It is Cutdown Friday. Decisions have been made about who stays and who goes on the 2012 Washington Redskins. I am fearful that we may have seen the last of Santana Moss in Burgundy and Gold and White. You can thank Kirk Cousins for that.
Consider these two points:
- The Redskins will carry three quarterbacks this season. Last season, they only carried two, Rex Grossman and John Beck.
- With the exception of Donovan McNabb and London Fletcher, head coach Mike Shanahan has picked youth and strength over old age and cunning.
It was unusual that the 'Skins only carried two quarterback in 2011. A string of bad decisions led to that. Shanahan did not have a viable candidate to slot into the position anyway.
Cousins had to be a flop for Shanahan to repeat that choice. Cousins played too well to slip past waivers to the practice squad. The year 2012 will be remembered for its remarkable quarterback class.
Seattle named Russell Wilson, Cousins' Big Ten rival, as Seahawks starter. I'm not surprised by that decision after watching both Cousins and Wilson last season. If Cousins were in that spot, he stood an excellent chance to be Seahawks' starter. Cousins and Wilson are just that close in talent.
Cousins will not sneak through waivers to Washington's practice squad. Watch how quick the Jacksonville Jaguars or Baltimore Ravens (Curtis Painter? Are you kidding?) snatch him away if the Redskins try.
Cousins stays, and that means another position is squeezed. On offense, that is unlikely to be at running back or offensive line where injuries are already a concern. The Redskins cannot carry more than six wide receivers no matter how much Shanahan might like to
Santana Moss averaged 12 yards per punt return in the Colts preseason game, seeming to drive a nail in Brandon Banks' coffin. Banks had been struggling through preseason. Moss' performance lit a fire under Banks who played inspired by fear ball against the hapless Buccaneers.
Li'l Brandon's performance looked better on tape than on the stat sheet. He caught one of the three passes to him, but that one catch was a 47-yard play. Banks returned one punt 22 yards to edge Moss' return average of last week.
With 11 receivers on the roster, five must go by 9:00 PM today. The sure keepers are Pierre Garçon, Josh Morgan, Leonard Hankerson, Dezmon Briscoe and a healthy Anthony Armstrong. Rookies Darius Hanks and Lance Lewis should safely clear waivers and make it to the practice squad. Aldrick Robinson might not. Shanahan's and Bruce Allen's assessment of the risk of losing Robinson plays into the decision. Terrence Austin is expendable if Armstrong is healthy enough. That brings us to Moss or Banks.
Shanahan owes no loyalty to Gibbs-Cerrato era players. We've seen that already this week. Moss' record-setting performance cuts no ice here. It's harsh, but it's the circle of life, son. Besides, that performance was back in the golden year of double-aught five, oh so long ago.
Banks' hope rests on whether Shanahan believes he can be a playmaker on both special teams and as a gimmicky receiver á la Devin Hester. Banks is in trouble because he failed last season, rather miserably, to channel Hester.
Shanahan and Danny Smith may believe that Banks showed enough against the talent-challenged Buccaneers reserves to be that guy. But, it's unlikely that the 2012 roster will see both Moss and Banks.
Points? Did you say points?
Offense challenged Washington scored over 30 points in three of their four exhibition games, and they did it with depth players. The strategic flaw in the Snyder-Cerrato-Gibbs Redskins was the "great man" theory of building a winner. Grab a marquee star from somewhere in the chorus line on the roster could make a show. New Yorkers could tell you that Washington ain't no Broadway act.
The 'Skins average of 24.5 points per preseason game suggests they could average 20 points per regular season game. That's another sign that bright days are ahead for the Washington Redskins.