Asked of his opinion of Rex Grossman’s play this season and his chances of returning to the Washington Redskins next season, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was noncommittal on the future while also praising and criticizing the quarterback.
Shanahan — who endorsed the 2010 signing of Grossman, who had played for him in Houston, and then did the same when Washington re-signed the quarterback this past offseason — said his focus remains on this season. The evaluation of Grossman, who this season has thrown 13 touchdowns and 18 interceptions while fumbling four times, will come after the season, Shanahan said.
“It’s something that until we get to the offseason, that I don’t think about at all,” said Shanahan, whose team has averaged 20.1 points per game while going 5-6 with Grossman as starter. “I’m such a live-in-the-now as a coach. You’re just trying to get to Sunday and give us a chance to win. We’ll look back, we’ll break it all up.”
Shanahan did offer a Cliff Notes version of his opinion of Grossman’s play this season.
“One thing I know, Rex has done a decent job. He has too many turnovers. That’s not acceptable,” Shanahan said. “I know not all of them are him. I think you can help around him better; I can do more to help him not have so many picks. But, he definitely needs to get that down. But Rex has definitely done some real good things the past two weeks.”
Grossman opened last Sunday’s game against the Giants with an interception on a flea-flicker, and shortly after threw another pick. He managed to overcome both to lead his team to a 23-10 victory. Shanahan said the first interception didn’t bother him much. But the second did, however.
“It all comes down to, did they score after it? Our defense held them to three-and-out right after, so it wasn’t a big deal as long as it doesn’t affect the psyche of your quarterback, and you guys can see that it doesn’t with Rex,” Shanahan said. “So I didn’t really have a problem with the first one. It’s hard to gauge how far down the field the guy was. Santana had his guy beat and Rex threw it about 60 yards, and needed to throw it 80. I’m the only guy that can throw it 80, so he couldn’t get there. But we took a shot and the defense stepped up.”
Offering his take on the second interception, Shanahan said: “The next one was a bad decision. We tried to high-low the safety. The safety was very deep, someone was in Rex’s face, he didn’t want to miss on a touchdown throw, so he let it go, and it was the wrong decision. Those are the one’s he’s got to be pickier on, not always go there and take the underneath route, which is still a 30-yard gain when you’re high-lowing the defense.”
Coach Mike Shanahan has said that the Redskins’ offensive struggles can’t be blamed entirely on the quarterback position, and that the team must continue to surround the passer — whoever it is — with more weapons and a quality line.
Both Shanahans have previously said a lack of talent, protection or strong communication has to been to blame for some of Grossman’s 18 interceptions this season. And on Thursday, the offensive coordinator echoed those sentiments, but he also stressed the need for Grossman — who had always struggled to eliminate turnovers during his nine-year NFL career — to make better decisions.
“Rex hasn’t made all the great decisions, but a lot of those picks haven’t been his fault,” Kyle Shanahan said. “Now, I’m not giving him an excuse. He’s got to play better than that, but when you’re not playing great around him and when he’s not always at the top of the game, I think Rex can cut down on those turnovers. Even though you’re saying he should have now by his ninth year, I think Rex could get better with some better spots around him. I think he can get better. I still think he can make better decisions and I’m not just going to say, ‘Hey, no matter what he’s going to always throw picks.’ I do believe he can do better.”