Zac Boyer will be entering his third season covering the Washington Redskins for The Free Lance-Star this fall. Make sure to follow Zac on Twitter (@ZacBoyer) for the latest updates or e-mail him with any questions at email@example.com.
Shanahan endorses Beck; Beck determined to win job
The Redskins completed the draft today without selecting a quarterback. So what does that say about coach Mike Shanahan’s confidence in quarterback John Beck?
“When he came out [of BYU] in 2007, you evaluate the quarterbacks every year, and he was by far my No. 1 guy,” Shanahan said Saturday evening. “I think the world of him, but I’m not going to get into detail.”
Shanahan said he ranked Beck ahead of even No. 1 pick JaMarcus Russell that year. Those are strong words.
At this point, then, it appears Beck is a leading candidate to be the Redskins’ starter next season. Multiple team sources believe Donovan McNabb will not be a contributing member of the team next season, and Rex Grossman is not under contract.
That leaves Beck, who hasn’t played a regular-season NFL game since he lost all four of his starts with Miami in his rookie year. As it turns out, Shanahan sees some serious potential in the 29-year-old.
“I’m not going to go through all his strengths and weaknesses because it’s everything you look for in a quarterback,” Shanahan said. “What does it take to be a great quarterback? No. 1, you’ve got to love the game. You’ve got to have passion. You’ve got to have a mindset.
“What I’m looking for is a guy that’s going to be first to work, last to leave. You’ve got to be able to run this offense at a very high level. He can do some things with his legs that a lot of quarterbacks can’t do. He’s in that 4.65-4.7 [-second 40-yard dash] range.”
Beck measured his excitement tonight after learning what Shanahan said. He has experienced the unpredictability of life as an NFL quarterback, so he knows nothing is certain. In Miami in 2008, for example, he competed for the starting job all training camp against Josh McCown, only to watch Chad Pennington get released by the New York Jets, sign with the Dolphins and take the job.
Still, Shanahan’s endorsement provided evidence for optimism.
“To have Coach Shanahan say those things, that is a great feeling because that’s why I worked so hard,” Beck said in a phone conversation tonight. “I’ve worked so hard behind closed doors, behind the scenes to have a coach who believed in me the way I believe in myself. So yes, to hear Coach Shanahan say that means a lot to me. It gets me excited and it makes me just want to work that much harder.”
Beck has been training in San Diego this offseason with star quarterbacks Drew Brees and Aaron Rogers. When the NFL announced on Thursday that teams would allow players into their facilities on Friday morning, Beck booked a 4:30 a.m. flight to Washington.
He was able to spend a few hours at Redskins Park, during which he chatted with Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Beck was not assured of the starting job, he said. Mike Shanahan told him to keep working hard.
Beck followed the draft from an Ashburn hotel room this weekend when he wasn’t throwing to wide receiver Anthony Armstrong. He was pleased that the Redskins didn’t draft a quarterback, but it didn’t greatly affect him.
“I had already convinced myself that I didn’t really care because if they bring anybody in, my mindset is I want to beat him,” Beck said. “And even if they don’t, nothing is going to be handed to me. My mindset is whatever group of quarterbacks I’m in, I want to be the guy who earns it.
“I look at it as it’s a great opportunity for me to try to prove myself on a football field. I’m the only one that knows how much I’ve been doing these past three years working my tail off for this opportunity. It obviously means a lot to me, but at the same time I also know you never know what tomorrow brings in the NFL.”