When Jason Reid writes something, he believes it.
When Jason Reid writes something, I usually believe it, too.
That said, I have a very hard time believing the recent story by Jason telling us all that the starting quarterback job is John Beck's to lose. I don't have an undercover anonymous source and I promise you I know less than Jason Reid when it comes to the world of professional journalism. (I happen to think very highly of Jason...I am sure the feeling is...uhhh...who am I kidding, Jason couldn't pick me out of a lineup.)
This is purely a tea leaves reading kind of post. I have been telling everyone who will listen for the last four months that Rex Grossman is the guy the Shanahans want under center and that any talk of a legit competition is simply lip service. I continue to believe this despite reports of Mike Shanahan's high opinion of John Beck.
I think you can successfully argue both sides of this thing, but here are my reasons for thinking the contest is--as Reid suggests--"fixed" and why I think this job is and has always been Rex's to lose.
Let's gloss over a few of the obvious points first. Rex has been with Kyle Shanahan since Houston and the two are very much on the same page with regard to Kyle's offensive philosophy. In his last year in Houston and his first year in Washington, it has been argued that Rex grasped the offense better than the starter (Matt Schaub in Houston and Donovan McNabb in Washington.) When it came time to play for the future, it was Rex Grossman that got the starts in garbage time last year and the fact that he was brought back for the 2011 season is at least partly an indication that the coaching staff thought he performed well enough to deserve some love.
Rex Grossman is exactly what Kyle and Mike Shanahan want on the field: a player who will likely do EVERY SINGLE thing he is told to do. Kyle can operate Rex like a video game character straight out of Madden. Then again, John Beck is probably just as likely to do what he's told as well. But given that Rex and Kyle have been together now for going on three years, they are farther along in the mind-meld process than Beck and Kyle.
When Mike Shanahan indicated that John Beck was or could be the "guy" for the Redskins in 2011, he kicked the lockout right off of the front page. We all went nuts. The Shanahans had been lusting after Beck since his BYU days we were told. His maturity, intellect and work ethic endeared him to the coaches. And then John Beck started doing interviews. Personally, I think Shanahan knew all along what kind of animal he was unleashing when he told the world John Beck could very well be the starter in 2011. Shanahan is no dummy, and we know this. He totally controlled the media for a stretch there, and it was diabolically brilliant.
This Redskins team is clearly rebuilding, and neither Rex Grossman nor John Beck is likely to be the long-term solution at quarterback. Both of these guys could provide the Shanahans with a comfortable option at quarterback as long as they are the coaches here, assuming that they will be around for at least the next few years. Both players are about 30 years old, which would preclude either one from being a natural choice to be a "quarterback of the future." Both of these guys have also been working their way down the "backup" path in the league for the last few years. My point is that we all kind of agree that sooner or later--probably sooner--Bruce Allen is going to draft a stud signal caller to don the mantle of "Savior" for the burgundy and gold.
I think part of this riddle involves how you think we will attack that specific task. While losing is definitely not a priority for the Shanahans, creating a situation where the lumps we take lead to a top draft pick is a very real possibility, and one you would never hear anyone admit to in Ashburn.
I would like to hypothesize that if Bruce Allen wants to select one of the top quarterbacks in the draft next season, he will make that happen regardless of what our Win/Loss record--and corresponding draft pick--ends up being. So perhaps Mike Shanahan is not using John Beck to get him closer to Andrew Luck. And if Shanny is not going to run with the quarterback that gives him the best chance of losing, you would assume he is going to use the quarterback that gives him the best chance of getting wins.
That quarterback is Rex Grossman.
There is also the issue of having a quarterback on the staff who is intimately familiar with the system and can be instrumental in helping bring a rookie up to speed. Assuming both Beck and Grossman remain on the roster this season, it is possible that both of these men could potentially be capable of this task. That could be the real competition and the only undecided aspect of the quarterback battle royale.
But don't we have to keep coming back to the fact that Rex Grossman has been to the Super Bowl, has played at a high level in this league and is super best friends with Kyle Shanahan? Sure, you have to have a competition to make people happy--especially when you have a roster full of young, unproven players. And you can also argue that John Beck could potentially win the job. Until he takes his starter's snaps against Indy, we really won't have a firm grasp of his potential on this team (though the coaches surely have an idea already.)
I believe that the logical conclusion here is that Rex Grossman--the hand-picked and personally groomed quarterback of our current offensive coordinator--is already the starting quarterback on this team. I believe that John Beck is respected and revered by our coaches as a hard worker and a smart player, but there is very little to suggest that he is better than Rex in this system or even better than Rex as an NFL player. Rex has even matched Beck's ridiculous statement generator by suggesting we can win the NFC East.
So if you're keeping track, I agree with Jason Reid that this is not a real competition. I agree with Jason Reid that the coaches have made up their minds who the starter is going to be in 2011. I disagree about who that player is...
Let the Rex Grossman era begin!