Redskins’ search for franchise QB leads them to John Beck

2007 2nd-round pick becomes Redskins’ 21st starting QB since ‘91 Super Bowl

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The list is 20 names long. Way too long, really. Reading them might depress you or anger you or make you laugh, depending on your level of disenchantment.

No matter the nature of your immediate reaction, though, chronicling each of the Washington Redskins‘ starting quarterbacks since the franchise last won the Super Bowl 20 years ago is sure to be a sobering reminder of why the drought has lasted so long.

On Sunday, John Beck’s name will be etched at the top of the list, No. 21. How long it stays there, and the frequency at which others are added in the future, will be the leading indicator of whether coach Mike Shanahan’s building project ultimately is successful.

“I think everybody is looking for stability at that position. Everybody,” Shanahan said. “You’re hoping that whoever it may be stays there for a long length of time.”

The quarterback position is generally regarded as the most important on a football team because he runs the offense. The ball is in his hands on every play.

The Redskins still are searching for theirs, and Shanahan has increased the pace. He’s on his fourth first-string passer in less than two years in charge.

To say the Redskins have a revolving door at the position would be an insult to that reliable and efficient passageway. The only thing reliable about Washington’s quarterbacks for the last two decades has been mediocre play and instability.

And the Redskins have looked in just about every way possible. Their list of starters since 1992 covers all types of NFL pedigrees. There are first-round picks Heath Shuler, Patrick Ramsey and Jason Campbell. There are high-profile busts Donovan McNabb and Jeff George.

Some passers left town and enjoyed greater success elsewhere, such as Brad Johnson and Trent Green. And there are a few names that make you ask: Really? Danny Wuerffel, Cary Conklin and Tim Hasselbeck.

Redskins tight end Chris Cooley has been around for six of them. Beck will be No. 7. It’s not a coincidence Cooley has won only one playoff game since Washington drafted him in 2004.

Does he ever wonder what it would be like to have a stable quarterback situation?

“Yep, I have,” he said rather enthusiastically on Friday. Just the thought of it put a smile on his face.

“It’s not just that we’ve changed quarterbacks every year,” he said. “We’ve changed offenses every two years since I’ve been here, as well. There’s a time it takes people to grow as a team, to grow as an offense, to trust each other, to understand what were trying to accomplish. And in my opinion you can do it in a year and a half, but that’s not the optimal deal.”

Cooley and the entire Redskins organization could get a glimpse of the prize by looking across the field Sunday to the opposite sideline.

The Carolina Panthers, after a 1-15 season, selected Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton to be their franchise quarterback. And while it will take time for Newton to prove himself in the NFL, he’s on pace to pass for almost 5,000 yards as a rookie.

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