- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 13, 2011

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Washington Redskins are circling on a carousel of losses. Round and round they go.
This disaster of a season got away from them last month because of Rex Grossman’s interceptions. It then twirled to John Beck’s poor timing. And on Sunday it whipped back around to another costly Grossman pick.

It’s a nauseating ride the Redskins can’t get off. Coach Mike Shanahan reinstated Grossman as the starting quarterback before Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins only to be reminded why he benched Grossman in the first place.

Grossman’s fourth-quarter interception at the Dolphins‘ 5-yard line stopped a potential go-ahead touchdown drive and ultimately doomed the point-starved Redskins to a 20-9 defeat.

After their fifth straight loss, they’re back to where they started. Shanahan has exhausted both of his quarterback options with negligible success.

He’ll proceed into the final seven games without a clear-cut starter, proof that the organization has made no progress at quarterback through 25 games of his tenure.

“We’ll change week by week like I told you,” Shanahan said. “We’re just going to keep on fighting and do what we feel like gives us the best chance to win based on a number of situations. It could be the defense. It could be personnel.”

If the quarterback is the most important player on a football team, then you understand the hopelessness that clouds the Redskins‘ final seven games. Players inside the locker room afterward expressed support of both Grossman and Beck, but the results on the field have not earned that.

Shanahan said he intended to stick with Beck after last Sunday’s 19-11 loss to San Francisco. He changed his mind by Tuesday, however, and both quarterbacks split practice repetitions with the first-team offense last week.

“Putting John in a situation where we had a number of players go down, with his experience, I thought it was in our best interest to go with the guy I felt would give us the best chance to win the game, and that was Rex,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan told Grossman Saturday night that he would start, ending his three-game stint on the bench. Beck lost all three of those games, and two of them were particularly ugly.

Sunday’s game, however, wasn’t any better.

The Redskins failed to cross the goal line for the second time in the past three games. Their rushing attack struggled – again – and they converted only 5 of 14 third downs. Washington averaged only 4.7 yards per play, its second-lowest single-game average of the season.

Grossman at first seemed to be a tourniquet, moving the offense on drives of 33 and 39 yards in the first half. Those aren’t impressive totals by any standard, but the Redskins have a sub-standard offense.

“We moved the ball pretty well, but we didn’t get it in the end zone,” Grossman said. “We just didn’t get it done, and it’s frustrating because I think we should have.”

The running game again failed to take pressure off the quarterback. For the first time in three games, the Redskins were able to stick with it in the second half because they kept the score close. But running lanes weren’t consistently available.

Starter Ryan Torain and Roy Helu combined for only 61 yards on 17 carries.

“The first thing you’ve got to do is look at your running game,” Shanahan said. “We’re going to have to improve in that area to be the type of offense we want to be.”

Grossman forged some semblance of a rhythm; more, at least, than Beck did. Rookie receiver Leonard Hankerson (106 yards, eight catches) became the first Redskins receiver to eclipse the 100-yard mark in a game this season.

His 22-yard catch down the middle on third-and-10 gave Washington first-and-goal from the Miami 10, trailing 13-9 early in the fourth quarter.

But Grossman failed when it mattered most. The Redskins on first down came out with three receivers to the left. Hankerson ran out, and Jabar Gaffney ran in.

“The linebacker came down on Jabar and I tried to put it to Hankerson behind him,” Grossman said. “He stepped back and made a great play on it. I’ve got to be more careful with the ball, especially on first down in the red zone at a crucial point the game.”

The Dolphins turned Karlos Dansby’s interception into a 10-play, 81-yard touchdown drive that sealed Washington’s defeat.

It left the Redskins at a loss. Beck wasn’t a solution, and neither was Grossman. Now what?

“Anything right now,” right tackle Sean Locklear said. “We’re trying to find anything that might spark us.”



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