When Mike Shanahan was introduced as head coach of the Washington Redskins, he seemed to be singing the praises of Jason Campbell. With the constant murmurs of drafting a young quarterback, like Jimmy Clausen of Notre Dame, Campbell is once again “apparently” on the hot seat. Does Campbell deserve this? Mike Shanahan doesn’t think so. Shanahan said today at a press conference at Redskins Park (with former Head Coach Joe Gibbs present):
“We want competition. We’re going to try and improve. We are going to work everyday to get better.”
That is the glaring difference between last year’s quarterback circus versus this year’s. Last year was a public tar and feathering of Campbell, while the team attempted to “upgrade” quickly and flashy. That attempt subsequently failed, and that left a bitter and scorned quarterback. This year, the Redskins are starting all over, and everyone is auditioning. Queue Rex Grossman.
Rex Grossman was signed today with a one year deal. Grossman was previously a back up quarterback with the Houston Texans, backing up Matt Schaub. Grossman played within Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system and that gives him a heads up. This is no real advantage over Campbell for Grossman, but it is a step forward. No one on this team should have the notion that he is guaranteed a starting spot, or even a job at all. You would want Campbell to pick up the system that the Skins will be running next year, but you want him to feel competition prior to the season starting. Thinking you will be good or ready, rather than preparing for the long haul and getting better are two different things.
Last year under Jim Zorn, it was probably a preconceived notion that they would improve after going 8-8. Subsequently, players missed off season workouts or worked out on their own. Others did not even participate fully in training camp. The result: 4-12 record.
This year, if this team expects to improve, they must play like they are desperate and hungry. How do you get millionaire athletes participate as if they are desperate and hungry? You can start by ridding the team of overpaid, older players. You can start by expecting players to show up for “voluntary” workouts, expressing that less than 100% team participation is a disappointment. You can start by signing free agents to challenge players in key positions, to possibly push them harder or even push them out. Nothing is guaranteed, and with the team turning a new leaf, hopefully greener pastures are ahead for this team.