to play and they've got to earn the right, regardless of [whether] they are draft choices or veteran players."