Rex Grossman can make the Redskins better in 2011

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ANALYSIS/OPINION

LANDOVER, Md. — The blockbuster quarterback competition between Rex Grossman and John Beck has made the Washington Redskins a national punch line this summer. That’s understandable. Grossman couldn’t turn his 2006 Super Bowl appearance into any sort of staying power in Chicago, and Beck is competing with an intern’s résumé.

So go ahead laugh all you want. No one could blame you. But while you’re rolling on the floor, know this: Grossman isn’t going to make you wish Donovan McNabb were still in town.

And considering he’s the known quantity in this battle, the Redskins aren’t going to be any worse at quarterback in 2011 than they were in Mike Shanahan’s 6-10 debut campaign.

Grossman was better than mediocre during his two quarters of work in Friday night’s preseason opener, a 16-7 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yes, the bar is that low. That’s just how it is until someone comes along and raises it.

Redskins receiver Santana Moss (89) catches a pass and crosses the goal line in the first half to score the Redskins only touchdown, during a preseason game between the Washington Redskins and the Pittsburgh Steelers, at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., Friday, Aug. 12, 2011. (Drew Angerer/The Washington Times)

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Redskins receiver Santana Moss (89) catches a pass and crosses the goal ... more >

While Beck was sidelined with a groin strain, Grossman seized the night by completing 19 of 26 passes for 207 yards, a touchdown and no turnovers. That should at least give the doomsdayers something to ponder when considering the Redskins’ chances of improving — yes, improving — upon last season’s win total.

“We got into a rhythm and pretty much played consistent throughout the first half,” Grossman said.

“I felt about as comfortable as I’ve ever felt in this offense tonight. Everything kind of slowed down for me a little bit and for whatever reason, it just felt really comfortable for me.”

We know that Grossman isn’t as accurate as Drew Brees. We know he doesn’t make decisions like Peyton Manning. He doesn’t have a rifle like Jay Cutler. He can’t make plays when the pocket breaks down like Michael Vick.

He’s strictly a system quarterback, but that’s OK. Grossman reminded us Friday that he can be effective in this scheme of misdirection.

Most importantly, he knows the offense. That alone puts him ahead of McNabb.

“I think that he was efficient because we’ve all been in the offense for a year and he’s been in the offense for two years now,” receiver Anthony Armstrong said. “We had that camaraderie. We were going to battle with each other last year, and he comes in and you know what he has to offer and he knows what we can do. You don’t have to do too much work to get back on the same page.”

Against Pittsburgh, Grossman consistently got the offense to the line of scrimmage with at least 15 seconds left on the play clock. There was no confusion in the huddle like there was deep into last season, only the upbeat tempo that offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan craves.

Grossman also consistently put his receivers in position to gain yards after the catch — a product of accuracy and sound decision making.

In leading the Redskins’ 89 yards on their first drive, he converted second-and-4 by rolling out on a play-action bootleg and hitting tight end Fred Davis in stride. He checked down to running back Tim Hightower in the flat, leading Hightower perfectly for an 8-yard gain.

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