Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said that Rex Grossman will remain the starting quarterback as the team prepares to host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
Grossman, who started the first five games of the season but was benched after throwing four interceptions in the fifth game against the Philadelphia Eagles reclaimed the starting job Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.
John Beck had done well in the fourth quarter of the game in which he relieved Grossman, and then had a decent outing the following week – his first start since December of 2007. But Beck struggled in the next two games, directing an offense that mustered only 11 points total. And Shanahan said Monday he believed Grossman, a ninth-year veteran, gave the team the best chance to win despite the fact that he has thrown 11 interceptions and six touchdown passes in six games this season.
“Rex is going to be our quarterback,” Shanahan said. “When you go with a veteran quarterback, it’s pretty easy, and usually that situation stays pretty much the same. … I was impressed with the way he played [against Miami], the way he handled himself. We had only nine points, but nine points goes to a collective group. But I thought Rex played well.”
Grossman completed 21 of 32 passes for 215 yards Sunday, was sacked three times, threw two interceptions and failed to produce a touchdown. One of the interceptions came when rookie wide receiver Leonard Hankerson slipped on a pass route. The second, however, came with Washington facing first-and-goal from the 10 with Washington down 13-9 and 12:06 left in the game.
After the loss, although frustrated by another defeat, offensive players believed that Grossman had put them in a better position to win despite the interceptions. And Shanahan said he believes players feed off the veteran’s confidence.
“If you look at somebody’s play, you can tell he’s confident,” the coach said. “He’s been under the gun more than John has. … Rex has a lot more playing time and he played with a lot of confidence and made a bunch of good throws during the game.”
Shanahan said he still believes that Beck, who this season has completed 80 passes for 132 a ttempts for 858 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions, is a talented quarterback. But limited time in the offense thanks to the NFL lockout, coupled with a reduced arsenal of offensive weapons, kept the former BYU star from playing well, the coach said.
“I thought John did an excellent job when he first came in, in that fourth quarter [in Week 7] when we had lost [tight end Chris] Cooley, and we lost [left guard] Kory Lichtensteiger and we lost [left tackle] Trent Williams,” Shanahan said. “In that fourth quarter he did exceptional. Then the next week against Carolina when we lost Santana Moss and Tim Hightower, we had two big drives with those guys out in the third and the fourth quarter. He didn’t play as well against Buffalo and [San Francisco] with those guys being out.
“ Then with Jammal being [Brown] out and Niles Paul being out as our [slot receiver] – I wasn’t really sure if they were going to be out – but I was going to give both guys reps during the week, No. 1 to see where our injury situation was and how he practiced and both quarterbacks practiced and then make the decision of what was in the best interest of the team. You take into consideration all those things when you’re head football coach, especially when you’ve got five or six guys out, guys switching positions, especially not playing well for a few games, you have to go with your gut on what you think gives you the best chance to win.”