We are now in the bye week doldrums, a terrible time when only Caps hockey can save us. I thought with the current bye week that it would present us with an opportunity to look at some of the biggest training camp debates we had here at Hogs Haven (sorry you won't find a Rex vs. Beck recap). Today I'll begin the series with my continued infatuation of Brandon Banks and if his performance warrants a roster spot.
I continue to think, as I did in training camp, that Brandon Banks does not deserve a spot on this team or maybe the NFL in general. What I mean by that, is if Banks was cut would another NFL team really jump on him? I don't think so. Banks is certainly exciting to watch, but I think he is a bit of an optical illusion and I also think he has harmed us more than he's produced this season. Banks has certainly had two productive returns that we benefited from, one versus the Giants and one against the Cardinals, but he continues to plague us with bad starting position and terrible decisions. Ten times this year Banks has failed to get the ball back to the 20 yard line, and would of benefited from taking a knee. He has also barely avoided two HUGE mistakes with a couple of fumbles, something that plagued him in the 2010 preseason. Against Dallas he fumbled a ball in the endzone that nearly escaped to the 1 yard line and would of put our offense with their back against the wall. Then last week in St. Louis, Banks took his eyes off a punt and fumbled in Redskins territory, he recovered but was lucky to do so.
The case to keep Banks usually resides in his big play capability. I keep hearing about how he is going to rattle off a touchdown just about every time someone is going to punt or kick to him, but he has lacked that big play ability in four games this year. Last year Banks was a unknown around the NFL and special teams coaches didn't have much tape on him, well this year is a different story. Banks one punt return move seems to be: he runs to the near side of the field, does a spin move, runs backwards trying to reverse the field. That strategy worked last year, but it seems as if opposing teams are keeping a couple of guys in contain on the far side of the field, so Banks cannot "reverse" the field any longer.
My primary case for Banks not being on this team is the fact they, I think, we have two very viable options already on the team in Terrence Austin and Niles Paul. While Banks tries to reverse the field and go from side to side, Austin and Paul are more north/south guys and I think that is something our return game, especially punts, would benefit from at this point. Also, Paul and Austin actually contribute to the passing game, where as Banks is never present in any offensive sets. I know Banks is fan favorite and it's certainly a tough pill to swallow, but I don't think he deserves a spot on this squad. I mean does anyone see Banks on this team next year? Three years from now? Five years from now? I certainly don't. I keep thinking that one week there is going to be a game with numerous injuries (like the Tennessee game last year), and we are going to be sorry that Banks is taking up a spot. With all this being said, I'm sure Banks will score at some point this year and I'll get plenty of grief for my vantage point on Banks, but I still think the risk outweighs the reward.