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Grossman impresses but still not Redskins' savior

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Recent posts by Eric Edholm

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Posted Dec. 20, 2010 @ 3:06 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

Mike Shanahan took a lot of heat for how he handled the benching of QB Donovan McNabb last week, indicating that backup Rex Grossman would be the best option for the Redskins in the final three games. Onlookers believed that the move was more a statement about McNabb and his standing with the team than it was an endorsement for Grossman, who hadn't started a game since 2008 and is on his third team in three seasons. But Grossman played well in the loss to the Cowboys after a slow start, throwing for 322 yards and four TDs.

The PFW Spin

For one Sunday, Grossman looked like a very potent NFL quarterback. Mistake-prone, yes, but potent, too. He engineered a comeback from a 13-0 deficit, having not crossed midfield at that point, and made several big throws to help tie the game at 30-30. Grossman threw a bad interception early, a classic Grossman pick, and ended the game with an INT, although he was making the right read on the throw. In between, there were five sacks taken and a fumble lost. But there also were some excellent reads and throws, good footwork and also good placement of his throws, which allowed his receivers to make plays after the catch.

Those latter two points were things that Shanahan didn't see enough of in McNabb. When the coach said he knew what he had in McNabb and was going in a different direction, these qualities played a big part. Shanahan believed that McNabb didn't make enough consistent and "easy" plays within the offense, and many of those failures were the result of poor mechanics, which might have been the result of so-so conditioning, at least in the coaches' minds (we're including Kyle Shanahan in this, because he never much has cared for McNabb since they joined forces).

But don't think that Grossman is any kind of long-term answer. Another strong performance or two in the final two games could ensure that Grossman returns in 2011, but he in no way will be guaranteed a starting job. If there's any doubt about this, just know that Grossman could even lose his spot this season at the first sign of trouble. That's because Mike Shanahan seems oddly enamored with John Beck, who flamed out in Miami and was traded from the Ravens for little in return. Shanahan has mentioned Beck several times, quite strategically, and the former BYU passer could get some quality reps in the final eight quarters of the season.

It's obvious, though, that the Redskins want to clear the decks to some degree at the position and will look hard at a number of college quarterbacks in April. Underclassmen Ryan Mallett, Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert would be QBs the Redskins might consider in the No. 10-14 range in Round One, but none of those players have declared yet. Further, it would be a stretch to think that any of the three could be ready to play from Day One as rookies.

If Grossman or Beck starts at any point next season, it will be as a placeholder for the future. Grossman has shown he can have big games before, as well as big flops; he's not any kind of long-term answer. Beck has produced only poor outings since coming to the NFL. The future at QB in D.C. lies elsewhere.

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