For the most part, Randle El has been a terrible punt returner this season. He almost never breaks a decent return -- his longest return is just 15 yards -- and he's also fumbled the ball away twice, which is obviously a big no-no on special teams.
In Washington's 34-13 win over Oakland on Sunday, Randle El had two punt return opportunites, and he fumbled on the second attempt in the fourth quarter. His fumble this week didn't hurt since the Redskins were comfortably ahead (oddly enough), but the fumble earlier in the season in the team's first game against the Eagles did hurt, as it led to an Eagles field goal.
It wasn't surprising to see Randle El in the second time against the Raiders, just because of the fact that, for some reason, he hasn't officially been replaced as the main returner. Here's Jim Zorn explaining the situation in his usual stumbling and bumbling -- but honest -- approach:
"I told Danny [Smith] I want Antwaan in there, because of the sure catch. And he just misjudged it. It hit him right up underneath the upper part of the shoulder pad, and he was taking off at the same time he was catching it....
"There was no [disagreement], I just said Hey, I want to make sure I've got Antwaan in here, and that decision obviously failed at that point. But we're gonna make some adjustments and things like that. It doesn't mean that Antwaan is gonna be totally sitting on the bench the whole time, but we're gonna try to get other guys involved. Truly, we just haven't had [options] besides Santana [Moss], with DeAngelo [Hall] going down. That was the guy we were trying to gear up.
"We're a little bit in a situation that we're gonna try to get Devin [Thomas] more involved now, Santana will be more involved, we'll see what happens as we go along with DeAngelo, just try to get him back there as well. That'll just be another guy in the mix. [Justin Tryon] hasn't shown yet that I would trust him and go Yeah, let's get him in right now. He hasn't worked at it from that standpoint of decision making, sure catching. Now, he should be working at it, which he is, but we haven't felt the comfort level.
"As a coach, you've just got to have the comfort level. That's why I had Antwaan in there. You know, I had a comfort level, and it proved to be a little of a backfire, but that doesn't' mean he's not gonna catch the next 10 in a row. It's just at that particular moment, it was a bad deal."
Again, the main problem isn't that Randle El fumbled; no one could really see that coming. The problem is that Randle El is still returning punts in the first place. It doesn't matter if the Redskins rotate punt return duties or give someone the full-time job -- Randle El should not be returning punts ever again.