Donovan McNabb’s trade to the Redskins last year was supposed to end their annual quarterback controversies. But now that the final weeks of his ill-fated tenure are counting down, the quarterback landscape has a familiar feel.
Exactly how unsettled are things? Well, Rex Grossman today said that he believes he is the Redskins’ starting quarterback next season—and he’s not even under contract for next year! (Which, in fairness, he readily acknowledged.)
“If you’re asking me, I definitely feel like I’m the starter. But I’m not even signed yet, so I’m assuming a lot of things here,” Grossman said on ESPN980-AM this afternoon. “I feel like I’m coming into the prime of my experience, and I know exactly what I can do well, what my weaknesses are and what my strengths are and how it relates to this offense.
“I’ve been in a lot of situations, crucial games, I’ve played in a Super Bowl. I feel like I’m so much better than I was then that I’d love the opportunity to have a full season with this offense and have a whole season to really feel like this is my team. That’s my goal.”
These were Grossman’s first public comments since head coach Mike Shanahan decided not to draft a quarterback last month and followed that by endorsing 2010 third-stringer John Beck as a leading candidate to start next season.
Beck over the last month has been vocal about his desire to seize the opportunity created by McNabb’s expected departure. After all, he and McNabb are the only two quarterbacks the Redskins have under contract for next season.
Grossman, however, started the final three games last season after McNabb was benched. He’s got regular-season game experience in the Redskins’ offense, which he believes gives him an advantage in an offseason nearly lost to the lockout. Beck hasn’t played a regular-season game since starting four during rookie season in 2007.
“There’s a lot of things you cannot learn just looking at a playbook and going with this offense,” Grossman said. “You have to have reps in it. You have to have tape and watch tape with [offensive coordinator] Kyle Shanahan and have him explain to you the rhythm of how you do things because it’s a very rhythmic, timing offense. You have to incorporate all these little things and go through your progression, and it takes a while to master it. It’s already mid-May, and we don’t have much time left.”
Grossman confirmed that Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur asked him before the lockout to continue throwing with Redskins players and keep studying the playbook in the offseason. That, in addition to general manager Bruce Allen’s pre-lockout conversations with his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, have him operating on the assumption that he will be re-sign with the club.
That’s why Grossman joined Beck at the Redskins’ informal practices last month. He plans to attend the three days of practices planned for next week.
Grossman implied his relationship with Beck is good. He has noticed Beck’s recent media blitz of sorts.
“He’s a great guy,” Grossman said. “He definitely works hard, and he’s eager for his opportunity. I feel like every single player in the NFL, if you don’t feel like you’re a starter, you shouldn’t be in the business. I feel like he’s no different than anyone else around the league trying to do whatever you can to put yourself in the starting lineup.
“I think he’s leaving no stone unturned. I think he’s doing everything he can to put himself out there. You’re not going to be perceived as a starter unless you say it, I guess. If he doesn’t say it, no one else is going to say it. I know that the coaches appreciate his hard work and think he’s pretty talented and are not quite sure what he can do.”
All this is just talk, though. As Beck also has acknowledged, Grossman knows no positions will be awarded before the competition plays out on the practice field.
“Nobody just picks somebody,” Grossman said. “The best player finds his way to the field. I truly believe that. It’ll work itself out and hopefully I’ll be the guy.”