The Redskins might have switched gears in the preseason, dropping expected starter John Beck and going with surprise pick Rex Grossman in what was perceived outside of Redskins Park as more of a condemnation of Beck and less of a coronation of Grossman. But the Redskins' coaches knew one thing when they chose Grossman: He thought like they did. It played out in a pedal-down offensive showing in the 28-14 win over the Giants on Sunday.
The PFW Spin
Such an underrated element of winning and successful offensive football is having the head coach and quarterback in lockstep regarding philosophy. When the two are not on the same page, it often can lead to discord; talent is not nearly the only barometer for success. Witness Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe. In 2001, Bledsoe clearly was the more talented QB on the Patriots, but Bill Belichick and he never shared the same offensive concepts. Brady bought into what Belichick was preaching, and even after Bledsoe returned from a sheared blood vessel, Brady kept the starting job.
Now, we're a long way from Brady and Belichick with what the Redskins currently here, but it's important to note that Mike Shanahan has had talented quarterbacks who have not done especially well under his watch because of their ideological disconnect. But right now, there appears to be a nice symmetry in thought between Grossman and the Shanahans, Mike and Kyle.
Everyone remembers that clearly was not the case last season with Donovan McNabb. The coaches might have blamed their benching of McNabb on the now-infamous "cardiovascular endurance," but thatt had nothing to do with it. They did not believe McNabb could get in line with their philosophies and fully embrace their concepts.
Grossman can. And he did Sunday, pushing the envelope offensively on several scoring drives. How aggressive were they? Past Redskins outfits might have gotten conservative, especially as the game got late with a 21-14 lead. But the 'Skins called for pass plays on six of the 10 plays, with Grossman completing five of those throws on the 10-play, 70-yard drive. He worked in the shotgun five plays that drive (including plays eliminated by penalty) and worked the edges of the Giants' defense to perfection. It led to a two-TD lead and the game-clinching score.
"Rex played an excellent game," Mike Shanahan said. "It's hard to get big plays in the passing game against a defensive front that puts a lot of pressure on the quarterback."
Granted, the Giants were down two top pass rushers in Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora and yet still collected four sacks. They also were playing a sixth-round pick at middle linebacker, Greg Jones, who hadn't practiced with the first team until last week. And yet they also seldom blitzed despite having good success when doing so.
But Grossman shined on the team's three offensive scoring drives (they had one defensive score). He threw with confidence and made quick reads. The offensive line was leaky much of the day, but Grossman found mismatches with Santana Moss and TE Fred Davis (105 yards receiving), covered by slower linebackers, and moved the ball consistently. There also were 3-4 drops by Redskins receivers that might have boosted Grossman's stats even more.
Right now, Grossman and the Shanahans are a successful group because they are thinking alike: throw and attack. They have nothing to lose. We'll see if it continues, but the early results were good.