A day after Rex Grossman described his confidence as “at an all-time high,” Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan cast further uncertainty on the veteran-yet-turnover-prone quarterback’s future role with the team.
Shanahan, who last week said that Grossman needs to eliminate his turnovers, on Thursday praised the quarterback’s aggressive nature. But at the same time, Shanahan said he would have no problem going with a quarterback that has no experience in his system next season. The offensive coordinator also acknowledged that the Redskins remain in need of a franchise quarterback.
“No, not at all. You don’t need a guy that’s experienced with your system,” said Shanahan, who is in his second season with the struggling Redskins after directing the Houston Texans to the ranks of the league’s offensive leaders in 2008 and 2009. “When [Matt] Schaub came into Houston in his first year, he played at a very high level. I don’t think it’s a system that takes a long time to learn. You can get better at it, but everyone in the league runs similar plays. You’re going to run what they’re good at and the better they are, the more you keep doing it.”
When asked what kind of quarterback he would prefer to have in his system, Shanahan — whose offense ranks 16th in the NFL, averaging 334.0 yards a game, but has mustered only 18.5 points (26th) while turning the ball over 34 times (fourth-most) — said, “My preference is a quarterback that is going to try to win the game and is smart enough to do that the right way.”
Shanahan did say that Grossman is capable of playing the position the “right way,” and capable of making game-winning plays.
“He’s a smart guy,” Shanahan said. “I think you can calm him down a little and make him feel like, ‘Hey, you don’t have to try to make all these plays to win the game. We’re in the game. We’ve got a lead. We can run the ball. We can do this. We can do that.’ Then, you don’t have to do as many risky decisions that he has done in the past.”
But at the same time, he acknowledged that the Redskins remain in search of a legitimate franchise quarterback.
“Everybody’s looking for a franchise quarterback,” Shanahan said. “You want one of those guys that there’s no question about. There’s probably only about five or six of them in the league. Then, there’s a lot of guys who can play and a lot of guys who need to be replaced. You’re always trying to find that one and [we’re] still looking to do it.”
Once the offseason gets underway, Redskins management and coaches will begin evaluating the quarterbacks coming out of college. They’ll dissect their games, their mental makeups, and try to come to the best conclusion over which passers have the best chance for ultimate success in the NFL.
“When you evaluate quarterbacks, you look at ‘Are they comparable of winning in the NFL? Do you think that guy has what it takes to take you to the playoffs? Does he have what it takes to get you to the Super Bowl?’” Shanahan explained. “There is no specific, ‘Hey, I only want someone who only can do what we can do.’ I want someone who can win and help a team and move the ball.
“There’s lots of different ways to do it, lots of people do that in college and it doesn’t transfer over to the NFL. What you do as a coach is you try to evaluate what are guys’ skills. What makes them successful in college? Do you think they’ll be able to do that in the NFL? And if they can do that in the NFL on a consistent basis, not to where is just wins them a couple of games, but you actually feel they can take you to the playoffs, be able to do what they need to do on third down in the playoffs against a good defense. Those are the type of guys you want. You can adjust to anybody. But you want to make sure it’s the type of formula that wins.”