Left unsaid around Redskins Park for much of the past month is that there are stark differences between Grossman and Beck. While some were on display in last weekend’s loss at Miami, where Grossman regained his starting job but failed to lead the team to a touchdown, teammates hope they’re more evident against the Dallas Cowboys Sundays, when the Redskins try to end their five-game losing streak.
While Beck struggled in his three starts, coaches and players hope Grossman’s experience and confidence will help spark an offense that has scored just one touchdown in the past three games. Despite his high interception rate, players say Grossman isn’t hesitant to take shots downfield, something Beck didn’t seem willing to do during his stint as starter.
“He knows sometimes you’ve got to make those throws, you can’t be worried about losing a job,” tight end Fred Davis said when asked about the differences between Grossman and Beck. “You just have to go out there and play, do your best . . . you give it your best effort, you’ll see what happens, and the guys around you will make plays for you.”
Following Beck’s final start, Nov. 6 against San Francisco, some players expressed frustration that the quarterback didn’t look their way downfield. Grossman has shown the ability to involve a variety of wide receivers and tight ends in the offense. Beck, meanwhile, targeted running back Roy Helu 16 times against the 49ers. He aimed at his top wide receiver, Jabar Gaffney, only five times that game.
The differences between the two quarterbacks were evident early against the Dolphins. By the end of the first quarter, Grossman had completed a 17-yard pass to Leonard Hankerson and a 20-yarder to Gaffney. The previous week, Beck had no completions downfield, and his longest completion of the day was a deflected short pass that happened to land in his running back’s arms.
“He finds people down the field,” left tackle Trent Williams said of Grossman. “He moves the ball. When Rex is in there, the ball is moving down the field. We have our nicks in the red zone where we step on our own foot; other than that, he does a great job.”
Against Miami, Grossman had seven completions of 16 yards or more, including four that topped 18. In Beck’s starts against San Francisco and Buffalo, he totaled six completions for 16 yards or more, and only three for at least 18.
In his nine starts in a Redskins jersey, Grossman has shown that he takes more chances downfield. His return to the huddle could mean the game plan against the Cowboys includes more deep routes for receivers.
“I guess the law of averages are, the more chances you take downfield, the more you’re going to get big plays,” said wide receiver Anthony Armstrong, who has only one catch since Week 2. The longest of Armstrong’s five catches this season is a 15-yarder. A year ago, Armstrong averaged 19.8 yards per reception and had seven catches of at least 45 yards.