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HARRIS: Debate over Redskins’ No. 3 QB? Real games can’t come soon enough

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 27, 2013

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

With the season opener less than two weeks away, the area is buzzing with Redskins talk like one would expect.

Given the tone of much of the talk, this shapes up to be a very good season.

On radio, on blogs, in print, on television, pretty much anywhere you look or listen, there's been considerable conversation about what many seem to think is actually important.

Rex Grossman as your No. 3 quarterback?

Or Pat White?

Seriously? This team must be in great shape if so much energy is being spent debating the merits of the candidates for the No. 3 quarterback slot. No matter which way you lean (and the choice here is Grossman), one thing is certain: It doesn't matter.

In fairness, the No. 3 QB thing is getting a bit more attention this preseason because the very clear No. 1 (Robert Griffin III) and the very clear No. 2 (Kirk Cousins) are hurt. Grossman and White have received more work because of that and White has been more impressive than many might have guessed.

Still, it is no reason to make this into any kind of debate. If the Redskins, or any other team, get down to the third quarterback, the identity of said quarterback probably isn't going to matter much. Anyone who thinks either Grossman or White is going to lead this team to the promised land isn't thinking very clearly.

Grossman we know all too well around here. He's kind of the whipping boy, the tie to the now-gone (we hope) era when the team wasn't any good. Like he was the only factor in that. The fact remains, for what this team may need out of a third-string quarterback, he is a much better choice than White. No matter how good White has looked in his preseason appearances.

The third-string quarterback isn't a guy you hope to develop for future use. Let's say the choice is White. Is he going to grow to the point where he's a better option than Griffin or Cousins (both of whom are younger)? Nope. Not going to happen, ever.

What Grossman provides in that position is a coach who still suits up, a guy who has been in the league for 10 years and commands respect for his knowledge of the game and knowledge of the Redskins' system. He may not able to execute it very well but he definitely knows it. He's an extra set of eyes for Griffin and Cousins. He's transitioning into the next stage of his career, assuming he wants to coach, and he is close to a perfect fit for that particular role.

White is younger by seven years, but he's not going to be much use helping Griffin or Cousins dissect what an opponent might be doing on defense. He also has pretty much zero NFL experience.

He hasn't played in the league since 2009, when he got into 10 games with the Dolphins. He was used very sparingly, almost exclusively out of a "wildcat" set. In six of those games, he had all of one rushing attempt. In two others, he had two.

As for passing, White tried to throw the ball five times.

His next NFL completion will be his first. On the bright side, he was not intercepted.

Yet somehow, despite extremely limited experience and not playing in the NFL at all for three seasons, has White developed enough to earn a roster spot? Maybe on some teams he'd be a fit at No. 3 QB. Not on this one.

You can make a case that the Redskins don't even need a third quarterback. Why not use that roster spot somewhere else? If Grossman is so valuable for his pseudo-coaching, take away his uniform and make him a real coach. The Redskins may yet go that route, but it doesn't seem likely.

White will play Thursday when the Redskins thankfully conclude the preseason with a game at Tampa Bay. Assuming Griffin gets the final clearance on his reconstructed right knee and Cousins' foot heals as expected, they will slide into their regular roles for the season opener. Grossman and White will be done, one of them with playing and one of them with the team.

And with that, we've been sucked into this senseless preseason debate. The real season cannot get here soon enough.

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