Published November 20, 2014
NFL coaches make more decisions than one can imagine.
From who starts at quarterback down to who'll be the wedge-busters on special teams, some coaches probably make themselves surly by week's end and others even more sullen with the choices they're required to make.
Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan hasn't done much with his time with the organization besides shuffling through starting quarterbacks. Shanahan has established his own carousel ever since owner Daniel Snyder lured him to the nation's capital prior to the 2010 season and may have taken a page from 1990's rap group Black Sheep in terms of flip-flopping from one decision to the next.
Part of the chorus for the duo's hit "The choice is yours" is as follows: "You can get with this, or you can get with that. I think you'll go with this, cuz this is where it's at."
Shanahan hasn't figured out where it's at in terms of keeping a starting quarterback confident in his abilities. Veteran Donovan McNabb got to see that first-hand last season and Rex Grossman, who took over for the No. 2 overall pick in the 1999 draft following McNabb's offseason trade to Minnesota, is getting a taste of what it feels like to have that carrot dangling in front of his face.
Grossman was Shanahan's "this" factor at the beginning of the season and started the first five games, completing 92-of-165 passes for 1,132 yards, six touchdowns, nine interceptions and two fumbles. Shanahan had seen enough from the turnover-prone signal-caller, however, and opted to make John Beck his "that" aspect. Beck didn't produce enough results to remain as the starter, though as he was intercepted four times and sacked 14 in three winless outings.
Beck took over for Grossman in a 20-13 loss versus Philadelphia on Oct. 16, when Washington's 3-1 start began to fade away. The Redskins haven't won since, with Sunday's 20-9 loss in Miami the team's fifth straight defeat.
Shanahan may have been spoiled from his days with the Denver Broncos, when he had a Hall of Fame quarterback in John Elway. He may be better off now with former Elway backups like Gary Kubiak, Tommy Maddox or Bubby Brister, but instead set the revolving-quarterback perch back to Grossman before the game with the Dolphins. Grossman said he was excited for the opportunity despite taking only half of the reps in practice and passed for 215 yards with two interceptions, including one in the red zone.
"I gotta be more careful with the ball," he said after the loss. "We moved the ball pretty well but didn't get it in the end zone. I felt good going into this game. I wish I could have delivered today."
Grossman added that he's "just here to play" and is frustrated with his team's 3-6 record. How can someone not be frustrated when their head coach gains and loses confidence in a player's ability more often than Lady Gaga switches wardrobes?
Grossman is on a need-to-know basis and said he can read between the lines when it comes to Shanahan shuffling his lineup like a deck of cards. A perfect example of that is when Shanahan started his postgame press conference saying he intended to stick with Beck against Miami, but ultimately decided that Grossman gave the Redskins the best chance to win.
Shanahan will meet with his coaching staff this week to evaluate and decide who gives the team the best shot at prevailing with the Dallas Cowboys scheduled to invade FedEx Field this Sunday. Based on what happens during the week, injuries and the upcoming opponent are some aspects that will be taken into account for the Redskins, whose present losing streak is the club's longest since 2001.
When asked about the current slide and the 3-6 record, Shanahan said it has been frustrating and disappointing.
"We're going to make the decision what goes on during the week, who we're going against, how they practice, injuries -- all those types of things," Shanahan said following the Miami loss.
The pending decision will have an impact on either quarterback's belief in their skills, and it all depends on who Shanahan feels is the right choice for that week. It's not a healthy way to approach the situation, however, and it admits that the Redskins are lacking a solid No. 1 at the position.
Picking Grossman as the starter again could be where it's at against a Dallas team that has won two straight and three of its last four games. The Cowboys edged the Redskins, 18-16, back in Week 3 when Grossman passed for 250 yards with a touchdown and an interception during his first stint as Washington's starter.
Grossman said during the summer that Washington has a good shot at winning the NFC East. Now he's just trying to earn the trust from the coaching staff.