On the biggest night of his rejuvenated career, when he most needed a good performance, Grossman brought Bad Rex instead of Good Rex. There’s no sweetening that tea. Grossman is a large part of why the Redskins are 2-1 with a fighting chance in the NFC East, but he bears disproportionate responsibility for a critical loss, too.
The fourth quarter came down to the heart-in-the-throat issue of whether they could survive the uneven play of their two-sided, double-edged quarterback. Could they beat the clock before he turned into Truly Awful Horrible Rex? The answer was no; he committed a catastrophic fumble with 28 seconds left.
To beat the Cowboys, the Redskins needed to put together one more moderately decent drive at any point in the game — just a few more grudging yards, here or there. A team relies heavily on the quarterback to make that happen, to make a play with his arm or his smarts or his legs, instead of a killing mistake. Grossman’s official stats reflect one touchdown pass, with one interception and one fumble, but the raw eyewitness data showed he was lucky not to be intercepted twice more, and he just didn’t scan the field well. The last four possessions of the game resulted in three punts and the fumble.
There were plenty of other culprits, from DeAngelo Hall to Sav Rocca to Jim Haslett. Kyle Shanahan bears significant responsibility for converting just 3 of 12 third downs.
“You want me to go on and on about it?” Grossman said. “I don’t think it is one main thing. Collectively, it’s not letting one play stall your drive.”
But the fact remains that the difference between 3-0 and 2-1 came down to a single game-ending blunder by the quarterback. As Grossman himself said, “We felt like we were moving into good position with 48 seconds left, needed about 25 yards to put us in decent range,” when he fumbled.
From the end of last season to the start of this season, we’ve now had a half-dozen regular-season games to judge Grossman. No question, he’s an upgrade over the paralyzing Donovan McNabb, and he’s not nearly the Train Rex his critics from his days in Chicago claim he is. He’s a better than adequate leader, with good study habits and a fine passing arm, currently the NFL’s 16th-ranked performer at his position.
“I don’t really judge Rex on what he did in Chicago, I judge him on what we ask him to do here and how he practices,” Coach Mike Shanahan said last week. “. . . and Rex has been very consistent since I’ve been here in the way he prepares and the way he works.”