Monday, December 20, 2010 2:00 PM
By Rich Tandler
REDSKINS PAGE REDSKINS VIDEO
Quick take There was an episode of the old Mary Tyler Moore Show when Mary, the main character, stepped outside of her normal role in the fictional WJZ newsroom and produced a news special. When she asked Lou Grant, her gruff boss, for his opinion of the show, he delighted Mary by saying exactly what she had hoped he would say: It didnt totally stink. Thats my take on Rex Grossmans performance on Sunday. You have to get him credit for completing 58 percent of his passes, gaining a respectable 7.5 yards per attempt, posting a 93.4 passer rating and for throwing four touchdown passes to rally the Redskins from a 27-7 deficit to tie the game at 30-30. At the same time, you have to ding him for the three turnovers. An interception and a lost fumble set up Dallas touchdowns and a final interception snuffed out the Redskins last gasp. Because, in the opinion of all of the smartest people in the NFL media room, Grossman was going to be an abject disaster out there, not totally stinking was a positive for Grossman. Yes, the Redskins lost and, as pointed out above, Grossman contributed to the loss with those turnovers. But the special teams, especially the coverage units, and the defense, which gave up 434 yards and forced no turnovers, certainly bear a good part of the responsibility as well. This was just one game. It doesnt mean that Grossman will be the teams quarterback next year or even that he will be on the team in 2011. He could throw three pick sixes against the Jaguars and then everyone will have a good laugh. Or maybe he wont totally stink his way into the starting job. Should the NFL Network apologize? It is one thing to predict that a team will get blown out in a given game and to have that team win the game. That is part of the deal and the team that was predicted to lose certainly is owed no apology. But how about when you accuse a team of trying to throw a game and that team turns out to be every competitive, rallying from a 20-point deficit only to lose on a field goal in the last minute of play? Should those who expressed that opinion be expected to retract their statements? The following exchange occurred Sunday morning on the NFL Networks GameDay Morning show. Around the table were host Rich Eisen and analysts Marshall Faulk, Steve Mariucci, Warren Sapp, and Michael Irvin. Eisen set up the piece by discussing some of McNabbs statistics on the season and by reiterating an earlier report by reporter Michael Lombardi that the Redskins are planning to take a quarterback early in the 2011 draft. Here is what followed (all emphasis added): Eisen: Lets extrapolate Michael Lombardis point out, Marshall. He says that theyre ready to draft a quarterback and that benching McNabb is in preparation for drafting that quarterback. Does that mean that they benched McNabb to get higher in the draft order? Is that what this could possibly mean? Faulk: Thats exactly (trails off) Its like a playoff team resting their starters because they have their position. Theyre resting McNabbbenchingbecause those five wins, thats all they want. Five wins, eleven losses, that might put you in the top five . . . If they can get in the top five, there are a lot of good quarterbacks thats coming out this year. Is that throwing games? I dont know (giggles). But if you understand that Donovan gives you a better chance to win and you start Rex and John Beck is second, and Donovan is third, youre sending a crazy message not just to your fans and to your team but definitely to us. Irvin then said that is makes sense to try out Grossman, although he didnt like the way it was done. Then Sapp talked about Shanahan saying that he had landed the perfect quarterback for his system in McNabb. Sapp: . . . They sold us a dream . . . Right now, theyre tanking the season and looking for a top-five pick. Marshall, you are right, you are dead right. So, there you have it. Three of the five experts on the set say or strongly imply that the Redskins and Mike Shanahan were playing Rex Grossman in order to lose games intentionally. That isnt taking a shot at the Redskins competence which, at 5-9, is fair game. But accusing them of lying down, of intentionally losing games, is a shot at their integrity. Under some circumstances you can go to jail for throwing games. Im sure that Mike Shanahan couldnt care less about what a bunch of guys sitting around a table on a Sunday morning have to say about him. But I thought that I would make some folks aware of the exchange to keep in mind the next time that these or some other talking heads take shots at peoples integrity based on nothing more than suppositioin. Armstrong a AAA-grade receiver Wide receiver Anthony Armstrong was one of the reasons why Grossman was able to be productive on Sunday. Armstrong had his best day in the NFL, catching five passes for 100 yards. By now, everyone knows the Armstrong story, the days with the Odessa Outlaws of the Intense Football League and practicing on an asphalt parking lot because the circus was in town. He started to catch the attention of the media assembled at OTAs and minicamps last spring as he caught nearly everything thrown in his direction. It was a feel-good story when Armstrong, who had bounced around NFL practice squads after his indoor league days, made the 53-man roster in September as a 27-year-old rookie. Now Armstrongs story has gone beyond human interest and has moved into being a legitimate football story. Hidden behind all of the Redskins soap operas involving McNabb and Albert Haynesworth is the fact that Armstrong is having a heck of a season. On the year, Armstrong has 40 receptions. He is 28th in the NFL with 772 yards receiving. Armstrongs average of 19.3 yards per catch is third in the league among players with at least 20 receptions. Among rookie receivers he is second in yards only to Mike Williams of Tampa Bay. With his performance on Sunday, Armstrong moved past Rod Gardner into fourth place on the teams all-time list for rookie receiving yards. He needs just 25 more yards to pass Art Monk (797 in 1980) and 17 more after that to surpass Charley Taylor (814 in a 14-game 1964 season). The teams rookie record is held by Gary Clark, who gained 926 yards in 1985. You can reach Rich by email at RTandlerCSN@comcast.net and follow him on Twitter @RealRedskins. Join Rich Tandler for an in-game chat during the Redskins-Jaguars game on Sunday. Things will get underway on www.CSNwashington.com shortly before kickoff at 12:45 Eastern and continue all game long.