John Beck vs. Rex Grossman is a quarterback controversy in a city known for having them, so why is it so difficult to get passionate about Mike Shanahan's ultimate decision?
At some point in the next few hours, Washington Redskins fans will discover whether John Beck or Rex Grossman will start at quarterback against the Carolina Panthers. It'll break when Adam Schefter tweets the news in the morning. Later, Shanahan himself will confirm it, saying whichever player he picks gave his team the best chance to win and reiterating his belief in both. Some media member will reference all the quarterback controversies of years past and make some sort of comparison. (Wait, that already happened).
UPDATE: Beck has been named the starter, according to -- you guessed it -- Adam Schefter.
And I will shrug.
Honestly, I'm having a lot of trouble getting too passionate about this whole "controversy." Perhaps I'm alone, but I suspect I'm not. For the most part, I don't think Redskins fans have much of a preference between Grossman and Beck. There aren't a legion of #TeamRex folks fighting against #TeamBeck folks. Mostly, the whole quarterback issue is a story everyone needs to try to make significant, but really isn't that huge of a thing.
Just to be clear: I don't blame anyone for this. The Redskins are the biggest team in town, and quarterback is the biggest position on the football field. Media members can't not write about this. That said, as far as quarterback controversies go, this one is pretty snooze worthy.
For me at least, the issue was pretty much settled with the Donovan McNabb fiasco. That was legitimately infuriating. The whole charade of trading two high draft picks for an over-the-hill player, then realizing that -- shocker! -- he didn't want to change the way he played that made him so successful was the real reason we're now deciding between Rex Grossman and John Beck. The Redskins had precious little leeway to find much better for this season, unless they wanted to pick Blaine Gabbert at No. 10 (I'll take Ryan Kerrigan instead, thanks), move up for Andy Dalton in the second round or trade for Carson Palmer (nice trade, Raiders!).
But the McNabb thing was last year. Eventually, there comes a point where the same reality isn't worth repeating. That's kind of where I'm at with the Beck/Grossman thing. No matter who Shanahan chooses, it won't be anything close to what he figured he would get when he traded for McNabb. With McNabb struggling even more in Minnesota, it's becoming harder to even envision the McNabb that Shanahan thought he was getting.
So instead, the Redskins are essentially choosing between a guy who we know is really bad (11 turnovers in four games for Grossman is - wow) and a guy who is probably really bad, but has a small chance of being something slightly better than really bad. I'd say more here, but Jack Kogod and Brian Murphy said it better than I could. As Kogod writes, Beck is the same guy who couldn't beat out Grossman in the preseason. As Murphy writes, Beck's defining quality is that he's not Grossman. Excited yet?
Rarely does a team's starting quarterback not matter, but this might be one of those rare cases. No matter what happens this season, two things have become clear with the Redskins. First, the defense can keep them in games no matter how abysmal the offense is. Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles wasn't their best performance, and they still held the high-powered Eagles' offense to 20 points. Second, unless there's a side of Beck we haven't seen, no quarterback on the roster can win games all by himself. Knowing this, is it really worth going crazy over the decision Shanahan ultimately makes?
Personally, I'd start Beck, because the small chance of him being not awful is greater than the zero percent chance that Grossman can be. Making a playoff run was always seen as a huge bonus in my head, so the argument that Shanahan needs to maintain continuity and stand behind Grossman doesn't hold much weight to me. But if Shanahan does choose to stick with Grossman, it's not like the reality of the franchise's future has been altered much. As Martin wrote yesterday, the long-term answer to the quarterback position is probably in college right now. That's what concerns me far more than what the Redskins decide to do on October 19.
When that happens, count me excited. Until then, whatever.