2011 Washington Redskins: Who Will Be Under Center for the Redskins This Season?
Do I even have to say Donovan McNabb isn't going to be back in Washington next season?
At this point, it's a lot like saying "water is wet." It's such a forgone conclusion (especially in the wake of Wristband Gate), that continuing to say it doesn't even sound like it's a sentence in English anymore.
With the Redskins not selecting a quarterback in the 2011 NFL draft, the question has become "who will be the Redskins quarterback?" As of now, the Redskins only have two quarterbacks under contract, and only one of them has any chance of being back.
Even with the lockout still raging, the question of who will be throwing the ball in 2011 is on the forefront of people's minds, and the Redskins have been linked to...well, pretty much every free-agent quarterback available out there.
So who are the men most likely to suit up in burgundy and gold next season? Let's take a look at the guys who may fit the most at the position.
Current Starter: John Beck
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John Beck finds himself in a situation that's a lot like the current situation of Carolina Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen; a second-round draft pick, expected to sit on the bench and develop, forced to play after injuries knock the starter out.
Without a whole lot of talent, the rookies struggle. The head coach ends up getting canned, and replaced by a new regime. And though you're promised a chance to compete, the new regime wastes no time bringing in another guy to replace you.
In Clausen's case, it was Cam Newton. In John Beck's case, the Miami Dolphins, who drafted Beck in the 2007 NFL draft in the second round, brought in Bill Parcells. Though Parcells told Beck he reminded him of Tony Romo, Parcell's brought in Luke McCown and placed him on the depth chart above Beck, and then Chad Pennington was traded to the team.
Beck would spend 2008 as the third quarterback on the Dolphins, before getting released and landing with his former head coach (and the guy who drafted him) Cam Cameron in Baltimore. But Beck had no chance to start there either; with two guys that Ozzie Newsome actually drafted on the roster (Troy Smith and Joe Flacco), Beck was once again the third quarterback on the roster.
In 2010, he was traded to the Washington Redskins to compete with Richard Bartel for—you guessed it—the role of third-string quarterback.
The common complaint about Beck is that, if he had any potential, he'd be starting. That thought process doesn't take into account that Beck has thrice now been in situations in which he had no legitimate chance to be the starter, as there were already starters at the position.
To Beck's credit, he didn't look terrible in the 2010 preseason. But the Redskins gave him a contract extension for a reason, and both Mike and Kyle Shanahan seem poised to start Beck.
Also to his credit, he's saying and doing all the right things; he has been working out with Super Bowl MVPs Aaron Rogers and Drew Brees, he's organizing a team workout and has been sending playbooks to the Redskins rookies. He's talked about his passion for football and is hungry for his second chance.
That kind of work ethic and drive has been sorely missed in Washington.
Right now, Beck is the sentimental favorite to some fans. You never know; he could turn out to be the next Kurt Warner. If nothing else, he can be an effective stopgap until the Redskins can draft the guy who can be the next guy. Everyone is in a panic right now about the quarterback, but if Beck can be effective over two to three years, the stability at the position will the Redskins to address the needs they have elsewhere.
Likely To Be Resigned: Rex Grossman
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No one is going to name Rex Grossman "Captain Consistency," but in his limited starts, he did seem to have a solid grasp of the offense. He was also far more effective in the red zone than McNabb was, which is a key for this team.
He's also a turnover causing machine; the interceptions were somewhat understandable when you examine the circumstances, but the fumbles were constant drive killers.
When Rex Grossman has a clean pocket and time to throw, he's can be as effective as anyone in the league. But when things break down, he doesn't have the mobility to escape pressure, and his decision making under pressure leaves a lot to be desired, along with his ball security issues.
However, resigning Rex would guarantee that, in the event that whoever the start is gets hurt or is ineffective, that there would at least be a guy who could run the offense effectively, and the offense and tempo of the team were much better with Rex under center.
Everyone likes a comeback, and Rex could make one. Rumors say the Bengals have been sniffing around him to potential sign with them, but it'd be worth it for the 'Skins to resign him instead; if nothing else, he can be an effective backup who can start in a pinch. Who knows, with an improve offensive line, he might be even more effective.
But please, please, someone teach him how to not fumble the football.
Trade Bait?: Jimmy Clausen
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Hear me out on this one.
The Panthers just spent their first-round draft pick on Cam Newton. They tendered Matt Moore a new contract, and it seems likely that, no matter what the rules are, they'd re-sign him as a veteran quarterback while Newton develops and maybe be a backup. They also have Brian St. Pierre as another veteran quarterback.
Jimmy Clausen, oddly enough, ends up being the odd man out in this situation. Like John Beck, Clausen wasn't meant to start (or at least not start so soon) in his rookie season. He had little help once he got in, and no time to develop in the offense, and now he's on the out looking in, as there's a new shiny toy to play with.
Clausen was pegged as someone the Redskins were looking at in 2010. If the price were right for someone like Clausen in terms of trading for him, Clausen provides the younger, developmental quarterback the Redskins need. The Panthers avoid the "quarterback controversy" between Newton and Clausen, and the Redskins get a young body they can train in the offense, which is what Shanahan likes to do.
If it works, the Redskins could potentially save themselves the trouble of drafting a quarterback next season if John Beck isn't quite the right fit, and Clausen gets an honest chance to have a career before it ends.
Just kicking the tires on this one. But I wouldn't hate it, if the price were right.
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John Skelton stands out in my mind for one reason; he seemed to be the only quarterback on the Cardinals roster who was able to get the ball to Larry Fitzgerald with any sort of regularity last season.
Skelton was a fourth-round draft pick of the Cardinals in 2010 but actually ended up being lower on the depth chart than undrafted rookie Max Hall. Skelton saw spot duty in relief of Hall and veteran quarterback Derek Anderson and looked as impressive as a rookie in a terrible situation could look.
He has a pretty good arm and has solid mobility. Again, this is just kicking the tires, and Cardinals head coach seems to like Skelton (otherwise, why would he draft him?). But, if the price were right, like Clausen, Skelton can be a younger option than Beck, and a solid developmental prospect for a team that's focused on youth.
It seems likely that the Cardinals will add a quarterback to their roster in free agency. They'll also probably be keeping Derek Anderson, and they appeared to like Max Hall.
Once again, this is mainly me kicking the tires. But for the cost of a low draft pick, the Redskins can ensure themselves they still have a young option moving forward.
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Matt Hasselbeck pretty much fits the definition of "veteran stopgap quarterback." He might not take you to the playoffs (then again, he somehow managed it with the 7-9 Seahawks), but, when he's healthy, he's an effective quarterback that can pilot you through a season.
The question is, really, after a season of working with one veteran quarterback on the downside of his career, how high will Shanahan's willingness be to work with another guy. You can cite Hasselbeck's experience in the West Coast Offense as a plus...but then again, Donovan McNabb comes from a West Coast Offense, and that didn't work quite as well.
If Hasselbeck doesn't stay in Seattle, he could be a last-minute option, but I wouldn't quite place my money on him being in burgundy and gold.
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Tarvaris Jackson's run with the Minnesota Vikings has been anything but consistent. Drafted in the second round of the 2006 NFL draft, Jackson has been incapable of nailing down the starting job for the Vikings. Unlike others on this list, he had plenty of opportunities to make the jump. But issues with health and inconsistent play hampered his ability to start.
To put things in perspective, even when Brett Favre was struggling terribly, T-Jack was never given a chance to get on the field. When Favre finally went down with an injury, T-Jack was asked to step up. He turned in a two-touchdown, three-interception performance against a not-too-good Buffalo Bills team. The next week, he couldn't move the ball at all versus the Giants and ended up injuring himself and Adrian Peterson on a routine hand-off.
To put the final nail in his coffin, the Vikings drafted Christian Ponder in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft and didn't tender him an offer at the end of the season. The Vikings right now are poised to enter the 2011 season with a rookie quarterback, a quarterback the Vikings drafted to play wide receiver and Rhett friggin' Bomar.
That's how little value the guy had to them. He couldn't even secure a job as a veteran backup.
Still, the Redskins do need a backup; if they can't re-sign Rex Grossman, the Skins would need to sign two quarterbacks. And when he's on, Tarvaris can be a playmaker. He has the arm and the legs, he just doesn't have the consistency. Shanahan has had success developing consistency before.
If he's floating out there and the Redskins need a veteran quarterback, T-Jack could end up showing up in the DMV.
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Before you scream "no," here me out.
We all know Leinart's story. The second quarterback taken in the 2006 draft, Leinart was supposed to breathe new life into the Arizona Cardinals.
Kurt Warner was supposed to be his veteran backup.
That didn't happen. Leinart got hurt. Warner played well, and Leinart never had a chance to earn his job back, until after Warner retired.
By then, the relationship between Ken Wisenhunt and Leinart had deteriorated. Leinart's party boy ways earned him a bad reputation. He didn't have the trust of the fans or the trust of his teammates, and at the end of the day, the Cardinals released him in favor of Derek Anderson.
Ultimately, Leinart ended up signing with the Houston Texans, where he was the third quarterback on the roster. Leinart is set to be a free agent at the end of the lockout, and interestingly enough, he might be a sleeper that the Redskins could consider.
No one is saying Leinart should come in and start right away, but arguably, he has the tools to be an effective quarterback, especially in Kyle Shanahan's offense. You can knock him for not having the huge arm, but as Matt Schaub has proved, you don't need the world's biggest arm to run the offense.
He'd come in and know the system and probably know most of the terminology. He's got more experience as a starter than Beck and is younger and has more upside than Beck or Rex Grossman. A season on the bench seems to have helped a bit with his maturity issues, and he seems ready to play.
If Beck is going to be the starter, he still needs to be pushed by someone, and a younger quarterback that knows the offense could certainly do that.
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Your opinion on Vince Young probably falls on two sides of the fence.
On the one hand, all the guy does is win. It's been proven that he can take mediocre football teams with no name receivers and help them make it to the playoffs. He has a solid completion percentage. He can make the plays with his leg and has a big-time arm. And he wins. Yeah, he fell out with Jeff Fisher, but Fisher didn't want Young from the start. Fisher had to be threatened to be fired to put Young on the field.
To some, a lot of Young's issues come from the extreme lack of faith that Fisher seemed to have in him, which is even sillier when you consider anytime he did get in the game, he won. I know I sound like a broken record, but that's what the guy does; he wins football games. It might not be pretty, it may not be reminiscent of Peyton Manning, but he wins games.
On the other side of things, there are those who can certainly acknowledge his physical skills and his ability to win; anyone who doesn't is fooling themselves. But, for a football team that has had a lot of big-name, free-agent acquisitions, the thought of signing VY is terrifying?
Why? Character issues.
Sure, Fisher isn't a saint in the whole feud. But Fisher isn't the one getting into fights in night clubs. Fisher isn't the guy who quit on his football team. He's immensely talented, but he's also got maturity issues. While a fresh start could be good for him, a fresh start here makes people wary, after two years of Albert Haynesworth and numerous other players with attitude problems.
This isn't to say VY is Albert. VY cares, and he wants to win. But we all have people who are fundamentally good people and who mean well, who continue to do silly and stupid things. And if Vince Young couldn't handle Jeff Fisher, how is he going to handle Mike Shanahan, a coach who is so bold that he has made a career out of benching his quarterbacks, including a fringe Hall of Fame player like Donovan McNabb?
Where do I fall?
Somewhere in the middle.
The more I've watched Young, the more I like the skill set he brings to the table. The Titans run an offense that's very similiar to our own. If he could nail down the verbage and prove to be a hard worker in practice (which, if the problems with McNabb are any indication, is a big deal with Shanahan), he probably could be very effective.
But his character issues can't---and shouldn't---be ignored. The last thing team needs is, in the middle of rebuilding, to once again find themselves in a situation where they sign another free-agent quarterback isn't the answer. The team needs as much stability as possible, and if there's any doubt that Vince Young can't be the stability they need at the quarterback position, then they need to at least consider moving on.
Mike Shanahan won't make the decision lightly. If Vince Young ends up in D.C, it'll only be after Shanahan does way more research on him than he did McNabb.
VY seems like he'd be a nice fit, but only time will tell how he'll continue to grow in the NFL.