Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. Just yesterday, we begged for a win like a hopeful child. Today the jolly old elf, and the Washington Redskins defense, delivered. The Redskins jumped to an early lead, and then held on to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-17.
Rex Grossman played part two of his three game audition to be Redskins starting quarterback role. Redskins Hog Heaven is grading his performance over those games on four benchmarks discussed below. We graded Sexy Rexy B+ for his performance last week against the Dallas Cowboys. How did he do today?
Complete 70 percent of his passes. A 48.7 percent completion ratio counts as a fail. But, a large part of that rests in the hands of Chris Cooley. Usually reliable Capt. Chaos dropped four properly delivered passes. Assigning those drops as completions would have boosted Grossman's day to 58.9 percent completions, his average for the season.
The premise of the 70 percent benchmark is that Grossman cannot claim the starting roll unless his performance is 20 percent better than Donovan McNabb's 58.3 percent of passes completed. If McNabb's performance was not acceptable at that level, then Grossman offers nothing more at the same level, except that he is not Donovan McNabb.
Grossman's performance rates a D+, but we are going to take account of the swirling wind conditions that bedeviled the quarterbacks for both teams. Fairness demands that we factor Cooley's drops. Grade - C
Pass for 911 yards over three starts. Rexy surprised everyone last week when he threw for 322 yards against Dallas. He added a mere 182 yards against Jacksonville. Passes dropped by Cooley diminished Grossman's yardage by about 20 yards by my estimate. Kyle Shanahan's game plan called for more passes to backs (8) and tight ends (15) perhaps because of weather conditions. You expect those passes to be for shorter yards than to wide receivers. In 21st Century football, anything less that 200 passing yards just doesn't look right.
Grossman's distance is less than McNabb's per game average. David Garrard passed for 299 yards, 7.9 yards per attempt, against a stout Redskins defense. The comparisons do not compliment Grossman. Grade - D+
Throw at least two touchdowns and not more than one interception. This one is easy. Grossman met two of three requirements, one touchdown, and not more than one interception. Nice comeback to Fred Davis to score when Cooley dropped a sure touchdown on the prior play. Grade - B
Beat the Jaguars. This win was all about the Redskins defense defeating a Jaguars offense impaired by the loss of Maurice Jones-Drew. Grossman got help from the rushing game at the right time in the fourth quarter. He didn't do enough to win the game, but he did nothing to lose it. Wins and losses count to quarterbacks and coaches. That's just the way it is. Grade - A
Overall Grade - C+
Last Week - B+
Two Game Grade - B
Points after: We put these benchmarks together to analyze Grossman's performance in an objective fashion rather than emotional rants about Washington's quarterback drama. Only now are we starting to ask how good is good enough for Grossman to replace McNabb. Mike Shanahan should have more measures than these four to guide his decision. One of those measures ought to be whether or not McNabb would have done better.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that McNabb will seek his release from Washington at the end of the season. McNabb told CBS Sports Pete Prisco that he knows nothing about such reports. (Sgt. Schultz pops into mind for some reason.) If we've learned anything about the "shirt" swirling around the Redskins, it is not to discount reports about what's going on around the Redskins. Neither Shanahan nor McNabb are forthcoming about what they really feel. That's a problem in relationships (trust me on that).
Everyone would understand if McNabb demanded to be released. There is no reason for Washington to let him walk until they're certain about their quarterback situation. Even fans who have given up on McNabb would like to see the Redskins treat him with some degree of class. If McNabb wants to go he should be open about it and build some fan support. Or he should just shut his people up and negotiate his buyout in private.
But, who is Schefter's source that Shanahan cannot shut off? Schefter won't say. I figure it has to be someone who speaks with Shanahan's blessing, as Dick Cheney did for W, or someone who has absolutely no fear of getting on Shanahan's bad side.
That's a lot of fodder to chew on in the long offseason.