Redskins throw the switch at QB

Redskins throw the switch at QB
October 19, 2011, 1:18 pm
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UPDATED 5:40 p.m.

Training camp was one practice old in late July when Redskins coach Mike Shanahan left himself open for beaucoup criticism when he proclaimed extreme confidence in quarterbacks Rex Grossman and John Beck.

I believe in those guys, he said. Ive been doing this a long time, and I put my reputation on these guys that they can play.

Hes 0-for-1 and really, since he became the Redskins coach, hes 0-for-2, having whiffed on Donovan McNabb.

Shanahan informed Grossman he was benched after five games in favor of Beck. The team learned of the switch during a Wednesday morning meeting.

Grossman departs with a 3-2 record but nine interceptions (tied for the league lead), two lost fumbles and a declining passer rating. He was initially yanked after throwing four interceptions against Philadelphia.

On Sunday, Beck will be making his first regular-season start in four years and only the fifth of his career.

I thought John did a good job with three of our starters out, to come into a situation where they knew we had to throw the football, Shanahan said after practice. We put a lot of pressure on him in that situation. And I like the way hes practiced the last few weeks.

He deserves the opportunity for us to see what he can do.

That fourth-quarter performance (8-of-15 passing for 117 yards), combined with a patchwork offensive line that will require the quarterback to be more mobile and Grossmans tailed-off practice performances and Eagles debacle, forced Shanahan to make Beck the Redskins 21st different starting quarterback in 19 years.

Definitely excited, Beck said. Theres been a lot of hard work thats gone into this. You never know when this opportunity will come, but you have to stay ready.

Shanahan said: Ive got a lot of confidence in John Beck because he does have that mobility and a strong arm. Im not going to put him in the Hall of Fame yet, but I do believe he has a lot of talent.

Grossmans leash was five games. Can a 30-year-old Beck be a viable long-term option?

I dont think theres any question, Shanahan said. It doesnt matter if youre 30. He has experience. He still has his speed.

Another quarterback change wasnt met with shock in the Redskins locker room. Receiver Santana Moss will be playing with his seventh different quarterback since coming to Washington.

Hes a very talented QB that really hasnt gotten a shot to prove who he can be in this league, Moss said. Hes one of those guys who wants to prove himself.

Running back Tim Hightower said: This sends a very loud message to the rest of the guys on offense that, Hey, get your stuff together and not later, now.

Becks only other chance really wasnt one he took over a dismal Miami team that finished with a 1-15 record.

The situation I stepped into as a rookie was a difficult one, he said. We were winless, the organization had been through a lot of struggles that year. This team has a good feeling about it. On game day, we feel good about the situation. Thats different than the one I was in.

The Redskins situation is a game over .500 with three of the next four games on the road.

Shanahans "reputation" quote during the preseason was a stunner considering Grossman and Beck didnt exactly join with the Redskins with a dossier of consistent play. Grossman reached the Super Bowl mostly due to Chicagos defense; Beck has never won a regular-season game.

If Shanahan drops to 0-for-3 on the quarterback front, it merely creates another off-season priority.

That first year when I came here, I needed to make a decision with Jason Campbell and Donovan McNabb, he said. I went with Donovan. Took a shot. There wasnt a whole lot out there at the time. Obviously, that didnt work out, but I wasnt going to keep him here for 3-4 years. I believe in both these guys. Its always a tough decision to make.

Contact OHalloran at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com.