Here’s what I’m thinking about some of the important and unimportant Redskins topics this week:
To everyone cringing about the possibility of John Beck starting at quarterback for the Redskins next season, I say it’s premature to discount him as a serviceable option. We don’t know what he can do or what his ceiling is.
Rex Grossman? Yeah, we have 41 games of evidence. We can say with relative certainty what he’s capable of. But Beck’s NFL sample size is only four games his rookie season on a team that won only once. It’s an understatement to say that he was not put in position to succeed when Miami panicked and threw him into the fire in the face of a winless season.
Sure, there’s some evidence Beck won’t do well for the Redskins. Two franchises (Miami and Baltimore) run by accomplished football minds (Bill Parcells and Ozzie Newsome) have jettisoned him during his four NFL four seasons. But you have to consider the validity of Beck’s belief that he has been a victim of circumstance.
No rookie quarterback was going to succeed on that awful Dolphins team in 2007. Parcells took over after the season and hired a new general manager and head coach. The new regime wasn’t invested in Beck. Parcells chose his guy—an unexpectedly-available Chad Pennington—over the second-year quarterback. That’s totally reasonable.
Beck recognized he wasn’t in Parcells’ plans and asked for his release, which the Dolphins granted in April 2009. He followed former Dolphins coach Cam Cameron to Baltimore, where quarterback Joe Flacco was coming off a rookie-of-the-year season in which he helped the Ravens to the conference title game. No way was he getting on the field there, either.
I’m not trying to say Beck is a great quarterback who has gotten a raw deal his whole career. He might stink in D.C. I’m saying only that we don’t know what he is. There’s no way to accurately judge him until we see him in practice (running the Redskins’ offense, not the scout team) and in preseason games. Until then, let’s all take a deep breath.
I like Beck’s chances in a head-to-head competition with Grossman, provided they have a full training camp to battle it out.
Grossman’s advantage of playing experience in the offense is magnified each day that practices are lost to the lockout, but let’s assume (dream?) that teams report to training camp on time in July.
A big reason why the Redskins signed Grossman last offseason was that he had a year of experience in the offense in Houston. Well, Beck has a similar experience level now. Beck also has a stronger arm than Grossman, is more mobile and can throw effectively on the run.
Beck’s a smart guy, too, and extremely determined. After arriving in Washington last summer, he set up a home computer specifically for the purpose of watching game and practice film in his own house. Some days he would go home to put his kids to bed and then come back to Redskins Park to watch tape late into the night.
Coach Mike Shanahan said about quarterbacks on April 30: “What I’m looking for is a guy that’s going to be first to work, last to leave.” That applies to John Beck, and it’s why Shanahan would feel comfortable entering the season with him instead of, oh I don’t know, Vince Young.
Shanahan gets credit in my book for not drafting a quarterback just to fill the position. The success of his tenure in Washington—and you could argue that his Hall of Fame candidacy depends on that—will be heavily impacted by how quickly he can solve the Redskins’ quarterback problems. He’s off to a horrible start, and going all-in on a quarterback that he’s not sold on would have been illogical.
As Beck pointed out before the draft, look at the quarterbacks who recently have succeeded (or won games, at least) in their rookie seasons. Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Mark Sanchez and Flacco joined teams with good defenses and/or running games already in place. The Redskins currently have neither.
It’s a defensible strategy, then, to spend 2011 using draft picks and, new CBA permitting, free agency to improve the running game and defense. See what they have in Beck, and if Beck flops, draft a rookie next April from a class of quarterbacks that’s expected to be very good. Plug the prospect into a situation in which he’s more likely to succeed.
I say it’s defensible because the Redskins were not positioned to contend this season, anyway. Not after the McNabb experiment failed. There are too many needs. Fans have to keep the long term in mind here because that’s the realistic timetable for contending.
It’s fair to ask what Mike Shanahan has to lose by entering the season with Beck as his starter. Shanahan loves competition, so don’t expect him to name Beck the Week 1 quarterback without a training camp competition. But say Beck wins the job and ultimately flops, leaving Shanahan 0-for-2 on his quarterback choices. Then what?
Maybe Shanahan’s seat heats up, but you have to allow for the scenario that I described above: Beck serves as a placeholder for a 2012 rookie that joins a much better supporting cast than Beck would in 2011. In that case, the whole situation could turn out OK for Shanahan.
At the very least, he probably would deserve a chance to see that 2012 scenario through. After all, a rookie quarterback equals hope. Just ask Cam Cameron, Beck’s coach in Miami, circa November 2007.
Perhaps it’s more likely that Kyle Shanahan’s position would be the one under major internal scrutiny if Beck were to fail. However, Beck and Kyle are on good terms, so I’d be surprised if Beck’s failure reflected as badly on Kyle as McNabb’s did.
It’s not a good sign that I’m starting to get agitated by the staying power of certain news items during the lockout. We could have many more months of this. Ugh. Personally, I blame the Capitals for crashing out of the playoffs and creating this media vacuum.
Both the McNabb wristband story and the recent Carlos Rogers buzz mostly are non-starters with me, but I do have a couple thoughts.
I don’t discount the report of McNabb refusing to wear a wristband because it came from The Sports Junkies on talk radio and not a reporter for a news organization. Anyone with a smart phone can break news these days.
And beyond that, everyone has relationships. Sometimes a source is more likely to tell someone something because they are not a reporter working for an accredited media outlet. The notepad, recorder and press badge have a way of tightening lips, you know. It’s not difficult to envision a scenario in which a radio host and a player or coach are hanging out, information is shared and that information ends up on the airwaves.
For me, this McNabb-wristband thing is like crying over spilled milk. It’s more useful for us to focus on how they’re going to clean up the mess. Beck and Grossman actually matter in the 2011 picture. McNabb is an afterthought at this point.
As for Rogers, he has said for months that his top priority is getting paid. It’s tough to blame him considering his financial woes. He should be ready and willing to go to whatever team pays him.
Regarding any perceived slight of DeAngelo Hall, Rogers didn’t say anything Hall didn’t already acknowledge back on Jan. 2 when Hall said: “I’ve made a lot of plays this season, but I got beat this season more than I ever got beat in my career combined.”
I think Rogers still can be a productive player for the Redskins. He proved to be a solid cover corner last season, even as defensive coordinator Jim Haslett played him as the nickel guy. But I wouldn’t blame the Redskins for wanting to get younger and cheaper at the position, either.
…if you have some thoughts on these or any other topics, please don’t hesitate to share. Leave a comment, email me or hit me on Twitter @Rich_Campbell.