John Beck was the guy that Mike Shanahan gushed over after he passed on a quarterback in the draft, and Beck is the guy that Shanahan has publicly acknowledged as superior athleticism. People within the organization also say that Shanahan believes Beck has the bigger upside of the two quarterbacks.
So why will Shanahan go with Grossman?
The first: Performance.
Once Grossman got into camp, Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan both said that this was a much more open competition than what was believed. And going strictly off of numbers, Grossman wins.
His preseason numbers: 34 for 53 for 407 yards, two touchdowns, an interception and two sacks. Grossman also posted a quarterback rating of 92.3.
Beck’s preseason numbers: 30 for 48 for 356 yards, a touchdown and two interception and four sacks. Beck’s quarterback rating was 74.7.
Another reason: Experience.
Grossman is entering his third season in this offense and started three games for Shanahan last season. Beck has nothing to show for other than classroom study, great work ethic and shared action in three preseason games.
Grossman displayed his comfort in the system throughout the preseason. He was fluid, he got the ball out of his hands quickly, and he has a strong rapport with Santana Moss and Jabar Gaffney. Aside from a stalled drive against Indianapolis and two against Baltimore, Grossman has been able to march the Redskins up and down the field and into scoring position.
Beck played at a good pace against Indianapolis, but has only one touchdown drive to show for. That came with the second team against Baltimore’s reserves. Thursday, he looked hesitant, and not nearly as comfortable out there on the field. Beck admitted that he wasn’t at his best, and that every snap is important for him because he’s still working to gain experience. So Grossman is the guy that is more NFL ready at the time.
Another reason: Limited evaluation time.
Redskins coaches basically had six weeks to look at Beck in their system. Last season he always running the scout team. During those snaps, Shanahan was able to see his ability on display, but he wasn’t running Washington’s plays.
As Kyle Shanahan said last week, not having OTAs and minicamps made evaluating the quarterbacks more challenging.
“We’ve only had three games and John didn’t get to play in one,” the offensive coordinator said at one point.
Later the same interview, he said, “I knew it was going to be tough when we lost OTAs and minicamps. Unless one of them came out and played like we weren’t expecting, then it would’ve been easier. … When you knew you only had three weeks to a month to do it, we knew it was going to go down to the wire.”
It’ll be interesting to hear Mike Shanahan’s explanation, but with he and Kyle Shanahan deciding to go with Grossman, it appears evident that they know what they have in him, and they feel like he can help them win now. Meanwhile, they still like Beck, but don’t feel completely comfortable with him, partially because he hasn’t been able to show them as much and partially because he needs more work.
It was obvious this quarterback competition was “pretty neck-and-neck,” as Kyle Shanahan as been saying. But maybe Grossman as the Week 1 choice was pretty clear if you looked really, really closely.
But don’t forget this, just because Grossman will start Week 1, doesn’t mean he’s got the job locked up. As mentioned following Preseason Game 3, it really might not matter who starts for the Redskins, because this quarterback situation is so unstable and so fluid that it could change from week to week. A guy comes out and looks good, he’s the guy for the next week. He has a few bad weeks, look out for the next guy, and back and forth and back and forth.
Stay tuned . . .