ASHBURN - The topic du jour around Redskins Park Wednesday was predictably the announcement of a quarterback change, one that saw incumbent starter Rex Grossman lose his job to backup John Beck. Many Redskins players chimed in on the decision, from receivers to running backs to the two passers themselves, but the man who ultimately made the decision, head coach Mike Shanahan spoke at length Wednesday about his decision to go with Beck.
Shanahan removed Grossman in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game against the Eagles in favor of Beck, who Shanahan believed performed admirably given the situation.
“No. 1, I thought John did a good job with three of our [offensive] starters out in the fourth quarter against Philadelphia," Shanahn said of Beck's performance Sunday. "To come in a situation when they knew we had to throw the football — he had nine first downs. ... He impressed with that. [We] put a lot of pressure on him in that situation."
But Shanahan's decision did not come from Beck's performance against the Eagles alone. It came after weeks of solid practice from Beck, not to mention Grossman's penchant for turning the football over, doing so 11 times in five games.
"I like the way [Beck] has been practicing the last few weeks. He’s done a good job in practice and I think he deserves the opportunity for us to see what he can do.”
Grossman beat out Beck for the starting job at the conclusion of training camp, which means Beck has been getting scout team reps the last six weeks. But despite that, Shananan seems to feel as though Beck has come along in the last month and a half to warrant a change.
“Well, I think right now that he’s more comfortable with the system," Shanahan said. "He was out for that week [in training camp] . Like I said, I like the way he’s practiced. Rex didn’t quite have the same practices as he did earlier – as I spoke to Rex. It’s a constant evaluation and you have to go with your gut."
One of the issues Beck will have to deal with moving forward is working with a re-shuffled offensive line, one that has been bit by the injury bug with injuries to guard Kory Lichtensteiger (knee) and tackle Trent Williams (high ankle sprain). Because of those issues, Beck's mobility looks to be an asset with a group up front that could struggle in the next few weeks.
"I think a big plus for John is his mobility," said Shanahan. "He’s a 4.7 [40-yard dash] guy. He can make plays with his feet [and] he has a good command for the offense."
As for Grossman, Shanahan informed his now backup quarterback of the decision earlier in the week, highlighting the importance of securing the football.
"That’s what I talked to Rex about. I said, ‘hey, to keep that position, quarterback in the NFL, you have to eliminate those mistakes'," said Shanahan of his meeting with Grossman. "You can’t constantly turn the football over. If you do, you’re going to lose your opportunity to lead the football team."
But the biggest issue moving forward for Shanahan and the Redskins seems to be the fact that the team has yet to find a starting caliber quarterback in his tenure in Washington. With Beck, the team will turn to its third starting quarterback in less than two seasons.
Despite that, when Shanahan was asked if he believes the 30 year old Beck could be the answer at the position for the present and the future, his answer was pretty simple.
"I don't think there's any question about it."