Friday, September 2, 2011

Mike Shanahan orders Rex Grossman and John Beck to fight on

The league's saddest quarterback battle remains its tightest. After another full preseason game to evaluate Rex Grossman and John Beck, Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan is no closer to picking (or at least naming publicly) a starting quarterback.

Thursday night against the Ravens, neither quarterback did anything to stand out above the other, and perhaps more surprisingly, neither did much to hurt themselves, either. Shanny says he could wait until the day before the season opener to name a starter.

Grossman got the start Thursday night and responded pretty favorably. His final numbers won't blow your hair back -- 8 of 15, 112 yards and a touchdown -- but he played against a good starting defense that wasn't hesitant at all to blitz. Chase said it looked like the Ravens were playing the "engage eight" Madden defense against Grossman.

He especially shined in the two-minute drill. On an 80-yard drive just before the half, Grossman went 6�of 8�for 80 yards and a touchdown. He even scored the touchdown twice. Before Grossman hit Santana Moss for the TD on third and 15, he had hit Moss a couple of players earlier, but Moss couldn't complete the catch in the end zone.

Matt Bowen of the National Football Post kept an eye on Rex Thursday night, too, and offered this criticism to go along with the praise:

He isn't great in the pocket?and you could see that. Working vs. edge pressure (part of the overload blitz schemes in Baltimore), Grossman has to find ways to step up in the pocket, deliver the ball and avoid retreating with defenders in his face. He isn't going to give you a lot of movement in the pocket (or in the boot game) and that is something the 'Skins can get from Beck.

If you're looking for John Beck analysis, I'd direct you to Jon Gruden, via Dan Steinberg at the Washington Post. Steinz compiled a list of Beck-related Gruden quotes from the game, in which Gruden makes it pretty clear that he's on the Beckwagon. Here's one sample, from a play where Beck accomplished nothing more than handing the ball to Tim Hightower:

"That says a lot to me, not only about Hightower but John Beck. He came in here and got this offense going. Three plays, 80 yards, touchdown ... Phenomenal run by Hightower, but I just felt John Beck came in there and shot this place full of energy. You saw a different job in the play-calling, they took the shot, you see the stronger arm of a John Beck, you see a go route, you come back with a deep pass to the left, it sets up the defense for the running game."

So, we're pretty much in the same place we were before Thursday night's game. But that place, if you're a Redskins fan, maybe doesn't look as bad as it used to.


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