Donovan McNabb’s trade to the Washington 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 chaotic feel.
Just how unsettled is it? Rex Grossman said Wednesday that he believes he is the team’s starting quarterback going forward — though he’s not even under contract for next year. John Beck, the 2010 third-stringer, believes the same thing.
McNabb, meanwhile, is an afterthought. The six-time Pro Bowler is on his way out in a divorce that keeps getting uglier.
“No one else outside can control what happens at Redskins Park,” McNabb told reporters Wednesday at the grand opening of a medical facility in the District. “They’re in full control, I guess, so they’ll make their decision, and whatever decision it is, we keep on moving.”
McNabb’s expected departure has created a vacuum at the top of the Redskins‘ quarterback depth chart. The NFL lockout has prevented any practices that could help coaches determine who will fill it, so for now the contenders are jockeying for position with their words.
He spoke on ESPN 980 radio in his first public comments since coach Mike Shanahan decided not to draft a quarterback last month and followed that by endorsing Beck as a leading candidate to start the 2011 season.
Grossman said he assumes he will re-sign with the team. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur encouraged him before the lockout to throw with Redskins players and study the playbook in the offseason. That, plus general manager Bruce Allen’s pre-lockout conversations with his agent, makes him optimistic.
“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,” Grossman said.
“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.”
Grossman gained regular-season game experience when he replaced McNabb for the final three games of 2010. He believes that gives him an advantage in an offseason nearly lost to the lockout. Beck, on the other hand, hasn’t played a regular-season game since starting four during his rookie season with the Miami Dolphins 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 Kyle Shanahan and have him explain to you the rhythm of how you do things because it’s a very rhythmic, timing offense. It’s already mid-May, and we don’t have much time left.”
“He definitely works hard, and he’s eager for his opportunity,” Grossman said, “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 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.”
Grossman and Beck both are expected to attend the Redskins‘ informal practices next week, and McNabb is not. McNabb said Wednesday that he wants to remain in Washington, but Grossman indicated otherwise after exchanging text messages with McNabb on Wednesday morning.