The Redskins have reached a polarizing point in their 2017 season. With virtually no shot at making the playoffs, many fans are calling for them to rest starters who have been playing hurt, so as to not risk further injury which could jeopardize their status for 2018.
Redskins coach Jay Gruden says he will not be taking this course of action, that he’ll only consider shutting down players facing potential season-ending injuries. Many other fans agree with this notion, that playing for pride and an ever-slight shot at the playoffs holds more value than, say, tanking the last four games of the season for better draft position.
It’s a tricky dilemma, one 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier argued tooth and nail. On Tuesday, EB of The Sports Junkies restated his distaste for tanking — in the past he’s called it a “loser’s mentality” — but did say he would embrace as ‘subtle tank.’
EB: I’ll enjoy it a little bit more than a preseason game. Not much more.
Lurch: Do you want them to win or lose? Do you want to improve? You’re not the tank guy?
EB: I’m not a tanking type.
Lurch: So you’d rather them win.
EB: If I was to tank, the way I would do it would be a subtle tank, and it would be, if someone’s borderline, I would rest him. But when you’re out there to play, you’ve got to play to win.
Lurch: Well, there’s a bunch of borderline guys.
EB: Right. The problem is that Jay, and this is a lead story, says if they’re good enough to go, they need to go. We obviously don’t want to hurt anybody’s future if it’s a chance to injure themselves long term, but if it’s just a nagging ankle sprain or something like that where they can just play through it, then they’re gonna play through it. Now, a couple exceptions are the big guys: Trent Williams, tight end Jordan Reed.
Lurch: Reed should just be shut down. What’s the point?
EB: That’s what I think. And even Trent, too, because Trent’s gonna have to have offseason knee surgery. Why delay something like that where you’re gonna need plenty of rehab time?
Cakes: Right. Just get him under the knife now.
There is a valid counter-argument to playing to win as many games as possible which reaches beyond simply losing for better draft position. The Redskins have a rare in-season opportunity to test their depth by starting younger players in place of proven veterans.
Lurch: I would play the [Jeremy] Sprinkle kid. Just play him more. See what you got.
EB: But Trent says he wants to play the final four games if he can, and Jay says, if he’s good enough to finish the season, he will finish out the season.
EB: But by and large, this whole mass just-assign-everybody-to-the-IR, which I thought they might do, or at least shut ’em down for these last four games; so far, it doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen.
JP: Well, I think with Trent, when he is going to have surgery — if he chooses to have surgery — he’ll be back with plenty of time. So, yes, it would be helpful to do it maybe a month earlier, but it’s really not going to matter in terms of being ready for next season.
EB: It kind of does, because the more time you get away from surgery, the better you’re gonna feel. You’re gonna play better.
JP: I don’t disagree with you there, but he’ll be ready if he has surgery in January or even February. I think from what I’ve heard, the surgery that he would require, if he chooses to have it, he’d be back by regular season or training camp.
EB: These last four games are going to be marginally more interesting than preseason games. It’s a shame, but that’s where we’re at.
There’s one other possibility to consider. While Gruden is saying he won’t rest borderline players now, his position could quickly change if the Redskins lose to the Chargers Sunday, which would mathematically eliminate the Redskins from playoff contention.