The untold story behind the staggering unemployment in this country is how much of it is caused by that most important and unpredictable of positions: quarterback.
Wednesday morning, Rex Grossman lost his Redskins starting job to John Beck. Tuesday at Maryland, Danny O’Brien was benched yet again for C.J. Brown. It’s also been a rough week for former Redskins quarterbacks Donovan McNabb, benched in favor of someone named Christian Ponder, and Jason Campbell, whose broken collarbone led the Raiders to trade for Carson Palmer. That should effectively end Campbell’s career in Oakland.
Apparently, while aspiring politicians and lobbyists may want to add ‘Washington’ to their resumes, quarterbacks would be better off heading to, say, Cincinnati.
Of course, Grossman, O’Brien, McNabb and even Campbell still have jobs — even though O’Brien’s is unpaid — so I’m kidding about the unemployment rate. But it’s been a tough week for Washington quarterbacks, Maryland quarterbacks, quarterbacks who used to play in Washington, quarterbacks who visited the Washington Monument as kids . . . you get the idea. Is there some kind of curse afoot? Did the earthquake shake loose some ancient bad vibes? (When in doubt, always go for the most logical explanation.)
Of all the quarterback ch-ch-changes, O’Brien’s fall from grace — at least Randy Edsall’s grace — is the most surprising. (I don’t think a lot of people were in doubt that Beck would start Sunday at Carolina, except maybe Grossman.) Less than a year ago, O’Brien was the ACC rookie of the year and his coach, Ralph Friedgen, was the ACC coach of the year. Now the fired Friedgen is nursing his wounds and O’Brien is on the bench.
He’s also under a gag order, because Edsall, in addition to announcing wardrobe changes, also decides which of his players are allowed to talk to reporters. Not surprisingly, O’Brien doesn’t make the list. But according to The Post’s Eric Prisbell, if O’Brien chooses to leave College Park after this season, he has some attractive options. O’Brien, a redshirt sophomore, is expected to graduate in May, and as long as he transfers to a school with a graduate program not offered by Maryland, he’d have two years of eligibility remaining and wouldn’t have to sit out a season. For an unhappy backup college quarterback with NFL aspirations, that’s as good as it gets.
O’Brien’s situation at Maryland in some ways mirrors the Redskins. Edsall and offensive coordinator Gary Crowton installed a spread offense when Edsall took over, and O’Brien struggled with it, just as McNabb struggled with the complex system Mike Shanahan brought to Ashburn. (The difference, of course, is that Shanahan traded for McNabb; Edsall inherited O’Brien.) Brown is familiar with the spread offense and has some serious speed; both Beck and Grossman were more familiar with the Shanahan system than was McNabb.
Apparently the days of tailoring your system to your personnel are over. Maybe that’s why unemployment in this country is so high.