SNYDER: There’s no choice but to trust Shanahan

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ANALYSIS/OPINION:

All along, Mike Shanahan has asked us to believe in him. From bringing in Donovan McNabb and shipping him off, to letting the draft come and go without selecting a quarterback, Shanahan has asked that we have faith as he handles Washington’s need at the MIP (Most Important Position).

The Redskins‘ coach said he was comfortable with Rex Grossman and John Beck, expressing confidence that either could do a fine job. The two were allowed to compete in training camp and throughout the preseason, a race that required a photo finish. But at the end, Shanahan named Grossman the starter, saying he gave Washington its best chance to win.

The Redskins’ 3-2 record under Grossman is perfectly reasonable and widely considered a best-case scenario after five games entering the season. But the masses in D.C. are convinced that the wrong guy is under center.

So the question must be asked: Are you going to trust Shanahan or your lying eyes?

On Wednesday, Shanahan will make his second announcement this season regarding his starting quarterback. It’s almost inconceivable that he’ll stick with Grossman after Sunday’s four-pick fiasco, which also included Philly defenders dropping a pair of would-be interceptions.

But remember, Grossman is who we knew he was. He’s a turnover-prone QB who can show Rex-less disregard for the ball.

Surely that’s no shock to Shanahan, who was well-aware of Grossman’s history and limitations beforehand. Yet the coach still named him the No. 1 quarterback.

If you trusted Shanahan back then you have to trust him today. Even if he says Grossman will start against Carolina. Unlikely as that might seem, it’s under consideration and has a vote of approval from leading receiver Santana Moss.

The reasoning is in place, regardless of Shanahan’s choice: He has confidence in both QBs.

At least that’s the company line. He can tell us anything (and often tells us nothing), leaving no way to determine what’s truly what. However, it’s a different story inside the locker room, where he has to play it straight.

“Well, what I think you have to do with your football team is at least be honest,” he said Monday. “You have to tell them what you’re thinking.”

There’s no question what the public is thinking. Fans want Beck and they’re going Michael Scott at the thought of another Grossman start — “Noooo God! No! God Please! No!”

Not counting Grossman’s four interceptions Sunday, there are four more reasons to give Beck a shot. Starting left tackle Trent Williams and starting left guard Kory Lichtensteiger are out, while reserve linemen Erik Cook and Sean Locklear are in.

Beck’s superior mobility could be more necessity than luxury behind Washington’s reconfigured line, which could result in a lumbering Grossman being reconfigured before long.

But, again, Shanahan and everyone else have known all along that Beck is more athletic and better on the move. Everyone knows he has a stronger arm, too. Still, those factors weren’t enough to beat out Grossman’s overall experience (Super Bowl quarterback) and familiarity in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s system.

Was that a mistake? Beck’s stinker in the preseason finale canceled out his last appealing feature, the lure of the unknown. It morphed into fear of the unknown when he struggled against Tampa Bay’s vanilla schemes and second-stringers.

Would Beck have led the Redskins to victory against the New York Giants? Would he have conducted two late scoring drives — including a beautiful 18-yard TD to Moss on fourth-and-5 — for a come-from-behind win against Arizona? Would he have avoided catastrophic miscues in helping Washington escape St. Louis with a 17-10 victory?

Who knows? His accuracy and decision-making were shaky during the competition, but Grossman’s has been shaky, like, forever. Beck hasn’t had much live action with the Redskins’ offense to increase his comfort level during practice, but running the scout team should have helped him improve across the board.

For the record, I agreed with Shanahan’s decision to give Grossman the job, though the idea of untapped potential made Beck appealing. Now I’d start Beck on Sunday, intrigued by his possible upside and upgrade.

But I won’t be surprised no matter whom Shanahan chooses, figuring both QBs will play over the remainder of the season.

“What you try to do is do things that you feel give you the best chance to win based on a lot of different factors,” he said. “In not only practice over the last couple of weeks, but how a person plays, your gut for the future, your football team.”

Just like he did initially, Shanahan will trust his gut.

And whether he turns to Beck or sticks with Grossman, your trust will be tested.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author

Deron Snyder

Deron Snyder is an award-winning journalist and Washington Times sports columnist with more than 25 years of experience. He has worked at USA Today and his column was syndicated in Gannett’s 80-plus newspapers from 2000-2009, appearing in The Arizona Republic, The Indianapolis Star, The Detroit News and many others. Follow Deron on Twitter @DeronSnyder or email him at deronwashtimes@gmail.com.

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