Monday, January 3, 2011

What did the Shanahans learn about Rex Grossman?

In his three starts this season, coming in an apparent audition for either the starting job next season or a long-term backup role -- depending on what the Redskins brain trust collectively decides to do in the offseason -- Rex Grossman performed reasonably well. Sure, everything is not about numbers, and the Redskins won just one of his three starts, but here are his stats anyway:

Week 15 at Cowboys: 25-43, 322 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT, 1 fumble lost, 93.4 QB rating
Week 16 at Jaguars: 19-39, 182 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 0 fumbles lost, 60.0 QB rating
Week 17 vs. Giants: 26-44, 336 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 2 fumbles lost, 88.8 QB rating

Total: 840 yards, 7 TD, 4 INT, 81.4 QB rating, 55.6 completion percentage, 3 fumbles lost

It's worth noting that Grossman did not face an elite defense in his three starts. In terms of points allowed per game, Grossman faced the 17th-ranked Giants (21.7), 27th-ranked Jaguars (26.2), and 31st-ranked Cowboys (27.3) -- not exactly a Murderers' Row of defenses. Considering how often he turned the ball over against those defenses, that doesn't bode well for Grossman if/when he faces better defenses in the future.

In Week 8 against the Lions when Grossman filled in for Donovan McNabb in the fourth quarter, Grossman, which I'm sure most fans remember well, was immediately sacked and lost a fumble -- which was returned for a touchdown -- putting the game away for good. The fumble wasn't necessarily his fault -- there was very little blocking on the play -- but it happened. Still, I didn't include that fumble in the numbers above and focused on his three starts.

Grossman's three-week performance indicates a few things: 1) He can, when given time, put up some points in this offense; 2) His completion percentage is a little low for an offense in which he's seemingly familiar with; and 3) He will turn the ball over. Turning the ball over seven times in three games is inexcusable, but he did also throw seven touchdown passes. If the Shanahans are going to go with Grossman as the starting quarterback next season, they're going to get a quarterback who can lead the offense to a few scoring drives, but he'll also make some boneheaded plays and turn the ball over at inopportune times. This is Rex Grossman, after all.

Grossman deserves credit for playing this well after holding a clipboard for most of the season. He faced enormous pressure when he took over for McNabb, and he didn't embarrass himself. His 81.4 QB rating (in his three starts) isn't spectacular or anything, but it still is about four points better than McNabb's (77.1). I, or probably most fans for that matter, didn't think Grossman would play well and would make the Redskins look even worse. Instead, he looked decent at times and certainly played no worse than McNabb did. Whether or not that means he'll get another chance to start next season is another question, and that will depend on what the Redskins do in the draft.

If I had to guess, I'd say that Grossman performed about as well as the Shanahans thought he would, meaning that they may decide to go with him as the starter next season and draft a quarterback for the future. Grossman as the starter for a full season? If that ends up being the plan, the Redskins better surround Grossman with some much-improved talent, or 2011 may end up being disastrous.

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