ASHBURN, Va. — Rex Grossman has thrown at least one interception in 10 straight starts, which means he's spent 10 straight starts having to explaining what happened — and then shaking it off.
"It may stick in the papers afterwards," he said this week, "but it doesn't really stick in my head."
The Washington Redskins quarterback can shrug off a bad play as well as anybody. The problem for him is that he constantly has to do it. Last week's win over the New York Giants was a prime example: He threw interceptions on two of the first three possessions, yet bounced back to lead a 13-point victory.
For the season, Grossman has given the ball away 22 times — 18 interceptions and four lost fumbles — which ties him for the NFL lead with Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers. One of Grossman's best shots for a turnover-free game comes Saturday when the Redskins host the Minnesota Vikings (2-12), who have lost six straight and haven't picked off a pass in nine games.
The play of the quarterbacks was always going to be an overriding Redskins theme this year, from the moment coach Mike Shanahan decided to go with the tandem of Grossman and John Beck. Beck proved not to be the answer in three midseason starts, while Grossman has lived up to his Good Rex-Bad Rex reputation, with both extremes often appearing in the same game.
Come the end of the season, the Redskins will have to decide if they want Grossman back, perhaps to mentor a quarterback taken in the first round of the draft. The competition for a top QB got a bit more complicated Thursday when Matt Barkley announced he was staying at Southern California for another year.
If Grossman does come back, the Redskins want him to somehow, someway cut down on the turnovers — regardless of whether he disrupt his psyche.
"One thing I know is Rex has done a decent job," offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. "He has way too many turnovers, which is not acceptable. I know not all of them are him. I think you can help around him better. I can do better to help out him not having so many picks, but he definitely need to get that down. But Rex has done some real good things in these past few weeks."
It's not easy to teach new tricks to a veteran dog. Grossman has 53 career touchdowns and 58 career interceptions. He's 31 and in his ninth NFL season, so it's hard to imagine him changing who he is.
But Kyle Shanahan thinks it's possible.
"Even though you're saying he should have now by his ninth year, I think Rex could get better with some better spots around him," the offensive coordinator said. "I still think he can make better decisions, and I'm not just going to say, 'Hey, no matter what he's going to always throw picks.' I do believe he can do better."
Notes: Barring a setback, RT Jammal Brown looks set to return after missing two games with an injured right groin. ... RB Roy Helu (toe, knee) said he was feeling better but remained limited at practice Thursday.