By Benjamin Standig
Defending Rex in 2012
In yesterday's "Word", I highlighted a column that stated it would be hunky dory for Rex Grossman to be back as Redskins quarterback - starting at that - in 2012. Could not agree more. Some of my CSNwashington colleagues clearly disagree - seeing as it's the holiday season, I'll give them a pass for not highlighting my take in their rebuttal - as do many fans, especially those who seemingly cannot separate emotion from their football-frenzied reality. Well, to quote Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, allow me to retort.
Stating that the turnover-plagued Grossman makes for a viable alternative next season is not the same as stating he should or that it is close to being a desirable option. However, before you dismiss, context is needed.
For starters, let's look at other starting quarterbacks in the NFL. I'm not talking about third stringers thrust into the job by injury, but the top of the depth chart options: Tavaris Jackson, Alex Smith, Kevin Kolb, Chad Henne/Matt Moore, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Colt McCoy, Matt Cassel, Carson Palmer.
Sorry, nobody on that list would unequivocally have done more with the Redskins this season than Rex (Do not say Fitzpatrick. That extenstion the Bills handed him has been mocked in most circles and with good reason). Cannot be done. Josh Freeman's horrid 2011 campaign could have landed him on that list. Jacksonville rookie Blaine Gabbert might be worst of all, but fine, he's gets a pass, for now.
So before anyone says no to Rex simply because you have witnessed that (at times) freak show, realize any of these passers would have you throwing things at the television during football Sundays.
Now, here are the Redskins potential paths when it comes to their quarterback next season:
1) select a rookie quarterback early in the 2012 NFL Draft while providing a veteran to help shepherd the kid into the pro ranks or act as starting stopgap for all or part of the season
2) acquire a veteran quarterback as the medium-to-long term solution while using the early draft picks on other need areas like the offensive line, receiver and corner
3) stand pat with Grossman and John Beck
The final choice is a non-starter because even if Grossman returns, Mike Shanahan will provide competition/future help. Sorry John, it was nice knowing you.
Now, if you go with the middle option and say (as Rich Tandler suggested) acquire the likes of Green Bay backup quarterback Matt Flynn, then there is no need to in fact keep Rex Grossman as anything more than a backup, if at all. Of course, the Redskins are not the only team that might kick the Flynn tires so who knows the cost (by the way, projecting Flynn to be special is based on...? Not saying I'm not intrigued, but I don't believe the jury has settled this case just yet).
What about free agency? Assuming Drew Brees stays in New Orleans, the top free agent quarterbacks next season appear to be Alex Smith and Kyle Orton, two options within the plus/minus Rex Grossman disaster margin of error. Former Redskins Jason Campbell and Donovan McNabb are also in the likely mix, but good luck getting those two back, even if you wanted them.
Finally, the rookie QB path. Sure, if the Redskins put themselves into a position where they draft Baylor's Robert Griffin III or USC's Matt Barkley, fine, but please do not suggest they must start from day one. Doing so on a team with gaping holes along the offensive line or without a playmaking wide receiver that can make do even with the lamest of QB scenarios (see Larry Fitzgerald during the Cardinals winning streak) leads to potential David Carr like results.
Yes, Mark Sanchez and Joe Flacco played immediately, but they had strong offensive lines, not to mention powerful running attacks and game-changing defenses to lean on. Here, not so much. Same for Bengals current rookie Andy Dalton, who looks good when A.J. Green climbs the ladder in between two defenders to haul in a breathtaking score. Grossman gets little help on his high throws or jump ball tosses.
So a veteran quarterback is a must and for me that player starts week one. Did you see a realistic name above you would definitely be better than Rex Grossman? Are you going to trade picks to acquire a one-year rental? If so, the memories of Jason Taylor and T.J. Duckett laugh at you.
Most want the Redskins to select a quarterback in round one. Fine, but don't get fooled into thinking every rookie can contribute off the bat like Dalton and Cam Newton. Most look like Gabbert. That's where a veteran comes into play.
Rex Grossman was 3-1 when the Redskins had their best potential lineup. He is aggressive, at times to a fault, but until this team finds playmakers, it's fine to have someone that is not afraid to make plays. Hate on Rex all you want, but until you have the specific better and realisitic option to discuss, stating Grossman in 2012 remains a viable approach.