Redskins' Grossman aims to shed 'inconsistent' rap
Rex Grossman has no delusions about his reputation.
''I think I'm definitely stereotyped as an inconsistent quarterback,'' he said Wednesday, ''and I'm doing everything possible to change that perception. And the only way you can change that perception is to play consistently.''
Grossman threw for 322 yards and four touchdowns in his debut as the Washington Redskins starter, leading a 20-point second-half comeback Sunday before the Dallas Cowboys kicked a late field goal for a 33-30 victory. His rating for the game was 93.4, enough to create genuine momentum for the thought that he could return as the No. 1 quarterback next year.
But check Grossman's game-by-game history. In 2006, the year he quarterbacked the defense-heavy Chicago Bears to the NFC title, he had one four-game stretch in which his ratings yo-yoed from 101.2 to 10.2 to 137.4 to 36.8.
One week he wouldn't have an interception; the next week he'd have four. He could very well be the most maligned quarterback ever to start in a Super Bowl. His opponent that year? Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
''Any time you go 15-4 and go to the Super Bowl, you have to play well on offense and you have to play well as a quarterback,'' Grossman said. ''I think that gets overshadowed by some of the bad games I played that were nationally televised. All the talking heads could blame me because our defense was so good. That was the lightning rod of that season. And then when you have two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, what are you going to talk about? You're going to talk about how good Peyton Manning is, and you're going to talk about 'What are you going to get out of Rex Grossman?'''
2006 remains the only season in which Grossman has been a season-long NFL starter. He was benched by the Bears after just three games in 2007. He has appeared in only 39 games over eight seasons, compiling 37 touchdowns, 38 interceptions and a 70.6 rating.
''So there's not been a lot of play time to show I can be consistent,'' he said, ''and in this offense I feel I can be consistent and play at a high level each week, and not have those disastrous games I had in '06 when we got bailed out by our defense.''
Grossman had no reason to expect his chance would come with the Redskins this year, not after the team traded for Donovan McNabb in April. McNabb, however, was a disappointment and has been benched for the rest of the season. Grossman will start Sunday at Jacksonville as well as the season finale against the New York Giants. This is his chance to string together three good games to quiet the critics.
''I know that a lot of people weren't expecting a positive performance,'' Grossman said. ''And that was motivation for me to go out and prove everybody wrong. But the biggest motivation is to go out and win, and we didn't, so that was a disappointment.''
Grossman needed a few series to shake off the rust but was churning out the yards in the second half, leading three consecutive long touchdown drives. He had two first-half turnovers, one in which he did a lousy job trying to throw the ball away, and one where he was stripped while moving around in the pocket. He also threw an interception on the game's final play, but that was a desperate attempt to get the ball downfield to set up a possible game-tying field goal.
''There's always things you can improve on. I need to take care of the football,'' Grossman said. ''My main goal going into the Jacksonville game is no turnovers.''
The offense also operated at a faster pace under Grossman than it did with McNabb, in part because Grossman learned the offense last year in Houston under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
''We were able to get to the line with 18, 19 seconds left on the play clock, which allows you to make changes at the line or get a better read on who the line's going to block, or how you're going to attack a certain coverage,'' Grossman said. ''It puts more pressure on the defense.''
There was one more notable change for the receivers: Grossman doesn't throw the ball as hard as McNabb.
''Grossman has a little more touch. McNabb has a lot of zip,'' receiver Anthony Armstrong said. ''They still put it in the exact same spot, and they can make the exact same reads. The game plan was the exact same. There wasn't anything special. There's wasn't like a 'Rex package' and a 'Donovan package.' It was all the same.''
Notes: Coach Mike Shanahan, responding to comments made by McNabb on the radio, defended his handling of the quarterback's benching. McNabb on Tuesday indicated it was unprofessional for the news to be leaked ahead of time, but Shanahan tried to distance himself from the leaked reports and pointed out that at least one of the reports turned out not to be true. Shanahan also disputed McNabb's account in which the quarterback claimed not to know about his demotion to No. 3 quarterback for the final two games until Shanahan had announced it to reporters. ''I don't know how that's possible because the first person I told was him,'' Shanahan said. ''I'm not sure how that got misinterpreted.'' McNabb did not speak to reporters Wednesday. ... S Reed Doughty (concussion), DL Kedric Golston (groin), S Kareem Moore (knee) and LB Brian Orakpo (groin/hamstring) did not practice Wednesday.