FILM SESSIONS: REX GROSSMAN’S HORRIBLE PRESEASON GAME WAS ACTUALLY PRETTY DECENT

I wish I knew why people hate Rex Grossman.

I mean, legitimately hate. Like, curse his very existence kind of hate. I get that people aren’t fans of his style of play or his turnover prone ways. And those are legitimate concerns. But the mere sight of Rex Grossman in a Redskins uniform engenders the kind of hatred usually reserved for people you know in real life. Rex has been here since 2010, and in 3 seasons he’s never said a bad word about the fans, the team, or the organization. The guys in the locker room love him, the coaches really like him (enough to the point where he’s a near lock to be a coach sometime when he wants to stop playing), and both Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins have expressed how helpful it was to have Grossman on the sideline in their rookie years.

And yet the mere sight of seeing Rex Grossman in uniform sends people into a frothing rage. I distinctly remember people complaining about Rex having to suit up when Robert sat out the Cleveland game; the contempt and annoyance over Rex just being active and in uniform drove people up a wall. The same happened when Rex was active versus Dallas and versus Seattle. Even when Rex has zero chance of playing, people would sooner smash their own skulls in than see #8 anywhere close to the field.

Andbutso, the big story of the preseason, in light of Pat White playing an average game of pitch and catch versus guys who will be working at Best Buy come September, became how bad Rex looked in comparison. How poor his mechanics were, how he could never handle the rush, how he was just plain the most awful quarterback who was ever awful at quarterbacking.

But how bad was he really?

Not as bad as you think. And I know full and well that I’m going to prove you wrong, and you’ll still hate Rex. But maybe a few of you will carefully reconsider thinking his preseason performance was leaps and bounds more terrible than Pat White’s.

The first, immediate take away from Rex’s first two drives in the game, was that both of them came with most of, if not all of, the Titas starting defense still on the field. Much of the huffing, puffing, eye-rolling and name calling about Rex’s abject horribleness is borne out of these two drives, in which the second string offensive line was (rightfully) bullied by the Titans starting defense. Rex basically had no time to set and throw on either of those drives, which makes people’s objections to them really heavy handed at best and completely ignorant of what actually happened in the game at worst.

When the Titans starters leave, that’s when we see Rex start to have a little more time in the pocket. Pinned on their own goal line with 11:32 in the second quarter, Rex hits a nice pass off play action to Josh Morgan on the crossing route. On his next pass attempt, he delivers a perfect ball to Aldrick Robinson off play action, but Al flat drops it after it hits him in his chest. On his next drop back, Rex has zero time again as Tom Compton can’t handle the speed rush of linebacker Greg Jones. Rex thinks about throwing it to Hankerson but see a corner in the area, and then takes the sack.

On the next drive, Rex get a short completion off the bootleg to Hankerson. On his next drop back, Rex starts left, looking at the routes for Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen. He works back right and finds Hankerson, who was working out of the slot on the whip route. Rex fires the pass and it’s a first down. Rex gets another completion on 3rd and 5 on the slant to Josh Morgan. The next pass shows a little veteran savvy, even though it’s incomplete. Rex keeps his helmet completely straight, which holds the safety. He then comes back left looking for Robinson on the go route. There was a lot of contact; had Rex thrown a more catchable ball there may have been pass interference, as the DB was all over Aldrick. But Rex comes back to Aldrick on the next throw on the out route to get second and goal. The touchdown is a nice little wide receiver screen.

An efficient, if not overly flashy drive. Grossman goes 3-4 with a touchdown on the drive.

On the next drive, Rex is going to take a 5 step drop. Rex looks to be reading Logan Paulsen as he drops back, but Paulsen gets covered by the linebacker. Rex comes back right and throws it up in single coverage to Donte Stallworth, but it falls incomplete. On his next pass attempt, Rex gets pressured as he drops back and tries to fire a strike to Paulsen, but it falls incomplete.

The next drive, Grossman wants to hit Stallworth on the crosser, but he’s covered, and Rex sails it over his head. On the next play, Rex gets pressure right up the middle when Josh LeRibeius can’t handle the defensive tackle, and he ends up sailing the pass out of bounds. On 3rd and 10, Grossman completes to Stallworth on the short post route, then comes back to Stallworth on the slant on his next pass attempt. After a wide receiver screen to Nick Williams, on his next pass attempt, Rex again gets pressure on a corner blitz from rookie Blidi Wreh-Wilson. Rex throws the ball up off his back foot, and Lance Lewis goes up and catches it for the would be touchdown.

The most “Bad Rex”-ish pass of Rex’s playing time was another one caused by pressure. Rex throws the ball up in the direction of Nick Williams, and nearly gets it picked off.

So, how “terrible” was Rex’s first preseason outing? Well, not bad at all, really. He wasn’t flashy, but he did move the ball well when he was given time, and the degree of difficulty between him and White was distinctly noticeable. Rex showed he had a command of the Redskins offense beyond simple route combos that only required him to read on player over and over again.

Is Rex an ideal starter? No. But he’s not supposed to be. His job, in essence, is to be a mentor, and he’s a veteran who knows the offense and operate it at a level that is at least functional. (And no, the offense didn’t change when Robert Griffin III became quarterback, it’s the same offense it’s always been, Robert just runs a few more concepts).

Pat White’s okay game gave people who hate Rex ample ammo to try and push him out the door. The problem is 1.) Rex Grossman isn’t going anywhere, and 2.) Pat White would have a hard time pushing John effing Beck out the door. He’d have a hard time pushing Colt Brennan out the door.

And of course there are those who just don’t care and want Rex to be as good as gone as quickly as possible, because even if he never touches the field, he’s somehow going to give cooties to the two young kids. Or maybe you don’t even care about that and you just hate Rex Grossman.

Tough cookies. He’s staying. Have fun being miserable over him being on the roster. It’s not going to change.

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