I recently had the opportunity, along with Gary Fitzgerald of Redskins.com, to catch up with former Redskins general manager and CBS/NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly.
Casserly has made a name for himself as a keen evaluator of NFL talent for the last 24 years, and seemed like the perfect person to ask about the upcoming quarterback matchup in the Redskins-Cowboys game.
First he broke down the success that Grossman is having so far this season as the Redskins starter:
“I think the thing about Rex is it’s consistency, and he’s running the offense,” he explained. “What I mean by that, is he is going through the progressions on the reads. He’s getting to the second receiver and he gets to the third receiver.”
Casserly explained how consistency this season has allowed him to unlock his true potential.
“He always had enough throwing talent but he had too many lows along with too many highs,” he said. “In other words there wasn’t as much consistency in there, so I see a more calmness about him. He understands the offense so he understands where the receivers are. He’s been accurate and I think he’s executing the offense without the negative plays he’s had at times in his career by forcing things and trying to do more than he needs to do.”
He also tweeted an explanation of Grossman’s rough start in last week’s game against the Cardinals:
Additionally, Casserly described where he thought Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo fit into the quarterback rankings, going into his ninth season in the league:
“Well I think he’s about in the middle, but I think he’s a winning quarterback,” he explained. “I think he can take a team to the playoffs. I think he’s got the throwing talent as far as quickness of release, arm strength, that he can move around well, he can be an accurate passer.”
But Casserly also attributed Romo’s knack for bad-luck-mistakes to his struggles so far:
“It’s interesting so far this year I think he has played well,” he said. “In the opening game he had a couple of issues there. A fumble on the goal line, which in all honesty that was as good a defensive play more so than a bad offensive play. He covered the ball up and went down the guy just hit the helmet on the ball. On the interception at the end of the game the receiver ran the wrong route. He’s coming out throwing the ball expecting the receiver at a spot and the receiver never stopped, the receiver kept going. That was not his fault. I thought he took responsibility for it, which showed good leadership ability.”
Thanks to a rib-crushing, lung-collapsing hit in last week’s game, Romo’s status is uncertain for Monday night, which leaves open the door for veteran backup Jon Kitna to take the field. Kitna is 1-1 in his career against the Redskins, but has a significantly different skill set from Romo.
“The difference is, Kitna is going to stay in the pocket,” Casserly said. “You’re not going to have to spend a lot of time on keeping a guy in the pocket and scramble drills for the secondary to stay with receivers.”
So how do you beat a pocket quarterback? Right up the middle:
“The thing there is you know where he is going to be when you have a quarterback that is a pocket guy, pressure from the inside causes him the most problems,” Casserly explained. “If we were designing blitz packages to me, you want to design blitz packages up the middle. That’s also where the Cowboys are inexperienced in the offensive line so that’s the weakness in their front five, the middle three.”
Casserly’s final take on Kitna? Defenders beware:
“Kitna, you can’t underestimate him,” he said. “He’s smart he knows where to go with the ball. It looks like his arm is still live enough watching him against San Fransico. ”
Casserly expects the Monday Night matchup to live up to its billing, and be a very close game. Read up more on his analysis of the Redskins, both in-game and afterward, on his Twitter: @CasserlyCBS.
These are some other notes he had on the Cowboy-Redskins defensive matchup, after watching he tape: