Washington Redskins Tale of the Tape: Rex Grossman vs. John Beck
Positional battles in NFL training camps are one of the most entertaining facets to the summer offseason. Typically, the fight for the starting role at quarterback gets the most attention, and sports networks do their best to plaster the drama on every television set in the country.
The battle to become the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins was no different.
Although "battles" usually occur between two guys that are both worthy of actually being starters, the same can't necessarily be said about the situation in Washington.
Faced with a mediocre veteran in Rex Grossman that happens to be familiar with the offensive playbook, going up against an unproven 29-year-old with only five starts under his belt, the Washington Redskins shouldn't expect either quarterback to join the ranks of Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers or Aaron Rodgers in 2011.
However, under the culture change and foundation laying of head coach Mike Shanahan, fans are expected to take sides in the quarterback fight and jump on the bandwagon of who they believe should be their team's starter.
Consider this a soap box speech from a John Beck supporter—because he's the best thing the Redskins have for quarterback.
Age: The Old Rookie and the Seasoned Vet
John Beck was taken in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. Beck entered that season as the Dolphins' third-string quarterback.
By Week 10, and with the Dolphins posting a league-worst 0-9 record, John Beck was named the team's starter. Arguably even worse than throwing a rookie quarterback into the fire to open the year, the Dolphins made it worse by handing over a hopeless Dolphins team with very little to play for.
Beck finished his rookie season with 559 yards on 56-percent passing, one touchdown and three interceptions. Since that rookie season, Beck has not taken a single regular season snap.
Because Beck began his college career at BYU as a 22-year-old freshman, he was set to become an "old man" before his pro career even started. Although the numeric age of a player plays a big role in today's NFL, Beck seems to be the exception. Even at age 30, Beck has attempted just over 100 passes in four seasons.
On the other hand, the 31-year-old Rex Grossman has seen his fair share of regular season play. As a first-round pick of the Chicago Bears in 2003, Grossman started three games as a rookie and ended the season with a quarterback rating just shy of 75.
Grossman eventually made a name for himself in 2006 when he started all 16 games for the Bears en route to the Super Bowl. Grossman passed for over 3,100 yards that season, but threw 20 interceptions to his 23 touchdowns—ultimately ending the year with a quarterback rating of 74.
Going into his ninth year in the NFL, Grossman has started 42 games, been sacked 67 times, thrown 40 interceptions and fumbled the ball 23 times.
In terms of numeric age, the two men are similar—just a year apart. But in terms of physical age, Beck is way ahead of the smacked-around Grossman.
Arm Strength and Accuracy: Passing or Tossing?
As critical as I've been (and I'm not the only one) of Rex Grossman's arm strength, I must admit that it has looked better this past preseason. That being said, I still believe Beck presents the better arm.
Over his career, Grossman has never been an accurate quarterback—completing under 55-percent of his 1,104 pass attempts. Some may blame the weapons or arsenal surrounding Grossman during his days with Chicago, but it's not an argument that I'm buying. Instead, how about taking a look at Grossman's lack of arm strength and poor decision-making?
With just five starts and a handful or preseason games, we don't have a whole lot to go off of when evaluating Beck's arm strength. But, from what we've seen firsthand this preseason, it's easy to see that Beck has more zip on his passes and that the accuracy is attainable with an established rhythm.
Grossman has been described as a "gunslinger" on the field, similar to that of his childhood idol Brett Favre. Not that I'm 100-percent against that sort of approach to the quarterback position, but perhaps this is the reason why Rexy doesn't particularly come off to me as sexy?
John Beck, on the other hand, comes off as a college spread-style passer—with a slightly lower point of release, but a very quick motion.
Mobility: Able Mover and Lead Feet
In my opinion, it's one of the biggest differences between both Beck and Grossman, and arguably one of the most important necessities for a quarterback in Shanahan's system.
It doesn't take much game tape to realize that Grossman is almost incapable of getting out of his own way. In fact, in addition to having small hands, some analysts have stated that Grossman's turnovers (in terms of fumbles) comes by way of his choice of growing roots rather than moving away from oncoming pass-rushers.
When watching Beck play, some of his greatest assets come by way of his feet. Whether it be his ability to use the play-fake and separate from the defense, scramble for positive yardage or avoid the rush, Beck has the mobility that the Shanahans like to see.
For a self-proclaimed couch quarterback, I believe that Beck's mobility is what sets him so far apart from Grossman, at least in my mind. For an offense that loves the play-action call, and a coach that likes to have a quarterback that has the chance to pick up a couple yards with his feet, I don't think there's any question as to which guy is better suited for the position with the desired talents.
Familiarity: Wise Man and the Quick Learner
Last season, Grossman was brought on in large part because of his familiarity with Kyle Shanahan's offense, having spent a season in Houston with the young offensive coordinator.
Although Grossman was never close to being a starter over Matt Schaub in Houston, he was said to have been very comfortable in practice and knew his way around the offensive scheme very well, hence his arrival in Washington.
When the Redskins traded for Beck last offseason, he was completely new to the offense. Since Beck arrived, Mike Shanahan has commended him on his film room study and his ability to pick up things so quickly, making someone like myself believe that Beck is far from a football dummy.
Going into this season, Beck has had a year and this offseason to get accustomed to the playbook, and I'd like to think that he's comfortable with it.
The Plan: What Happens Next Season?
It's expected that the Redskins will address the quarterback position in next year's draft, perhaps even doing so with their first round pick.
Regardless of whether or not Grossman or Beck leads the Redskins to a Super Bowl, the position is a need of the future. Assuming that whoever the team takes in next year's draft won't come in and play Week 1, who will he be holding a clipboard for?
In terms of potential, John Beck has to be the the favorite, simply by default. Grossman has played eight seasons of barely mediocre football. Beck has played just five games. Naturally, Beck has more to show and prove because, unlike Grossman, his lid hasn't been completely removed.
If it were me, Beck would have this starting job, and he'd be my assumed starter for next season (barring any major screw-ups or injury). With this year under his belt, I'd like to assume he'd become more familiar with the playbook and possibly even improve. In that sort of scenario, I'll take John Beck over Rex Grossman in the so-called shortened long-term.
Conclusion: Grossman Named Redskins Starter
According to NFL.com, the Washington Redskins have named Rex Grossman the team's starter for Week 1.
This is obviously against my wishes for the Redskins, and I would imagine it's against the hopes of a couple other fans as well, but we should trust the coaching staff that's intact.
Personally, I feel that Grossman serves as the Redskins' worst case scenario, while John Beck serves as the unknown. We all know what Grossman can do because we've seen him do it for eight years. But how will we ever know what Beck is if he's never given the shot?
However, with this latest report, I will say that this situation presents the possibility that Grossman is relieved of his duties and Beck is placed in the starter's seat at some point this season. In a situation where Beck started Week 1, I believe a benching due to poor play would be the closest thing to career suicide for the guy.
Regardless of the starter at quarterback, Redskins Nation will support the product that's put on the field by a coaching staff that most people trust. But, unless Grossman steps in and blows the door off FedEx Field with Pro Bowl-caliber play, Beck isn't far behind.