Banks remains the starter

Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer hasn't altered his strategy for the next two games. Even if Washington (6-8) has no chance of making the playoffs. And that means Tony Banks likely will continue at quarterback, leaving rookie Sage Rosenfels on the bench.

''Every decision we make is about winning football games,'' Schottenheimer said. ''We're not in a mode of trying to play young players just to develop them. That's what you do during the offseason and in training camp and in the preseason.''

Which is why Schottenheimer won't play Rosenfels simply to give him game experience. Besides, Schottenheimer said he wants to see how Banks handles the next two games. He wants to see how Banks deals with adversity and with having nothing to play for. At least, besides his job that is.

Schottenheimer did say he had not made a decision on his starting quarterback for Sunday's game at New Orleans. But, he said, the ''probability'' is that Banks will start ahead of Kent Graham--whom Schottenheimer likes because of his leadership ability. Rosenfels, Schottenheimer said, ''isn't in the mix.''

Banks completed 23 of 43 passes for 236 yards Sunday. For the season, he's completed 53.3 percent of his throws with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also has a 72.5 quarterback rating.

''I'd like to see how Tony performs,'' Schottenheimer said. ''Anything we can do that gives him an opportunity to play gives us a better opportunity to evaluate him.''

One area Banks, and the Redskins, must improve in is the red zone. In the past two games Banks has completed one of 11 passes for nine yards--he's also been intercepted twice. It's not just him. During that same span, running back Stephen Davis has rushed eight times for 15 yards with five runs of one yard or less.

It's not a situation Schottenheimer is used to, having made the playoffs in 11 of his first 14 seasons as a coach. But he does know what he wants to do: win. Look at Pittsburgh to see if a strong finish can build momentum for the following season. And Baltimore did it the year before.

''Any time you win it helps your program,'' Schottenheimer said. ''What happens is there are certain things that are being done well and confidence comes from playing well.''

John Keim has covered the Redskins for The Journal Newspapers for eight seasons and is a correspondent for Pro Football Weekly.

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