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Shanahan reaches into past to form new backfield

Mike Shanahan AP

Mike Shanahan was known in Denver for cranking out productive running games out of spare parts, like a coaching MacGyver.   The approach didn’t seem to travel with him to Washington last year.

So instead of relying on a broken-down veteran like Clinton Portis, Shanahan is starting anew with a couple of sleeper prospects.  He used a fourth-round pick on Roy Helu  from Nebraska and a sixth-round pick on Evan Royster from Penn State.

Then Shanahan started to compare them to former Pro Bowlers.

“Coach Shanahan, he said to me when they drafted me that I remind him of Terrell Davis,” Royster said via Mike Jones of the Washington Post.

Helu was one of our favorite sleepers heading into the draft, and could be the best bet in a wide open competition to start with Royster and “veteran” Ryan Torain.

“With Helu we have something we haven’t had: speed, and he has great hands,” Shanahan said.  Then Shanny compared Hulu to Portis as a young player.  “I look at Helu as having that type of ability, that type of speed.”

We’re not crazy enough to believe The John Beck Experiment could work, but we are crazy enough to believe Shanahan can get his MaGyver mojo back putting together a young, unheralded backfield.

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33 Responses to “Shanahan reaches into past to form new backfield”
  1. mataug says: May 1, 2011 3:48 PM

    oh yeah who’s gonna open up the holes for these running backs ?

  2. ajc85 says: May 1, 2011 3:54 PM

    “Then Shanny compared Hulu to Portis as a young player”….

    Hulu is pretty fast on my home internet b/c i get like 12mbps download speed. It is a great pick for me since i cut cable.

  3. RussianBreadMaker says: May 1, 2011 4:02 PM

    Helu was a beast at Nebraska, too bad he isn’t going to have a good line blocking for him.

  4. garkeith says: May 1, 2011 4:03 PM

    Redskins have nothing left, I think they could be the worst team in the league….if they play games this year.

  5. nflconspiracytheoristdeluxe says: May 1, 2011 4:04 PM

    Could be a win-win for Shanahan & Co. If he succeeds using no-name talent, he’ll be the talk of the town. If he fails miserably, then just consider him Luck-y.

  6. terrellochouno says: May 1, 2011 4:17 PM

    Helu, to me, is in the Pierre Thomas mold. He’s got unusual speed for his size & he’s strong as hell. If he can learn how to break a tackle every now & then, he’ll be near elite RB status. This was a steal, if you ask me.

  7. claydefayette says: May 1, 2011 4:25 PM

    If Shanahan wanted the best value at running back, he should have picked Kendall Hunter.

  8. weneedlinemen42 says: May 1, 2011 4:27 PM

    All Shanahan has said about Beck, is that he thought Beck was the best QB prospect in his draft, and that he has confidence in him. Look how bad that QB-class was, it’s headed by JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn. Shanahan might actually be right and it would still be back handed complement.

    The other critical thing Shanahan has actually said about his QB situation is that he is working to a plan and that he has no intention of telling anyone what that is.

    This is what he has actually said: ““We’ve got a lot of different directions we could go, I can’t share our whole gameplan with you now for obvious reasons, but we do have a plan.”

    Now if you can point out to me the bit where he says John Beck will be starting I’d be much obliged. Come on PFT, find an actual Shanahan quote to support the contention that the Redskins are planning to start Beck.

  9. grandpoopah says: May 1, 2011 4:29 PM

    Right, and John Beck reminds him of John Elway. The Skins will be lucky to win 4 games this season and they’ll be looking for Shanny’s replacement by 2013 at the latest.

  10. weneedlinemen42 says: May 1, 2011 4:32 PM

    Helu looks faster than any RB we’ve had since Portis’s first season. He doesn’t look like he has a lot of wiggle, but he does have good burst and I think will be suited to Shanahan’s one cut philosophy.

    Evan Royster doesn’t look like Terrell Davis but he does use his blockers well. Then again no one new Terrell Davis was going to look like TD on the next level. One can always hope.

    I’m looking forward to the pre-season, with a bit of luck one of these guys will make the sort of hit that got Davis noticed.

  11. smellmyface says: May 1, 2011 4:33 PM

    @mataug

    Hmm what about free agency? The redskins have so many holes. Should they have just drafted all lineman with hopes that one would work out? I would think Shanahan knows a litle more about football than you.

  12. dawsonleery says: May 1, 2011 4:45 PM

    I don’t like Shanahan and Redskins. Just doesn’t seem like a good fit. Skins can’t seem to figure out what they wanna be.

  13. tednancy says: May 1, 2011 4:46 PM

    What a dumb, misleading headline. You just gave your audience another reason to doubt your credibility.

    Just tell it like it is; live bait always works best.

  14. broncobourque says: May 1, 2011 4:47 PM

    Both RBs seem like they will do well in the Shanahan 1 cut zone blocking system and nobody should doubt his ability to find 1000 yard rushers given his history. The problem is that neither of those guys will help on defense which is where Shanahan has had his problems.

  15. jo3jo says: May 1, 2011 5:04 PM

    Ryan Torain actually was fairly effective late last year after Portis was taken out of the mix, I’m not sure I would feel the need to go a new direction to the point that I would have used two draft picks. They have bigger holes than at RB. Torain would be that much better if the Skins had a passing game, making the run a bit more of a suprise, which is where the Redskins should be focusing during free agency. Honestly if they wanted to upgrade their running game I think they missed that window when they didn’t go after someone like Ingram.

  16. bass1717 says: May 1, 2011 5:07 PM

    Shanahan said Evan Royster reminds him of Terrell Davis???……hahahahahahaha, that might be the most ridiculous statement I have heard in the last decade…..and this is coming from a Penn State fan

  17. bass1717 says: May 1, 2011 5:14 PM

    It’s hard for me to give an opinion on Rey Helu because every highlight ESPN showed of him, he had a hole that a truck could have for through…..they never once showed him breaking a tackle…..i guess tome will tell if he was a steal like many people are saying he is

  18. sf987 says: May 1, 2011 5:22 PM

    Wow, how bad do the Skins look on paper right now? I’m not even a hater but no QB/WR/RB . . .

  19. citizenstrange says: May 1, 2011 5:53 PM

    That illegal and dirty Bronco cut blocking line is what turned running back zeroes to heros for Shanahan.

  20. swervinmervin says: May 1, 2011 6:12 PM

    No O-Line. Those backs in Denver were good because the OL was good. And they all made Shanatan look good.

    No OL in DC means no RBs will look good, thus Shanatan wont look good.

  21. dansnyder says: May 1, 2011 6:15 PM

    With the three draft picks off the top of my head the Redskins WRs are
    Santana Moss(he said he wants to be back)
    Anthony Armstrong(check stats, one of best deep guys all last season)
    Leonard Hankerson(rookie, eventual #1 or #2)
    Malcolm Kelly(can’t get on field cause of injury but huge 6’4 220 with amazing hands, long strider)
    Roydell Williams(no clue why he is still on team!)
    Terrence Austin(speed, very productive in college)
    Brandon Banks(mighty mouse, burner)
    Niles Paul(rookie, good size 6’1 210″)
    Aldrick Robinson(rookie, burner 4.35, eventual slot guy)

    At RB
    Ryan Torain(very physical, decent speed, underrated cutting ability)
    Roy Helu(speed and size, not shifty, one cut guy)
    Evan Royster(not great at anything but good at everything)
    Keiland Williams(great hands, big 3rd down guy)
    James Davis(speed)

    At QB
    Mcnabb(98% will be gone but hes on roster)
    Rex Grossman(played well at end of season, little known fact he has only 34 career starts and has a higher qb rating than kyle orton had after two seasons of starting yet Orton got moved and has had qb rating of 87 and 88 past two years and has almost double the starts of grossman, even campbell has twice as many. What I’m getting at is compared to most first rounds QB’s Rex hasn’t gotten much playing time while guys like Alex Smith and Jason Campbell still keep getting starts because people believe they played for bad coordinators and on bad offenses early in their career. Was the Bears offense during Grossman’s time not terrible? Who did he have to throw to?)
    John Beck(2nd round QB drafted just 4 years ago. Was thrown into the fire rookie season on one of the worst teams this past decade the 1-15 dolphins. Was given four starts and has never seen the field since. Was a very good college QB drafted in the 2nd round and has had almost no playing time. What if Cincy AJ Green were to be put on IR in preseason and Palmer didnt play and Dalton got 4 starts his rookie season and the Bengals went 1-15 and Dalton never saw the field again in his career, wouldn’t that seem silly? Seems silly to think Beck has been given a fair chance to play in this league.

  22. kadavenskd says: May 1, 2011 6:17 PM

    Hey look. Its a given the Skins aren’t gonna be good this year. What the hell is the point of beating up a young QB when there are so many holes yet to fill? We got 12 picks…added some solid players to give the 3-4 a chance, and got 2 RBs and 2 WRs that can contribute. Orakpo and Kerrigan are gonna beat some ass and Hankerson is finally a big target down the field. Coulda used some more bodies on the O-Line, but you can only do so much in one draft. I like it. Another couple drafts like this, and we’ll be solid in a year or two…hopefully with Luck.

  23. skins359 says: May 1, 2011 6:42 PM

    bass1717 says:
    May 1, 2011 5:07 PM
    Shanahan said Evan Royster reminds him of Terrell Davis???……hahahahahahaha, that might be the most ridiculous statement I have heard in the last decade…..and this is coming from a Penn State fan

    10
    ————-
    Maybe you’re right, as the chances of someone duplicating Terrells success are slight. Still the whole thing about Davis is that no one expected him to do much of anything. He was slow and his numbers were that of a number 2 or 3 back coming out (445 yards rushing is senior year and only 824 the year before). So I wouldn’t necessarily discount it.

  24. tatum064 says: May 1, 2011 6:45 PM

    left a lot of talent Baldwin-Wallace defensive end/outside linebacker Keith Darbut, Texas Tech quarterback Taylor Potts, Marshall linebacker Mario Harvey, Auburn center Ryan Pugh, Miami running back Graig Cooper, Syracuse center Ryan Bartholomew, Auburn wide receiver Darvin Adams, Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien, Notre Dame defensive tackle Ian Williams, UConn linebacker Scott Lutrus, North Carolina safety Deunta Williams, North Carolina cornerback Kendric Burney, Rutgers safety Joe Lefeged, Pittsburgh fullback Henry Hynoski, LSU wide receiver Terrance Toliver, Ohio State wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher…Mario Fannin, Auburn…

    Shanahan “master plan” of going 4-12 and getting Andrew Luck in 2012 is working perfectly….unless they plan on FAs

  25. bigmike7914 says: May 1, 2011 6:50 PM

    The crazy part about the Redskins is that their O-line was very productive in the run game people forget that Torain missed about 6 games and started in about 7 and gained over 800 yards so the o-line can block, and with all this talk about o-lines being good the two teams that was in the Super Bowl last season didnt have good o-lines either, it’s about game planning and challenging the other teams weaknesses, the Redskins were in every game they played last season, but the obvious Monday Night massacre given by the Eagles, and the annual beat down at the Meadow Lands.

  26. king3319 says: May 1, 2011 6:56 PM

    What’s bein forgotten is Alex Gibbs. Sure shannahan found some gems in the draft but without the O-line that was guided by Gibbs those backs don’t have near the numbers they had without that line.

  27. ravensfan4life52 says: May 1, 2011 7:10 PM

    oh so you have a fast running back with good hand, oh and now you have some good possession receivers and a fast one to work in the slot, oh but wait you’re still going to get rid of a QB who would fit in perfectly with these new weapons, just because you’re an idiotic stubborn old man.

  28. skins23 says: May 1, 2011 7:27 PM

    To the folks jabbing about the Skins O-line – they’ll be fine; once FA starts they’ll be signing Ryan Harris at RT and Davin Joseph at RG.

  29. mataug says: May 1, 2011 7:55 PM

    @smellmyface, you are right

    Allen & Shanahan’s strategy in this draft was pretty clear: select lot of guys & try the mud slinging experiment… whatever sticks to the wall will work

  30. sf987 says: May 1, 2011 8:03 PM

    Yeah the Skins have guys with POTENTIAL. I’m willing to give Beck the benefit of the doubt given how quickly the Dolphins gave up on him after being thrust into the starting job on one of the worst teams in history. But Moss aside (and maybe Torain) none of their skill guys have shown anything to merit extended confidence

  31. karlpilkington says: May 2, 2011 7:55 AM

    I am a disgruntled life long redskins fan. I absolutley LOVE what the skins did this past weekend. I do not care if only half of these guys pan out. I am just happy to see that the culture has changed and we did not move up to the 2nd pick and take Gabbert like all of the talking heads said we the skins were going to do. It just goes to show they know NOTHING. Can you hear me LaConfora?

  32. blackqbwhiterb says: May 2, 2011 8:04 AM

    I thought (and said it on PFT) that this draft was very deep at D-Line, but the Redskins need a QB and some O-linemen. They passed up the opportunity to improve those areas, and picked D-Linemen with top picks……As usual, Shanahan and Co. did exactly what I told them not to…Don’t they read PFT.com??

  33. geemoney713 says: May 2, 2011 1:15 PM

    @ajc85
    Then Shanny compared Hulu to Portis as a young player”….

    Hulu is pretty fast on my home internet b/c i get like 12mbps download speed. It is a great pick for me since i cut cable.

    ___________________________

    I can’t ‘thumbs up’ this one enough

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