With Robert Griffin III concussed in the third quarter Sunday and the outcome against the Atlanta Falcons still in doubt, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan turned to fourth-round rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins instead of 10-year veteran Rex Grossman.
Shanahan made that choice before the game — Grossman was inactive and not in uniform. It was the greatest test of Grossman’s selflessness to date.
He has remained supportive of the rookie quarterbacks during his transition from last year’s starter to this season’s third-stringer, but that didn’t make it easy to watch an opportunity to play go to someone else.
“The national anthem, when you know you’re probably not going to play, is probably the toughest part because you get all those butterflies and all the excitement,” Grossman said. “You’ve been competing your whole life and you don’t have a chance to play. So there’s some pride you have to swallow and do what’s best for the team and help out however you can.”
Cousins threw a go-ahead 77-yard touchdown to Santana Moss, but he followed with two interceptions that clinched the loss. Cousins said he tried to do too much. That’s a product of his inexperience.
In contrast, Grossman has come off the bench cold before. We’ll never know if Grossman would have fared better.
“Kirk has been No. 2 for a reason – because we feel like he earned that right,” Shanahan said. “We feel very good about him and where he’s at, but I also have a lot of confidence in Rex as well.”
Depth chart decisions aren’t up to Grossman, so he focuses on on what he can control.
“You know at any point you can play, and you keep preparing,” he said. “And when you get an opportunity, make the best of it.”