But the difference between a merely decent team and a dynamic one is not whether a quarterback is adequate; it’s whether he’s elite. John Clayton of ESPN once did an intriguing calculation that showed teams with so-called “elite” quarterbacks beat teams with non-elite performers roughly 80 percent of the time. “Elite” means someone who completes 60 percent of his passes, can throw for 4,000 yards in a season, and has fourth-quarter-comeback ability. The Shanahans are gambling heavily they can transform Grossman into elite.
So is Grossman capable of becoming elite? He already has met two of the criteria: He’s completing 59.6 percent of his passes and averaging 282 yards a game, on pace to exceed 4,000, and he has led a team to a Super Bowl. There is no reason — absolutely none — that Grossman can’t kill off Bad Rex once and for all, and make game-winning plays consistently under pressure.
The Post Sports Live crew pinpoints the main areas of concern for the Redskins heading into Sunday's game at St. Louis.
The Washington Post's Mark Maske, Dan Steinberg, Tarik El-Bashir and Jonathan Forsythe break down the Redskins' loss to the Dallas Cowboys, preview Sunday's game at St. Louis and provide a season outlook for the Capitals.
He can start the transformation today by going on a diet. He needs to lose weight, as he admits — and this is not a trivial point. If Grossman has an inherent limitation, it’s his lack of mobility. He has no business compounding it with a knife and fork if he expects to lead the Redskins to the playoffs.
He said of his final snap against the Cowboys, “I wanted to try to make a play, I thought I could slide and get it to Santana” Moss. But it’s pretty hard to extend a play with your legs carrying 10 extra pounds of fat: Anthony Spencer ran him down from behind like a pigeon. Also, it sends a bad message. He’s the one guy left in the Redskins’ locker room who looks anything other than hungrily lean.
Ball security is another totally fixable weakness. There are plenty of elite quarterbacks who lack mobility and who take sacks, starting with Tom Brady. They don’t fumble the way Grossman does. It’s a matter of technique, and disciplined repetition. It’s not Grossman’s fate to be a fumbler. He has some choice in the matter.
Good Rex gives the Redskins real firepower. With him under center, they are moving the ball between the 20s better than in years. Against Arizona they saw the red zone seven times. But they’ve left at least two un-scored touchdowns on the field in each of their three games.
They could be killing people. Grossman’s imperfections are not graven into his soul or character. The question is not can he fix them, but will he.