Rex Grossman just won a job. The Redskins quarterback looked like a combination of Billy Kilmer and Heath Shuler in Washington's 33-30 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. So much promise, so much pain.
After a whirlwind 48 hours in which the Redskins were largely scorned by fans and national media for benching Donovan McNabb, Grossman showed he wasn't just a sideshow performer. Well, sort of.
Grossman led a 20-point comeback and threw four touchdowns. But he also threw two interceptions and fumbled -- leading to 14 Dallas points. There was the perfect mixture of good and bad to keep everyone debating over the offseason whether Grossman should start in 2011.
McNabb's Redskins career ended in Dallas, and he didn't even play a snap. Coach Mike Shanahan wanted to see whether Grossman was as good as he looked in practice. The passer certainly looked comfortable in the system, which validates the coach's ego.
Shanahan, perhaps the least liked Redskins coach among fans since Vince Lombardi revived the program in 1969, now has an "I-told-you-so" in his pocket. And make no mistake: He's going to use it.
The Redskins want a reason to jettison McNabb over the offseason. They just received it. Washington now should bench Grossman for two games so his value doesn't take a hit. It can only decrease from here.
The Redskins need to sign Grossman to a contract extension to avoid losing him to free agency. After throwing for 322 yards and posting a 93.4 rating, Grossman will attract another offer. If he's their future starter, the Redskins can't gamble losing Grossman like they did with Trent Green in 1999.
There are two good reasons for starting Grossman next year. First, the Redskins have a real chance at drafting a top quarterback in April. They might draft sixth overall if they lose the last two games. That means Washington needs a placeholder for a season or two while the newcomer develops.
Secondly, the lockout looms large next year, so who knows when the NFL next will have a season. Most likely, the labor dispute will move to the courts and games will continue as usual. But free agency might be abbreviated. It may not start until the summer, making it hard for a new quarterback to learn the system quickly. Keeping Grossman is a needed advantage over starting a newcomer.
Will Grossman throw four touchdowns regularly next season? No, "it was just one game" as Shanahan said afterward. Expectations shouldn't be raised too high. But the Redskins really haven't had a strong quarterback since Brad Johnson in 1999. Grossman won't be any worse than a number of journeymen who have passed through during the past decade.
After all, the 5-9 Redskins are amid a tear down. They're at least two or three seasons away from contending if they're lucky. Grossman can fill in while the Redskins find his successor.
Examiner columnist Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more at TheRickSniderReport.com and Twitter @Snide_Remarks or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.