Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Not overreacting to Grossman's solid game

In Week 1 against a wounded Giants defense, Rex Grossman completed 21 of 34 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns. And he did so even though a couple of receivers dropped catchable passes and while under heavy pressure at times (he was sacked four times). Even the most optimistic Grossman supporters likely didn't think he'd play as well as he did.

Still, Grossman did have one unfortunate play: a crucial fumble early in the fourth quarter that led to a field goal attempt by the Giants. Fortunately, Brian Orakpo blocked the kick, and Grossman (aided by an Antrel Rolle unsportsmanlike conduct penalty) marched the offense down the field and put the game away with a four-yard touchdown pass to Jabar Gaffney.

Grossman looked more than competent in the Redskins' first game, and he seemed more than comfortable in a familiar offense. But he was hardly the only unheralded quarterback to have a solid Week 1. Sure, top quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees had fantastic games, but that's expected. Grossman's strong start wasn't, and neither were great performances by:

Ryan Fitzpatrick: 17-25, 208 yards, 4 TD vs. Kansas City
Cam Newton: 24-37, 422 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT vs. Arizona
Chad Henne: 30-49, 416 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT vs. New England

The surprising thing about Fitzpatrick's game is the four touchdowns, but at least he had a decent 2010 season (meaning he'd put up OK numbers before). Henne did not; he threw more interceptions (19) than touchdown passes (15) last season. And Newton wasn't expected to put up those kinds of numbers in his NFL debut, regardless of which defense he was facing.

None of these quarterbacks will play this well all season. That's not exactly a strong statement to make, especially since only one game has been played. But that also doesn't mean that Grossman, or the other three quarterbacks, can't exceed expectations and have better seasons than others predicted. Maybe Fitzpatrick and Henne have improved. Maybe Newton is better than the experts thought. And maybe Grossman really is better in an offense he's been studying and practicing in for a few years now. Or maybe none of these things continues.

But here's what we know: The Redskins offense, led by Grossman, looked pretty good on Sunday. Grossman found open receivers all game long, many of them down the field. If the Redskins get more consistent offensive line play and receivers keep getting open, there's no reason to think that Grossman won't keep finding them. And there's also no reason to believe that he will all of a sudden stop turning the ball over at inopportune times. He can still be effective, just probably not that effective. He is, after all, Rex Grossman, and he'll need a few more games like Sunday's before fans stop saying that.


  1. Matt,

    Here's my take:

    Rex looked solid. Overall the Skins looked good. Yes Giants banged up but they are still tough on the line of scrimmage.
    Here are the negatives I saw:
    #1 Kyle's play calling at times leaves something to be desired. Specifically third and long. Second half we seemed to have quite a few and the Giants were bringing their pass rush. Do we have a screen pass in the playbook? The play that Rex fumbled on. I said here they come Kyle, what are you going to do. He did just what the Giants wanted. Rex, put the ball away, Kyle, mix it up a little.
    #2 Fred Davis had a great game. It looks like he has worked hard. But, saw a couple plays where he took the play off. One cost Rex a third down conversion. Even if you are not the primary receiver, hustle every play. He acted like why did you throw to me.
    #3 Don't like the way we hand off on a running play. Seems like Rex runs about five yards to get the ball to the back. Play takes too long to develop. Direct hand off was used more in the fourth quarter. Again, Kyle mix it up
    #4 Rex did have a solid performance but still a little worried about deep throws. The offense can be designed for his strengths but when it comes time that our guy is open on that deep post not sure he can get the ball there. This is probably minor, just something I saw on one deep throw to Santana.
    OK, that is it for now. Looking for a big game from Hightower this week, playing his old team.


  2. I thought a screen or two would have been a good idea, but the Giants were also able to get pressure on Grossman without having to blitz. The Giants blitzed a few times during the second half -- one was when Grossman fumbled -- but they basically stayed back in zone coverage for most of the game, probably because of their injuries.

    Also, I agree about Grossman: If the line can block for him and keep him in the pocket, he'll be able to hit open receivers. But what if some plays break down? Will he be able to make a few plays? Maybe, maybe not. He'll have to limit his turnovers and be a little smarter with the ball at times. But for a week, I thought he did a pretty solid job.

    I thought a real positive was how some of the young guys played. Ryan Kerrigan made that fantastic interception/TD on defense, and Chris Neild had two sacks. The Redskins don't often get even competent play from rookies, so it's good that young guys are contributing right away.