The Washington Times - July 11, 2011, 11:02PM

Former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann believes John Beck’s level of success as Washington’s starting quarterback would be determined as much by who’s around him as it would be by Beck’s play itself.

“If people would look at the quarterback position this way, I think they’d be a little bit more understanding about the growth at the position: It’s the single most dependent position on the field,” Theismann said in a recent phone conversation. “You need offensive line. You need the running game. You need receivers to run routes and catch the football. You need defenses to stop people. You need kickers to make kicks.”

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As evidence, Theismann recalled Washington’s 1982 championship season in which the NFL MVP was Redskins kicker Mark Moseley.

“When you look at the quarterback position, yes, there are certain things that are essential to play it,,” he said. “But unless you have a good supporting cast around you, it’s a struggle.”

The talent pool surrounding Redskins quarterbacks has not overflowed in recent seasons. Just ask Jason Campbell, Donovan McNabb, etc. Beck already knows the feeling.

When he got his first chance to play in the NFL as a rookie with the Miami Dolphins in 2007, he hardly was positioned to succeed. The quarterback spot was far from the Dolphins’ only problem that year, yet an embattled coaching staff facing a winless season promoted Beck in a desperate move.

The four losses through which he languished in 2007 stand as his only regular-season experience, and his poor play during that stretch is a major reason why many in the media have panned coach Mike Shanahan’s decision to strongly consider Beck for the Redskins’ starting job this fall.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles reportedly could receive a first-round draft pick as trade compensation for backup quarterback Kevin Kolb, whose career always will be linked to Beck’s because they were drafted within four picks of each other in the second round in 2007. (Kolb was drafted 36th overall, and Beck went 40th.)

Theismann doesn’t understand how Kolb could be so widely coveted while Beck is so widely disregarded.

Kevin Kolb had the good fortune of being in a situation where he had some pretty damn good football players around him in Philly,” he said. “But I think Kevin is basically riding the hype. I mean, really, what has he done? Look, at his body of work—there isn’t any.”

Theismann believes Beck is capable of establishing himself as a winning quarterback if the Redskins help him with additional upgrades during a free-agency period that could follow a new collective bargaining agreement.

“John is a smart kid,” Theismann said. “He has taken the bull by the horns in the workouts with these guys, and I think he has shown signs of leadership and the ability to be able to do things that you need to do from an intangible standpoint.

“Now it becomes what do you do from a tangible standpoint? How well do you throw? How well do you run the offense? How well do you convert third downs? How well do you protect the football? Now it’s football stuff.”

Theismann’s vocal cords were in midseason form during a chat last week. Never one to keep his opinions bottled up, he currently is backing Defense Sport MouthGuard Rinse, a product designed to remove dirt and bacteria from mouthguards.

He preached the rinse’s value by sharing how a dirty mouthguard made him sick back in 1971. His CFL Toronto Argonauts were playing against Montreal the day after the Autostade hosted a livestock show. Theismann on one occasion dropped his mouthpiece on the ground and put it back into his mouth.

“I basically would up with hoof and mouth disease,” he said.

“You think about what happens with mouthpieces: Guys stick them in their facemask or their socks,” he said. “Hockey guys stick them in their gloves. Sometimes you come to the sideline, you put your helmet down and the mouthguard falls on the ground. You dip it in water where everyone has stuck their hands, and you stick it in your mouth again. So I think anybody that uses a mouthguard should consider taking a look at this.”