K GRAHAM GANO: The Redskins seem to have solved whatever was plaguing the snap-hold-kick part of their field goal operation. Gano tied his career-long with a 50-yarder, his second from that distance in the last three games. He’s now 9 for 12 this season, and one of those failures was a block and another was a botched hold. Gano just has to keep it up. As for kickoffs, his 69.6 touchback percentage ranks fourth in the NFL.
QB REX GROSSMAN:Grossman’s bad game was about more than his four interceptions, which he explained in detail for the public immediately after the game. Not all of them were his fault—TE Fred Davis didn’t continue his route across SS Kurt Coleman on the third one—but the Eagles also dropped two potential picks.
His decision making on several passes was highly questionable. On the potential interception that CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie dropped on third-and-3 in the second quarter, the pocket broke down when DE Darryl Tapp beat backup LT Sean Locklear with an inside move. Grossman spun left out of a sack, only to be faced with stunting DT Cullen Jenkins. He then quickly threw off his back foot over the middle. At that point it was 3.5 seconds after the snap. Late, over the middle and off the back foot is a lethal combination. The throw was behind WR Jabar Gaffney, who Rodgers-Cromartie effectively jammed after the snap. Fortunately for the Redskins, Rodgers-Cromartie dropped the ball.
Another non-interception stood out: his overthrow of WR Santana Moss on first down late in the first half. Grossman took a five-step drop while Moss slanted from the right. RT Jammal Brown was driven back by DE Jason Babin, not necessarily into Grossman but apparently enough for Rex to sense the pocket collapsing. Instead of stepping into the throw, Grossman got too high and faded away. The ball sailed too high for Moss to catch.
As for Shanahan’s decision regarding who to start against Carolina, I believe he could make a convincing case for either Grossman or Beck. The question I ask is: What has changed since Shanahan named Grossman the starter on Sept. 5?
Grossman’s decision making and mechanics, especially when the pocket breaks down, have always been a focus. That is not a new problem that arose on Sunday. In some games he’s better than others. He has made some great throws—even the 45-yard flea-flicker to Gaffney against Philadelphia was a beauty—and some stinkers. That’s who he was in the preseason when he beat out Beck.
Beck’s inability to go through OTAs and minicamps with coaches last offseason hurt his evolution, but how much has he improved, if at all, by running the scout team, taking mental reps with the first team and sitting in on meetings? There are reasons he lost the preseason competition to Grossman, and if those still hold up, then Shanahan’s decision to keep Grossman in place is clear.
One thing that has changed: injuries to the offensive line. Beck’s mobility might be a bigger asset than it was in September now that LT Trent Williams and LG Kory Lichtensteiger are out of the lineup.
RT JAMMAL BROWN: On a difficult day for the whole offensive line, Brown gets special mention because he struggled at the position he has played for more than a year. With backups patching holes on the left side of the line, Brown broke down too frequently on the right when the Redskins desperately needed some stability.
Brown doesn’t match up all that favorably against the ‘Wide 9’ technique played by Philadelphia’s defensive ends. He’s good at swallowing pass rushers when they engage, but he’s susceptible to outside speed rushes and inside moves that play off them because his feet aren’t the quickest and he doesn’t always stay square. The wide alignment challenges those weaknesses, but he was OK in pass protection. His run blocking wasn’t as strong, though, mainly because of leverage problems.