Under center, front and center
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Since the Washington Redskins last won a division title, way back in 1999, they have used 16 quarterbacks, everyone from Jason Campbell (52 games between 2006-09) to Gibran Hamdan and Todd Husak (a game apiece in 2003 and 2000, respectively). In between, there was the the turmoil of Jeff George, the indifference of Tony Banks, the occasional promise of Patrick Ramsey, one playoff run with Todd Collins and another with Mark Brunell. Only two franchises, Oakland and Chicago, have used more signal-callers over the past dozen seasons.
Donovan McNabb was supposed to resolve that instability. But as the Redskins approach their final two games of the season, beginning Sunday afternoon in Jacksonville, McNabb has been benched and relegated to third string, Rex Grossman has been inserted as the starter, and John Beck has been promoted to backup - with the potential to be the 17th Redskins quarterback since that 1999 NFC East championship.
The upshot of McNabb's benching, though, has less to do with the remainder of the 2010 season than it does with the future. When he benched McNabb on Dec. 17, Coach Mike Shanahan said, quite plainly, that he could not guarantee McNabb would return next season. So the question quickly turned to: Who will be the Redskins' quarterback in 2011?
"I'm going to evaluate everybody," Shanahan said. "I'm going to evaluate the draft. I'm going to evaluate [Grossman and Beck] and come up with the best game plan. It could very well be Donovan. It could very well be him. But I'm just not making that commitment until I see everybody."
So the central issue of the Redskins' upcoming offseason will be just what it has been in so many offseasons gone by. Though the Redskins signed McNabb to an extension Nov. 15, they could cut him at any point before the start of the 2011 season, and it would cost them only $3.5 million. Grossman would have to be re-signed to a new deal. Beck signed a two-year extension early in the season.
But the evaluation won't end there.
"The first thing you do is look at all of the free agents out there and evaluate them and evaluate our own squad," Shanahan said. "Then you go to the college players. . . . There is a lot we need to talk about as a coaching staff, and then we hit in detail the college [players]. You never know."
Shanahan has Sunday's game at Jacksonville and next week's game against the New York Giants to coach before he turns to evaluations. We, however, have some extra time on our hands, and it's never too early to try to figure out who might be the Washington Redskins' starting quarterback.
Current team: Washington Redskins.
Height: 6 feet 2. Weight: 229.