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Redskins (5-10) at Eagles (7-8)… and the possible demise of the Rex Grossman era in D.C.

The Redskins had their opportunity to take over the Eastern Division this season as the Eagles, Cowboys and Giants all took turns putting up disastrous losing streaks and leaving the door wide open… But too bad for Mike Shanahan and the ‘Skins, after an early burst of promise, their season hit the skids. RB Ryan Torain has been released from the team. And to add insult to injury, ILB veteran great London Fletcher was snubbed in the Pro Bowl voting.

And the guy who promised a Division title — QB Rex Grossman — has struggled to put up a lousy 73.3 passer rating this season.

Rex Grossman may play his final game with the Washington Redskins on Sunday at Philadelphia. The quarterback is not signed for next season and the team looks likely to draft his replacement come April. Yet, Grossman was undeterred on Wednesday over the future. He expects to return to Washington and start next season.

“My confidence level is at an all-time high,” he said. “I just need to eliminate the couple bad plays here and there that deter great performance. … We’ve done a lot of great things this year. Just the consistency level, the percentage of bad plays just needs to go down. I’ve put a lot of good tape out there. I had some turnovers, whether some I could control, some I couldn’t. There is a lot of good tape out there also, so we’ll see.”

Grossman was clearly better than John Beck, who led the Redskins to three losses and 31 points in his three starts. But that’s practically the only person Grossman outplayed. Grossman’s best category is 17th among NFL quarterbacks in touchdowns. He is 18th in average gain, 22nd in completion percentage and 30th in interceptions. Overall, Grossman ranks 28th of 33 quarterbacks in passer rating.

Turnovers have been the dagger for Grossman. Nineteen interceptions and five lost fumbles, at least one a game, is just unacceptable. Grossman smiles when talking of good things, but they’re all undone by turnovers. That has been the problem his entire nine-year career. It’s not changing in the 10th.

The Redskins may soon spend their fourth first-round pick since winning their last Super Bowl in 1991 on a passer. Grossman will eventually be recalled as just another of 18 quarterbacks passing through during two decades of mediocrity. Still, Grossman remains undeterred. “When I look at my situation I try to make the best of every possible scenario,” he said. “I’m not fully naive to the situation. … Some things are out of my control. But what I can control, I want to make a case for myself.”

What all this means to the Eagles is that they will be facing a QB on Sunday who is hell-bent to prove he still deserves to own the starting job for the Redskins next year. That can be a significant motivation factor to deal with, and should put to rest any sneaking suspicion by the Eagles that the Redskins offense may just be going through the motions on Sunday.

The Eagles defense needs to come ready to play and get after Grossman. He knows the offense. The Redskins have scored at least 23 points in five of their last six games, although they only won two of those games. “I think you’ve seen as far as production over the last six weeks or so, we’ve been putting up a decent amount of points and moving the ball at a consistent pace,” Grossman said. “The negative plays eliminate that.”

Projected Starting Lineups:       Redskins                        Eagles
WR                               Santana Moss                 Jeremy Maclin
LT                                Willie Smith                    Jason Peters
LG                                Maurice Hurt                   Evan Mathis
C                                 Will Montgomery              Jason Kelce
RG                               Chris Chester                   Danny Watkins
RT                               Jammal Brown                 Todd Herremans
TE                               Logan Paulson                  Brent Celek
WR                              Jabar Gaffney                   DeSean Jackson
QB                               Rex Grossman                  Michael Vick
FB                                Darrel Young                   Owen Schmitt
RB                                Roy Helu                         LeSean McCoy     

DE                               Adam Carriker                  Jason Babin   
NT/DT                          Barry Cofield                    Cullen Jenkins
DE/DT                          Stephen Bowen               Mike Patterson
LB/DE                           Ryan Kerrigan                  Trent Cole
LB                                London Fletcher               Brian Rolle
LB                                Perry Riley                       Jamar Chaney
LB                                Brian Orapko                    Akeem Jordan
CB                                DeAngelo Hall                  Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
CB                                Josh Brown                     Nnamdi Asomugha
SS                                Reed Doughty                 Jaiquawn Jarrett
FS                                Dejon Gomes                   Nate Allen

— Gaffney’s Coming On

Through 15 games this season, wide receiver Jabar Gaffney has posted a team-leading 64 catches for 919 yards and five touchdowns. He is also the only receiver, and one of just three players on offense, who has started every game this season. Gaffney has been particularly productive the last two weeks. In the Redskins’ 23-10 win over the New York Giants in Week 15, he posted six catches for 86 yards, including several clutch third- and fourth-down grabs. Last Saturday vs. Minnesota, he had six catches for 77 yards, including a remarkable one-handed touchdown catch.

“Jabar has been healthy and he has been a consistent route runner, consistent catching the ball,” quarterback Rex Grossman said. “That’s all you can ask for. He has a lot of talent. He’s a big receiver who knows exactly where to sit in zones. We’re on the same page.”

Gaffney has set career highs in receiving yards and touchdowns this season. With another 81 yards, he can register the first 1,000-yard campaign of his career. “That would be great — my first 1,000-yard season comes back with Rex,” Gaffney mused. “We’re on the same page, he looks for me, and that was one of my personal goals when I came here this season. It would be nice if I can finally do it.”

— Redskins’ Youth Movement Is Underway

Last April, the Redskins set a franchise record for picks in a seven-round draft with 12. As of Week 12 of the season, 10 of the 12 picks had received playing time, the highest total in the NFL.

First-round linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has started every game this season, compiling 66 tackles, 7.5 sacks, one interception and four forced fumbles.

Second-round defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins’ season ended on injured reserve in preseason. Third-round wide receiver Leonard Hankerson was also placed on injured reserve after he caught 13 passes for 163 yards in four games.

Fourth-round running back Roy Helu is the Redskins’ breakout player of the second half of the seaso. He rushed for 100+ yards in Weeks 11-13, becoming the first Redskins rookie ever to do so in three consecutive weeks. He also caught a franchise record 14 passes for 105 yards in Week 9.

Fifth-rounders safety DeJon Gomes and wide receiver Niles Paul have seen action in reserve roles this season.

Sixth-round running back Evan Royster saw his first significant NFL action last week vs. Minnesota. He started the game and rushed for 132 yards on 19 carres. He also caught two passes for 15 yards,

Seventh-round guard Maurice Hurt has emerged as the starting left guard since Week 8. Fellow seventh rounders cornerback Brandyn Thompson, linebacker Markus White and defensive tackle Chris Neild have seen action as backups.

Along with Jenkins, only sixth-round wide receiver Aldrick Robinson has not seen playing time this season. Robinson joined the Redskins’ roster this week after serving on the practice squad all season.