Redskins-Ravens Film Review: Offense

Quarterback Rex Grossman of the Washington Redskins hands off to Dante Barnes in preseason football at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD, Thursday, August 25, 2011. (Andrew Harnik / The Washington Times)Quarterback Rex Grossman of the Washington Redskins hands off to Dante Barnes in preseason football at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD, Thursday, August 25, 2011. (Andrew Harnik / The Washington Times)

ANALYSIS/OPINION

My observations, analysis and conclusions about the Washington Redskins‘ offense after re-watching their 34-31 preseason loss to the Baltimore Ravens using the TV broadcast:

Through three preseason games, neither Rex Grossman nor John Beckhas separated himself in the quarterback battle. Each has engineered scoring drives. Each has been accurate when afforded space and time to throw. Each has exploited auspicious matchups and coverages. Each has misfired on a few passes that should have been completed.

Coach Mike Shanahan says he is comfortable with either option, and his confidence is justified. No matter who is under center Sept. 11 against the Giants, I think it’s fair to say that Grossman and Beck have earned a level of respect among fans and media that did not exist at the start of training camp. The Redskins are better at quarterback right now than they were at this time last year with Donovan McNabb.

I’m sticking with Beck as my prediction for opening day starter. I’d be moderately surprised if Grossman is the guy. To me, two elements give the tiebreaker to Beck: 1) his mobility/speed, and 2) his relative inexperience means there’s a steeper production curve as the season progresses and his experience builds.

Receiver Santana Moss of the Washington Redskins is hit hard on a short pass by cornerback Domonique Foxworth of the Baltimore Ravens in  preseason football at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD, Thursday, August 25, 2011. (Andrew Harnik / The Washington Times)

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Receiver Santana Moss of the Washington Redskins is hit hard on a ... more >

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QB Rex Grossman kept the competition interesting against Baltimore. Perhaps his greatest success was protecting the ball against a troublesome Ravens pass rush. Turnovers have always been a knock on him, and he rebounded from throwing a pick against Indianapolis’ reserves last week.

In reviewing the Colts game, coach Mike Shanahan complimented QB John Beck for not making broken plays worse with poor decisions. Grossman matched that on Thursday. On the play he was sacked, the blocking breakdown (TE Fred Davis was involved) was so egregious that he didn’t even have time to throw into trouble. The optimist would credit Grossman for not fumbling.

Grossman was sharp behind the first-string offensive line for the second time this preseason. When the line created a sound pocket, he stepped into his throws and successfully attacked the middle of the field. He connected with WRs Anthony Armstrong and Jabar Gaffney on the touchdown drive. He recognized a blitz from his left and hit WR Santana Moss, the hot receiver, for a 13-yard gain.

On the 24-yard touchdown to Moss, Grossman saw Ravens rookie CB Jimmy Smith blow the coverage by following Gaffney to the flat. His throw outside the numbers wasn’t as accurate as his passes to the middle of the field, but it was close enough for Moss to pivot and catch on his inside shoulder.

Grossman wasn’t perfect, of course. He overthrew Moss underneath on a third down. He also bounced a throw to Gaffney over the middle.

Grossman said after the game: “I just feel good about what I’ve done” in the competition. He should.

***

I’m not sure whether offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan opened the playbook up more for QB John Beck, but it seemed like it. Beck took more shots downfield than QB Rex Grossman did. His first throw, a 33-yard completion to WR Anthony Armstrong, had the necessary touch. If Armstrong didn’t have to drift to the sideline to catch it, he might have scored. Then again, the throw to Armstrong’s outside shoulder ensured there would be no interception.

Beck clearly feels comfortable with WR Terrence Austin. No surprise there; they worked together on the scout team all last season. Beck threw to Austin on third-and-6 from Washington’s 7-yard line even though no one covered WR Donté Stallworth underneath. Austin had a cornerback on his back, but Beck’s throw was perfect and they got the first down. What’s more, Beck stood firm in the pocket as bodies fell at his feet.

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