- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 19, 2011

Rex Grossman’s completions of 17 and 20 yards on consecutive plays to start the Washington Redskins‘ second drive against the Miami Dolphins last Sunday were a reminder that it is indeed possible for this team to gain significant chunks of yards, to succeed and then build on that success.

That basic level of competence, or at least the outside football world’s belief in it, dissipated while Grossman was relegated to the sideline for Washington’s three previous games.

Now that Grossman has recaptured the starting quarterback job from John Beck, though, the Redskins at least believe they can jump start their inept offense in Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Players chose their words carefully at Redskins Park this week, but it’s clear that Grossman’s return is a galvanizing force.

“There were some very good moments in the game that we hadn’t quite gotten over the last couple of weeks,” right guard Chris Chester said. “Even though we didn’t win, we did some things pretty well, better than we had been doing the last couple of weeks.”

And that amounts to progress for Washington’s beleaguered offense. The Redskins‘ playoff hopes withered during the three games Beck started. Injuries exposed the offense’s lack of quality depth and, in turn, Beck’s inexperience.

Grossman might have been reinstated sooner if it weren’t for lingering effects of the pneumonia he contracted on Oct. 20. Perhaps the Redskins would still be in the mix for a playoff berth. As it stands, though, the Redskins are free falling under the weight of five consecutive losses.

But after coach Mike Shanahan went back to Grossman last Sunday, the offense at least showed signs of being competitive. They had a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter, but Grossman threw an interception at the 5-yard line.

Still, coaches positively reviewed his performance and remain optimistic despite a deteriorating injury situation along the offensive line and at receiver. Grossman completed 65.6 percent of his passes, easily his best mark in six games this season.

“He did a good job getting completions,” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. “He made some good decisions. I know he had two picks, but both of the throws he had — it was the right throw. He should have let it go when he did. It was unfortunate what happened. I didn’t think the two picks were his fault. We didn’t get into the end zone, but I thought he did a good job overall getting rid of the ball and making the right reads.”

Players this week also expressed a strong faith in Grossman. Some favor his calm demeanor over Beck’s high-energy nature.

“He seems laid back,” tight end Fred Davis said. “He seems ready. He seems like he’s in control. He looks like he’s going to take chances to throw it up there and let you get a chance to go get it. When you’ve got that opportunity, that’s always a good thing.”

Grossman played against Miami after working with the first-string offense for only half of the practice repetitions. This week he took all of the first-team snaps.

Grossman would not say whether he believes his teammates have more confidence in the offense with him under center, but he certainly does.

He’s eager to regain the form that helped the Redskins to a 3-1 start and generate a new surge of hope amid the current darkness.

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