Washington Redskins players said all the right things, at least publicly, after Coach Mike Shanahan’s decision to go with John Beck as the starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers.
When Shanahan addressed the team Wednesday morning, he told players that his goal, as always, is to put the team in the best possible position to win, and that he believed Beck gives them that chance. Beck, who prior to Sunday hadn’t played in a regular season game since 2007, replaces Rex Grossman, who on Sunday was benched after he threw four interceptions in three quarters against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“We’re going to roll with Beck,” said receiver Jabar Gaffney, who on Monday publicly lobbied for Shanahan to give Grossman another chance. “We’ll do what we can with [Beck], and hopefully he’ll be ready to go on Sunday. [I’m] surprised, and not. We knew that something would happen. Coach made the call and we’re going to roll with it.
“It’s disappointing,” added Gaffney, who played college ball with Grossman at Florida. “You want to keep everyone you had going, but coach felt like he needed to shake things up, and hopefully Beck can come in there and give us a spark.”
Gaffney -- who on the season has 19 catches for 293 yards and a touchdown -- caught balls from Beck in the preseason, but in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the two appeared out of sync. Beck missed an open Gaffney twice. The receiver said the two need to work on their timing, but believe that they can quickly get in tune with one another.
“We have a couple days to get on the same page with him,” Gaffney said. “We have to take today and tomorrow and Friday real seriously, and hopefully that timing will come quickly.”
Tight end Fred Davis said Beck, who has spent the first five weeks of the season throwing primarily to backups while running the scout team, does have a good feel for the offense, however, and that the Redskins will take Shanahan’s decision in stride.
“It’s just one of those situations you’re put in that you have to go with it and run with it, go out in practice and make the best of it,” said Davis, who had been one of Grossman’s favorite targets, recording 22 catches for a team-high 343 yards and a touchdown. “I guess I was surprised, but I guess, when you think about four picks, that’s a lot. So you never know with those situations. [Shanahan] feels like that’s the best decision to help us win at the moment, so that’s what it’s going to be.”
Running back Tim Hightower said he empathized with Grossman. But he added that he believes that by making the switch only six weeks into the season and with the Redskins still owning a winning record (3-2), Shanahan has put his players on notice that winning expectations must be met.
“We knew coming into the season that we had two good quarterbacks. I don’t think it’ll surprise anybody,” Hightower said. “It definitely sends a message that they want to win here. That’s why you play this game, but with that comes a standard that’s set. When you make a quarterback change like that, a standard is set and I think it sends a very loud message to the rest of the guys on offense that, ‘Hey, get your stuff together, we need guys to make plays and it’s not later, it’s now.’”