Is Rex Grossman auditioning to become the Redskins' starting quarterback in 2011?
With Donovan McNabb's future in Washington uncertain, it's suddenly a very real possibility.
Grossman acknowledged as much during a Wednesday media session -- his first as the starter this season -- at Redskins Park.
"As a team, we have eight quarters left, about 120 plays," he said. "I want to do my assignments and do my job at an extremely high level. If I do that, then it is out of my hands and I can go to Tampa in the offseason, relax and wait to see what happens."
Grossman assumed the Redskins' starting QB job last week after McNabb was benched by head coach Mike Shanahan.
Shanahan said he wanted to evaluate Grossman in the final regular season games. The Redskins close out the season at Jacksonville this Sunday and vs. New York on Jan. 2.
In last Sunday's 33-30 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Shanahan was pleased with how Grossman rebounded from a shaky start and established a rhythm on offense.
Shanahan declined to discuss the Redskins' quarterback situation long-term this week.
"The bottom line is, I get to evaluate Rex over the next couple of games," he said. "As we've talked about from day one -- the good, the bad the ugly. You never know for sure what you're going to see. We are playing a team in Jacksonville that's fighting for a playoff spot and we know where the Giants are. So, it's a great chance for Rex to show everyone what he can do."
Against Dallas, Grossman completed 25-of-43 passes for 322 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.
Most of his success came in the second half, when the Redskins were trailing 27-7. He led the offense to a stunning comeback, tying the game at 30-30 before the Cowboys won on a late field goal.
Grossman was 18-of-30 for 214 and three touchdowns in the second half vs. Dallas.
"It definitely took a while to settle in," he said. "You stop worrying about the different things [the defense] can do to stop you. It's a mindset that allows you to play faster. Hopefully I can start the next game like that."
The offense established a quicker pace in the second half, Grossman said.
"Everyone responded quickly, got back in the huddle, got in and out of the huddle quickly, lined up, and we were able to get to the line with 18 or 19 seconds left on the play clock," he said. "That allows you to make changes at the line or get a better read on who the line is going to block or how you are going to attack a certain coverage.
"It just puts more pressure on the defense to line up faster and be ready. A lot of times we went on the first sound with no cadence. I just said, 'Hut,' just to get going. It helps catch the defense off guard."
Grossman's career, which includes a 6-year stint with the Chicago Bears, has been marked by costly turnovers.
Against Dallas, he threw two interceptions and fumbled once, resulting in 14 points for the Cowboys.
Grossman has talked openly about changing the perception that he is a turnover-prone quarterback.
He knows he can only do that on the field.
Heading into this season, he had played in 37 games (with 31 starts), completed just 54 percent of his passes and thrown 33 touchdowns and 36 interceptions. He had also lost 12 fumbles.
Even in his best season in 2006, when he quarterbacked the Bears to an appearance in Super Bowl XLI, he had 20 interceptions and five fumbles.
Coaches and fans grew frustrated with his mistakes, even as the Bears kept winning due to a strong defense and a dynamic kick returner in Devin Hester.
"I think I am definitely stereotyped as an inconsistent quarterback, and I'm doing everything possible to change that perception," he said. "The only way you change that perception is to play consistently. It's nothing you have to over-think. It's just a matter of going out there and doing it."
Grossman said he feels a comfort level playing in the Redskins' offense, having played in the same system in Houston under Kyle Shanahan in 2009.
But he recognizes there is room for improvement.
"I need to take care of the football," he said. "That's my main goal -- no turnovers."