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Redskins positional review: Quarterbacks

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Redskins Confidential,Sports,John Keim

Projected starter: Robert Griffin III

Key reserves: Rex Grossman, Kirk Cousins

Vet in trouble: Barring the unforeseen, Grossman isn’t in danger of losing a job. Jonathan Crompton is, but considering he was a practice squader last season you can’t really call him a veteran.

Camp battle: For the No. 2 job, but it’s hard to imagine Cousins being in a position to really challenge Grossman at this stage. And it’s hard to imagine a team wanting two rookie quarterbacks as their top two.

What I like: RG3’s potential. His arm. His speed. His charisma. His leadership. Yeah, a lot to like. He’s a smart (and savvy) kid too. He’s not perfect, but he is an exciting prospect, one the Redskins have not seen in quite some time. … I like what he can do for this offense. It’s funny that way back when some questioned whether he was a good fit in this offense. Heck, he’s the perfect fit. They want to bootleg and now you have a QB who can run it quicker than what they had – and who is a threat teams must honor when he gets outside. And he can throw the deep ball, which these coaches clearly want…Cousins’ traits. He, too, has a good arm though it is not as strong as Griffin’s. Don’t let that fool you into thinking his arm isn’t strong enough. It’s plenty strong and we saw it this spring on some deep outs. … I like the work ethic of both young QBs. And that they may have solved this position for the next four years… Grossman’s knowledge of the offense. He’s a capable backup, one who could move the offense for a couple games.

Remaining questions: How quickly can Griffin adapt? This spring we saw Griffin have good days and bad, as any rookie will. On the good days Griffin fit passes into tight spots, particularly on deep outs, beating good coverage. On mediocre days he was able to keep his passes away from the defender, giving his guy the only chance to catch the ball. It helped especially when he had a good line of vision. On the bad days he tossed interceptions, largely because he failed to see a defender in the area. This happened a couple times. Defensive coordinators will try to bait him into certain throws and there’s no doubt he’ll fall for the traps on occasion…. How often will the Redskins run him? You don’t want to wear him down by running him too often, but his legs are an asset that will be tapped….How long will it take Cousins to develop? Then again does this really matter? He’s slated to be the No. 3 but with Grossman on a one-year deal they need Cousins to get a good grasp of the offense this year, or else they’ll need another vet in 2013. … How accurate will Griffin be? I know his downfield accuracy drew raves, but one question that came up from veteran observers before the draft was his accuracy in the intermediate game…Will Grossman be any different if he has to play? I think I know the answer to that one. He is who he is at this stage. I think you know that.

Better or worse: There’s no doubt the potential is greater than it’s been in years. Is it better immediately? Well, it could be but that’s assuming a rookie becomes a capable passer immediately. Then again, Grossman completed 57.9 percent of his passes, averaged 6.9 yards per pass and threw 16 touchdowns to 20 interceptions. In other words, stats that many first-year QBs compile. Surely Griffin can do better. But the problem  under Grossman wasn’t necessarily the ability to move the offense – in five of the last seven games the offense was solid. They scored 23 or more points in those five games and Grossman averaged at least 7.7 yards per catch in four of them (along with four games of a passer rating 89.9 percent or higher). Can Griffin do that right away? The Redskins would be thrilled if he did. That’s why the improvement is obviously more about potential than anything immediate. Of course, in those seven games Grossman tossed nine picks to 10 touchdowns. If Griffin can keep away from mistakes this offense should move the ball. His arm is big enough and legs fast enough that big plays should follow; will they be sandwiched around negatives? Probably at times. But the big plays should be bigger. And I like that Griffin took care of the ball at Baylor (something Grossman did not do well at Florida; he threw 33 picks in 1,110 attempts in college to Griffin’s 17 interceptions in 1,159 attempts). One scout said it’ll be evident within a few weeks whether Griffin gets it or not; you should see at this point how much he really is starting to grasp the offense. My guess is three weeks will affirm what people have said from the start about him.

Final word: One area that should improve (needs to improve) in terms of efficiency under Griffin is the red zone. And not necessarily because of his arm. Rather, his ability to extend plays will greatly help their offense inside the 20 (not to mention designed runs; Griffin’s presence, if he is who we think, will force teams to defend more plays). Too often last season if Grossman had no options, all he could do was throw the ball away or take a sack. So three to four seconds after the snap the play was over. It’s hard to get open quickly down here so buying an extra second or two is crucial. The Redskins ranked in the bottom five in red zone production, so the combination of Griffin’s ability to extend plays and an improved receiving corps should help. But Griffin also will need to avoid killer mistakes (which ruined last year’s offense). It’s a big reason the Redskins ranked 16th in total yards but 26th in scoring offense.

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