The confounding case of Rex Grossman

While Rex Grossman's numbers always have him on the fringe of the bench, he has found ways to win against the Vikings. This year, his Redskins are better with him as the starter than without him.

There are a lot of things that don't make sense in the NFL. Among them is the strange saga of Rex Grossman. Few things inspire confidence for defenders like seeing Grossman lined up on the other side of the ball. Going from Drew Brees last week to Grossman this week is similar to going from the Harlem Globetrotters to the Washington Generals.

The last time the Vikings saw Grossman, he was the on the bench watching Donovan McNabb do his thing. McNabb was the quarterback for the Redskins last year when the Vikings beat the Redskins 17-13. It was part of the McNabb malaise – in his final four starts, Washington never scored more than 19 points and, despite signing a big contract extension, he was benched in favor of Grossman two weeks after that loss. The rest, as Vikings fans know all too well, is history.

Grossman has earned the dual nickname "Good Rex/Bad Rex" because his career legacy has been that of being hated by the home fans. He has done nothing to earn the love of the fans because, while his teams found ways to win, it was often despite Grossman instead of being because of Grossman. Look no further than his history against the Vikings.

In four career starts vs. Minnesota, Grossman has completed barely 50 percent of his passes (63 of 121) for 717 yards with one touchdown and five interceptions. By any NFL standard those numbers are hideous. Yet, his teams have a 3-1 record in those games.

The Vikings last saw Grossman in 2006 when he was the Bears' starter and Chicago fans desperately wanted a change despite the team on its way to a 13-3 regular season and an eventual trip to the Super Bowl. In his first meeting with the Vikings that year, he completed 23 of 41 passes for 278 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Thanks to four field goals, his Bears were able to get away with a 19-16 win. His second meeting had fans clamoring for backup Kyle Orton. Grossman was even more gross, man. In that game, he completed just 6 of 19 passes for 34 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions, yet, thanks to a defensive touchdown and a Devin Hester return for a score, the Bears won 23-13.

Since that Super Bowl run, it's all been downhill for Grossman, who bounced around the league before landing a starting job with Mike Shanahan and the Redskins. He was benched earlier this year for similar reasons – a team losing streak that was blamed in no small part on Grossman's inability to lead the offense up and down the field. He was benched in favor of youngster John Beck, but, sighting safety concerns for Beck, Shanahan threw Grossman back into the starting lineup – apparently far less concerned with Grossman's relative health.

As the Vikings prepare for the Redskins, they are preparing for the "anti-Saints" – and, in turn, the anti-Brees. Grossman has found a way to hang around in the NFL because, like him or not, the guy finds a way to win. He's like Tim Tebow without the fan following or athletic ability.

Just about any quarterback who has the résumé that Grossman has put up against the Vikings would find his way to the bench. Instead, Grossman has posted a 3-1 record despite having extraordinarily pedestrian numbers. His legacy has been that somehow his teams win even though Grossman has never been one to strap a team on his back to lead them to victory.

Nothing has really changed from his days in Chicago to his time in Washington. The Redskins are 5-9 this season – 5-6 with Grossman as the starter (including close losses to the Patriots and Cowboys) and 0-3 without him. Defying explanation, the Redskins are a more successful team with Grossman that without. Somehow, the beat goes on.

WEDNESDAY NOTES

  • The Vikings return to practice today to start a short work week. Because of Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, the majority of the NFL games this week will be played Saturday afternoon, providing a 24-hour Christmas Eve/Christmas Day blackout window for the league to allow even the hardest of hard-core fans to take some time away for their families at Christmas.

  • Following his huge 412-yard performance last Sunday, Drew Brees is just 305 yards away from breaking the quarter-century-old single-season passing yardage record currently held by Dan Marino.

  • As of Tuesday, the Vikings had about 2,500 tickets remaining for the regular-season finale vs. Chicago.


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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  • The Vikings return to practice today to start a short work week. Because of Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, the majority of the NFL games this week will be played Saturday afternoon, providing a 24-hour Christmas Eve/Christmas Day blackout window for the league to allow even the hardest of hard-core fans to take some time away for their families at Christmas.
  • Following his huge 412-yard performance last Sunday, Drew Brees is just 305 yards away from breaking the quarter-century-old single-season passing yardage record currently held by Dan Marino.
  • As of Tuesday, the Vikings had about 2,500 tickets remaining for the regular-season finale vs. Chicago.
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