Is It Time for Redskins To Bench Rex Grossman for John Beck?

Grossman emblemThe bloom is off the Rex Grossman rose after Washington Redskins games against the Cowboys and Rams. In truth, the bloom was only on the rose for the two opening games of the season when Sexy Rexy played above everyone’s low expectation.

But sniping at Grossman when the Redskins are 3-1 and atop the NFC East is breadth taking by any standard. We already hear calls on sports talk radio calling for the most popular man in town–John Beck

Slow down there, cowboy. Count to 10 and lets figure this out.

Was it so long ago that Washington was the national laughingstock for starting Grossman or worse for thinking of starting Beck at quarterback? That was the perception right up to the opening game kick-off against the New York Giants.

Even with Grossman’s fall-off in performance from Week One to Week Four–you really should have expected that, people–Rex is performing above expectations. Look at Grossman’s stats compared to the preseason betting line on him set by sports book Bodog.com.

CATEGORY BODOG PROJECTION  ACTUAL PERFORMANCE 
2011 Completion % 53.5 58.0
Total Games Started  11.5 tbd
Ave. Yards per Game  210 247.25
Ave. TD Passes per Game  1.2 1.5

Better than expected, especially on yards per game. Back on August 29, RHH projected Washington’s QB productivity for the season to be about 215 yards per game, complete just under 60 percent of their passes while throwing five or six more touchdowns than interceptions. (Five Reasons Why Beck Or Grossman Does Not Matter For The Redskins)

Grossman is doing better than that on yards. He is close on completion percentage. And yes, he must do better than 6:5 on his TD-to-INT ratio. Grossman has to do MUCH better on his old bugaboo TD-to-TO ratio that now stands at 6:7 (5 INTs and 2 Fumbles).

We do not see Beck improving on those stats. I suspect he might not do as well on yards per game, but perhaps better than Grossman on fumbles lost. The Redskins will be the Redskins whoever is under center.

If John Beck is interchangeable with Grossman, who were the alternatives Mike Shanahan passed up for Grossman? Jason Campbell and Donovan McNabb. Who were the quarterbacks the pre-Shanahan Redskins coveted in preference to Campbell? Jay Cutler and Mark Sanchez.

Grossman, at 16th place for passing after four games, is performing better than all but Sanchez and Sanchez is barely better. Here is the Week Four passer ranking from NFL.com:

RANK  PLAYER COMP %  YARDS  TD  INT  QBR  
15 Mark Sanchez  55.1 1,005 6 5 75.9
16 Rex Grossman  58.0 989 6 5 78.7
21 Jay Cutler 54.2 960 5 4 77.8
23 Jason Campbell  65.3 928 4 3 89.1
30 Donovan McNabb  58.6 680 4 2 80.9

All of the quarterbacks that the Redskins had or dreamed about are bunched together. It is hard to see how they would have improved Washington’s prospects if they were here. As they say in Indianapolis these days, Peyton Manning isn’t walking through the door.

More than any other team game, football is a system sport. Quarterbacks do not complete passes. Quarterbacks attempt passes. Quarterbacks and receivers complete passes. Rex Grossman will be a better quarterback when the wide receiver corps catch 60 percent of the passes targeted to them. So far, only Santana Moss measures up. You expect that of ‘Tana.

POSITION  RECEPTIONS  TARGETS  REC %
Wide Receiver  44 75 58.6
Tight End 23 44 67.6
Running Back 16 22 72.7

Targets from ESPN.com’s Redskins page on Oct. 4, 2011

RHH is not arguing that Grossman should get a pass (oops, pun) on starting. We are pointing out that his performance is not less than we expected and that alternatives promise no better. If his performance stays above his career average and he executes Kyle Shanahan’s game plan better than the alternative, then he remains the starter.

If he slips, or if the ‘Skins fall out of the playoff race, that would be the time to find out what we have in Beck.

I have a question for disappointed fans unhappy with the choice of Beck or Grossman. This question is so important that I’m going to put it in bold.

Who would you rather the Redskins to have picked in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft: Blaine Gabbert, or Ryan Kerrigan?

If you know anything about football, you said Kerrigan. We can compete with Grossman, for now, and address the “franchise QB” question next year.

Anthony Brown

About Anthony Brown

Lifelong Redskins fan and blogger about football and life since 2004. Joined MVN's Hog Heaven blog in 2005 and then moved Redskins Hog Heaven to Bolguin Network. Believes that the course of a season is pre-ordained by management decisions made during the offseason. Can occasionally be found on the This Given Sunday blog and he does guest posts.

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