The Redskins weren’t wrong to take a chance that Grossman could change; players remake themselves all the time. There are quarterbacks across the league who capitalized on a change of scenery, used fresh starts to redeem their reputations and changed the arcs of their careers.
What plagues Grossman is an attitude, not some physical limitation or written-in-stone destiny. He’s simply careless with the ball, and that ought to be correctable.
The issue is “maybe a mind-set,” he admits. Take his first interception against Philadelphia, on the opening drive when he looked to Fred Davis but was picked off by Kurt Coleman. The Eagles wound up with the ball on their 3-yard line. You could look at that as a fairly harmless change in field position, which is how Grossman is tempted to think.
“Better than a punt,” Grossman said before acknowledging, “but it didn’t feel like a punt.” It felt like a 14-point swing. The Redskins lost all their energy, the Eagles took the ball the length of the field to go up 7-0, and the first-half slaughter was on.
When Grossman talks, you can hear that he is trying to convince himself to take a different approach but hasn’t quite gotten there yet.
“Maybe the only thing I could do that would encompass all the turnovers, is just have a little more conservative approach to the fact that, one, turnovers are bad, and they’re emotional mistakes that create emotion in the stands, emotion everywhere,” he said. “So they have an odd way of feeling worse for your momentum.”
All NFL quarterbacks struggle with the tricky equations of daring and dumbness, discipline and over-caution. But that’s the sum of the job; Grossman is paid to attain a certain amount of clarity and recognition. If he would ever learn to make just one less horrible play per game — that’s all — he would be a perfectly secure starter. He’s so close to being terrific, which must make it tempting to stay with him.
But the Redskins can’t continue this way; his turnovers waste everyone else’s efforts. They have to give Beck a try. It’s entirely possible Beck won’t work out, and the Redskins will turn to Grossman again. If so, they have to hope that career desperation gives Grossman the recognition he lacks. He can change, or watch his career die.
You can’t fault Grossman for trying hard to make big plays. But trying hard is not the same as doing your best. Great performers recognize mistakes, find out why they’re making them, and fix them. They are relentless self-critics.
Maybe Grossman’s pain and discouragement over the benching will lead to a burst of illumination. We’ll know he’s gotten there when he drops the rationalizing tone, quits talking about how many good things he did, and fully owns up to what he does wrong.