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Redskins Coaching Conundrum: Start Youth or Coach Them Up First?

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A couple days ago on Twitter, Redskins beat writers Grant Paulsen (106.7 THE FAN) and Rich Campbell (Washington Times) had a lengthy, intellectual debate over how Shanahan is using the young guys. A lot of NFL coaches start their rookies immediately and let them learn while they make mistakes, whereas Mike Shanahan prefers to sit them game days until they show in practice they can play. So, which methodology is better?

For Redskins fans like myself, it's hard to watch the revolving door of all these geriatric WRs and RBs come through while Hankerson and Helu re-tie their shoes on the pine. After the jump is their full debate as well as Redskins great, Brian Mitchell's thoughts on the subject. To Rich Campbell's defense, he seemed to be playing more devil's advocate in this debate. Matt Terl also jumped in with a solid comment I agree with.

granthpaulsen

Perry Riley's made 34 tackles in his first 3 #NFL starts. Rocky McIntosh, in his 6th season, has never had that many in a 3-game stretch.

Would've liked to see Riley get chance to start sooner. #Redskins didn't think he was ready. Kind of like Hank & Helu. All responded well.

I've always felt like the #Redskins are bigger on the 'don't want to put too much on his plate' thing than a lot of teams. #PlayYourTalent

With each blown blitz-pickup you allow Helu to learn from, comes a run like his hurdling, TD sprint. Gotta let them learn.. #PlayYourTalent

Other teams let guys play: Doug Baldwin wasn't drafted. Had ton of developing to. Has played every game for SEA. He's their No. 1 WR now.

Other teams let kids learn while playing: #Browns drafted Greg Little in 2nd-round and played him immediately. He's their top WR right now.

granthpaulsen
Bad teams aren't the only ones that let kids learn on fly. Torrey Smith struggled with routes, catching ball early. 11g, 9 starts for BAL.

Rich_Campbell
@granthpaulsen Safe to say Lee Evans' injury had something to do with that.

granthpaulsen
@Rich_Campbell I don't know how safe that is to say to be honest. In BAL, good players play. Sure, the injury got him chances quicker.

granthpaulsen
@Rich_Campbell My point is that Redskins would've signed David Anderson or Andre Reed or Kevin Lockett or Chris Doering to replace Evans...

Wolfram99
@granthpaulsen But they started Hankerson AND gave @Niles_Paul extended playing time, I think shanny has done a great job with the rookies

granthpaulsen
@Wolfram99 They started Hankerson midway through the season after injuries at WR.

Rich_Campbell
@granthpaulsen You say PR56 should've played because he's better than Rocky. Shanny would say PR56 is playing better b/c they groomed him in practice.

granthpaulsen
@Rich_Campbell There are a lot more teams Riley would've played on way before he did here than not. WSH's 'ready' is different than most.

Rich_Campbell
@granthpaulsen I agree with you about PR56 but coaches sat him for a reason. You can't say how good/bad he'd have been playing immediately

andesangle
@Rich_Campbell @granthpaulsen Helu didn't start til he learned to block. Shanny is easing in the younguns successfully

Rich_Campbell
@andesangle @granthpaulsen His method seems to work. Could youngsters have excelled sooner? Who knows. We're not at practice or in meetings

granthpaulsen
@Rich_Campbell Saying method works is assuming they couldn't have done it 2 games ago. They suddenly became 'ready.' Don't buy that at all.

Rich_Campbell
@granthpaulsen So, on the flip side, you assume they were ready all along?

matt_terl
@Rich_Campbell @granthpaulsen Seems to me that when a guy has proven that his upside outweighs his liability, he plays. That simple.

Rich_Campbell
Terl, FTW! RT @matt_terl: @granthpaulsen Seems to me that when a guy has proven that his upside outweighs his liability, he plays. Simple.

granthpaulsen
@Rich_Campbell Ha! I'll rest my case in the productivity that follows opps. Oh wait, forgot they just got good enough to produce.

Rich_Campbell
@granthpaulsen Don't forget that 4 games before Hankerson went 7 for 100, he ran the wrong route and John Beck was intercepted

granthpaulsen
@Rich_Campbell Haven't forgotten. Where we disagree: I'd rather him make that mistake and be better for it than stand on sideline watching.

Rich_Campbell
@granthpaulsen Shanahan agrees, apparently. Hank, after all, was in the game. But if he was that unprepared then, how bad was it before?

granthpaulsen
@Rich_Campbell Hankerson was in a game that was out of reach after an injury (Moss). Pressed into duty. Diff. than prepping him to start.

Rich_Campbell
@granthpaulsen So the way they eased Hank into a start was OK but not how they did that with Helu?

granthpaulsen
@Rich_Campbell Not sure what you mean. Hank played out of need that day is the point. Not b/c Shanny wanted him on the field over others.

Rich_Campbell
@granthpaulsen We'll have to sort it out tomorrow, then, during a ride on the Pizza-Go-Round.

------------------------ End of Discussion -------------------------------

Before I throw in my two cents, I asked Brian Mitch what his take was on this:

BMitch: "I feel if my weakness is my lack of experience then let me play. The more I show that I can handle then the more you give me. Coaches have always used the excuse of guy being young or inexperienced, but I believe that the sooner a player starts getting playing time the sooner you know what you have whether good or bad.

I totally agree with Grant. The speed in practice doesn't teach you the speed of the game."

I guess my rebuttal to BMitch is, if the rookie is screwing up in practice, which isn't full speed, should he be starting? I'd like to think the Shanahans are smart enough to realize who gives the Redskins the best chance to win. If that's a WR who can get open between 5-8 yards but has no yards after catch speed, then so be it. With the lack of running game and ailing OLine, perhaps it is best to sit rookies until they are not making mental mistakes that will get the QB killed. At the same time, Terrence Austin's upside was greater than anything Joey Galloway could accomplish last year, so why was Austin on the bench for so long?

Obviously hind-sight is 20-20, which makes this debate near un-winnable. I'm looking forward to the comments.