TORONTO - Another day, another game of quarterback roulette.
When the spinning stopped in Washington, the white ball fell into John Beck’s slot, a change of heart for the Mike Shanahan-led Redskins.
It was as expected as Christian Ponder being promoted to carry the load the rest of the season in Minnesota over the aging Donovan McNabb.
In Washington, Beck takes over for Rex Grossman with the lone surprise being how long King Rex stood in there.
Grossman has never been a fan favourite — no matter where he has played — and Sunday’s four interception outing against the Philadelphia Eagles was all the evidence that Shanahan needed to make the switch.
Beck, you’ll remember, was Shanahan’s choice coming into training camp but was outplayed in pre-season by Grossman and since then has been biding his time as the backup.
Now the roles have been reversed and Beck’s first starting assignment comes on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.
“Definitely excited,” Beck told reporters on Wednesday. “There’s been a lot of hard work that’s gone into this. You never know when your opportunity is going to come. You always got to stay ready. I’ve tried to do that. Just want to go out there and perform my best.”
Given that Grossman looked so inept on Sunday and that Beck played the entire fourth quarter, the change can hardy be viewed as a surprise. Still, Beck said he didn’t know if he’d be starting until he got the word.
“The quarterback position is a tough position to be in,” Beck said. “There’s so many factors that play into your success or things not going well. Sometimes it’s not necessarily the quarterback. And when you watch the tape, you can see things clearly.
“I really didn’t know. Was just kind of saying, whichever way it goes, I’ll be fine with it. I’ll just continue to work, regardless if they decide to go with me or not.”
Beck, however, hardly looks like he’s the answer, be it short-time or long-time. Since he was selected in the second round of the 2007 draft by the Miami Dolphins, Beck has completed 68 passes in 122 attempts for 676 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. For the Redskins this year, he has completed 8-of-15 passes for 117 yards and run for one touchdown.
Sunday’s start will be his first since 2007.
In his five starts, Grossman was less than inspiring even when leading the Redskins to a 3-1 start. After the four picks against the Eagles, his interceptions are up to nine and he has also lost two fumbles.
He had his opportunity and wasn’t up to it. It’s as simple as that.
Grossman, though, views it differently.
“I do think they were good performances,” he said of his first four games. “The frustrating part about it is they should’ve been great. But statistics and ratings — you go out there to win. You don’t try to put up numbers. It’s very obvious when you have a great rating and you put up a lot of points, there’s no doubt you played great. Any time you don’t produce enough points and statistics, it leaves room for judgment.
“I had an opportunity to make it clear as day, and it wasn’t. For the first four games, I played well. I could show you to prove it, but it doesn’t matter. At this point, it is what it is.”
And what it is leaves Grossman on the sidelines and the Redskins still without a legitimate No. 1 quarterback.
UNDER THE GUN
Two weeks ago it was Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley who was under the win or be fired gun.
Now the barrel is pointing at Miami’s Tony Sparano.
That news hardly comes as a surprise as Sparano has been on the hot spot since before the Dolphins training camp. According to the Miami Herald, Sparano’s job is more day to day than week to week when you are 0-5 and sinking.
The Herald reports that a close associate of owner Stephen Ross said Ross is “very frustrated” and Sparano’s status would again be re-evaluated if the Dolphins lose at home Sunday to the Denver Broncos, who are 1-4.
The Dolphins have lost eight consecutive games dating back to last season and have been brutal at home where they have lost 11 of their past 12.
“I need to coach better,” Sparano said recently of his team. “They need to play better.”
The Dolphins are handicapped in that they are down to their backup quarterback, Matt Moore, after No. 1 Chad Henne was lost for the season with a shoulder injury.
It’s hard to see how Sparano can last the season.
A loss to Tim Tebow and Denver and it likely will be the end of the Sparano era, one that began with such promise in 2008.
PALMER EXPLAINS BENGALS BOYCOTT
Carson Palmer is back in the game.
Acquired by the Oakland Raiders in a trade with the Cincinnati Bengals, Palmer can once more put his effort on the field after sitting on the sidelines in a dispute with the Bengals.
He said his decision to not report to camp when his trade demands fell through was not an easy one.
“It was a number of different things but I spoke my peace with them (the organization),” he told the Cincinnati Enquirer of why he wanted out of Cincinnati. “It was just time.
“I know this was a selfish decision. I know what I was doing but after lots of thought and talking to different people that it was what was best for both sides.
“I had my meeting at the end of last season with Mr. (Mike) Brown and said the best thing to do was to move on and rebuild with the young talent and nucleus that they had. I’m glad that he realized that.”
Palmer said it has not been easy being away from the game.
“This was harder than I thought it would be,” Palmer said. “I thought the new CBA (collective bargaining agreement) would get done and then a trade would happen because it made sense. I didn’t want to say anything (publicly) because I didn’t want to be a distraction.”
He added that he is pleased with the Bengals success (4-2) and his lone regret is that he didn’t accomplish more in his time there.
“I’m sorry it didn’t work out, but I don’t look back with any regrets,” he said. “I gave it all I had.
“The future looks bright for the Bengals with the core of young guys they have and the good guys they have in that locker room. They should be excited.”
So too are the Raiders.