Monday, August 9, 2010

Redskins position preview: Quarterbacks

Confidence Level: 6.5 out of 10

We are almost done with the 2010 positional previews, and today we finally get around to the quarterbacks.  Back in July this was my original pick for the quarterbacks from my 53 man roster projection.  Clearly it has been overtaken by events, although swapping out new acquisition John Beck for new Raider Colt Brennan in the #3 spot is the only change.

Quarterbacks (3 Keepers)
Keepers: Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman, Colt Brennan
Cut: Richard Bartel

Donovan McNabb is in town, and represents a significant upgrade over Jason Campbell.  When the protection breaks down – and it will – McNabb will see it coming and buy just enough time to make a play. We have a serious upgrade here both in terms of pocket presence and recognizing the defense before the snap.  He is still mobile enough to execute Shanahan’s beloved rollouts and bootlegs to perfection.  When the play-calling works, McNabb will be more likely to capitalize on it with a much more accurate deep ball than Redskins fans are used to seeing.  Importantly, he has been consistently productive in the past despite spending most of his career with a mediocre wide receiver corps.

There are flaws of course.  He has never been terribly accurate and has relied upon his ability to keep plays alive and make something out of nothing.  And he is going to have mysterious bouts of extreme inaccuracy in which he misses open receivers badly for whole games at a time. This is going to happen and we may as well mentally prepare ourselves for it now.

But while McNabb may not be elite, he is certainly above average and an ideal quarterback for Mike Shanahan's offense.

Between his age, injury history, and still shaky offensive line, it is a near certainty that McNabb will miss a game or two.  The likely prospect of Rex Grossman entering a game is, to say the least, worrisome. He may have the arm strength and be capable of occasional pretty throws, but at no point with the Bears did he demonstrate anything close to the decision-making ability expected of a NFL quarterback. Kyle Shanahan knows him well and brought him in for a reason, so he must trust that Grossman can execute his system – but hopefully if Grossman has to come into a game the running game will be working well enough that we won’t have to rely on him.

There is probably not much of a competition for the #3 job, now that the Shanahans have gone to the trouble of trading for John Beck. He is certainly an intriguing prospect, but keep in mind he is not exactly a young developmental type - despite being in only his fourth NFL season, he is already 28 years old. 

Since the coaches clearly have a bit of a crush on Beck, Rich Bartel looks a lot like a guy who is just a “camp arm.” I wouldn’t make too much out of the fact that they elected to keep him over Colt Brennan. Colt was told he was being released early because he has the talent to play in the NFL and they wanted to give him a chance to sign elsewhere. I am inclined to take them at their word - the release may really have been a reflection of his superior abilities, for which they had no further use.  Bartel, however, needed to be kept around so they had enough quarterbacks in camp to run the receiver drills. 

The only real questions are if Beck actually has a chance to push Grossman for #2, or if Beck is necessarily even guaranteed a roster spot. The case could be made that the Redskins still may go with two quarterbacks.  After all, in the trade they only gave up a cornerback (Doug Dutch) who was almost certain to get cut anyway.  Nonetheless the team seems intrigued enough by Beck that I think he is quite likely to end up on the roster.

In the next and final position preview, we will take a look at special teams. 

Previous position previews:

Defensive line
Defensive backs
Offensive line
Running backs
Wide receivers
Tight ends


  1. Well I guess this article already has a whole shot through it with Brennan getting cut, and Bartel looking really good to be the #3 QB. Can't win 'em all...

  2. Hey I don't mean to get snippy but did you read it? First thing I say is that the roster projection is reproduced from what I posted in mid-July, then go on to discuss the switch from Brennan to John Beck...

    And what is your basis for think Bartel has such a lead over Beck for #3?

  3. If Brennan has "superior abilities", they would have kept him to at least be on scout. It's not unusual for a new regime of coaches to overhaul the QB corp to be more in line with their offensive system, especially when it's weak to begin with. As Shananhan has said, they always had an interest in they would probably have traded Brennan for Beck if it were an option. However, I believe they were doing the cool thing in releasing him asap, so he can play somewhere else, since he wasn't going to get the number of reps he needs. The guy hasn't played in a year. So, no surprise he's behind everyone else.