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Shanahan names Rex Grossman Redskins’ Week 1 starter

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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Washington Redskins fans … the preseason quarterback battle that kept you on the edge of your seat has officially been resolved. Multiple reports indicate that head coach Mike Shanahan decided that the "battle royale" between Rex Grossman and John Beck went in Grossman's favor, and he will be the Week 1 starter.

"I just thought it was the best thing," Shanahan said after Monday practice. "If we knew what direction we were going to go, [we wanted] to let everybody know and let everybody know so on Wednesday we can focus on the Giants and not all the speculation that goes on in between. I wanted to take as long as I possibly could to make sure that I did make the right decision. But [it] was very competitive, and I like where we're at."

Shanahan, who is most famous for winning two Super Bowls in the late 1990s with John Elway under center, has said that he will "stake his reputation" on the plan to evaluate Grossman and Beck as the Redskins' quarterback future, but preseason results brought limited returns. Grossman looked occasionally overwhelmed under pressure even when faced with less-complex defenses, and Beck didn't show much at all.

"Everything he does," the coach said about why his new starter is his new starter. "It's a big evaluation process; 7-on-7 [drills], check-offs, audibles, blitzes. All in all, I thought he did a great job. I thought John did too. But I thought Rex won by an inch."

Neither player tore it up from a productivity perspective in the preseason — Grossman went 34 of 53 for 407 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, and Beck completed 30 passes in 48 attempts for 356 yards, one touchdown and two picks.

Grossman, for all his subpar career play, isn't lacking confidence. He's said flat-out that the Redskins — presumably with him at quarterback — will win the Redskins' division.

"We're just waiting in the wings ready to take over the NFC East," he said in early August. "Nobody's talking about us, it's right where we want to be.  You look at us from top to bottom out here, there's a bunch of great players.   And we don't need people saying we're the best right now.  But when it's all said and done, I really feel like this team's gonna win the [NFC] East."

While Shanahan believes that Beck has better athletic ability, it's certainly true that Grossman brings more regular-season experience. He also has more experience in Shanahan's offense, having replaced Donovan McNabb late in the 2010 season and completing 74 of 133 passes for 884 yards and four touchdowns, with three interceptions.

Still, Shanahan says that he has faith in both passers -- it could be a week-to-week decision process.

"I've said from day one, anytime you've got confidence in two quarterbacks, it's pretty good in the National Football League, and that's what I have right now," Shanahan said. "It's going to be fun. It's going to be fun now that we can get going. We have two quarterbacks that we've got a lot of confidence in, and hopefully they play accordingly."

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