When the airwaves buzzed this spring about the possibility of John Beck skyrocketing from the Washington Redskins‘ scout team to the starting lineup, Rex Grossman stepped away from the microphones and waited. He would win the quarterback competition on the field, he said then. He once started the Super Bowl. His experience would help him shine.
Grossman’s confidence was validated Monday when coach Mike Shanahan announced he will start Sunday’s regular-season opener against the New York Giants. Shanahan rewarded Grossman’s strong preseason performance, choosing the experienced quarterback over the more mobile Beck.
“You look at [Rex] every day, everything he does,” Shanahan said. “It’s a big evaluation process. You’re talking about seven-on-seven [drills], team [drills], check-offs, audibles, blitzes. I thought he did a great job. I thought John did, too, but I thought Rex won by an edge.”
“Obviously, you make the decision based for the season,” he said. “When you pick a guy out, you’re not saying, hey, you think that guy’s going to fail. Obviously you’re hoping he’ll be very successful.”
“You’ve got to be at the top of your game to stay at any position,” Shanahan said. “I know everyone wants to make the quarterback controversy and how long will he be here, just like any position. You’ve got to perform. If you’re a Pro Bowl player or you’re coming in as a first-round draft choice or third-round draft choice, we evaluate you every day.”
“I told you guys the truth,” he said. “Day by day, practice every day, game situations, just watching guys how they performed in all different areas, and it was close. Very competitive. I have a lot of confidence in both guys after watching through this camp.”
“Rex, I think he played great,” receiver Anthony Armstrong said. “He did everything I expected him to do. He went out there and ran the offense well. He was extremely efficient with it. I think he did a good job putting his name in the hat.”
A team source last week said coaches at the start of training camp considered the job Grossman’s to lose, but Beck made them reconsider with his strong play. Both effectively moved the first-string offense at times during the preseason.
Beck’s chances of winning the starting job, however, suffered three significant blows since the end of last season.
First, the lockout resulted in the cancellation of the team’s official offseason program. He missed 17 practices that would have helped him get comfortable running the offense after operating the scout team’s plays for all of last season.