John Beck Aiming To Be Long-Term Solution For Redskins At Quarterback
This story appeared on page B1 of Sunday’s Free Lance-Star
ASHBURN – To be a quarterback for the Washington Redskins requires a certain amount of athletic prowess, mental preparation and historical perspective.
After all, it hasn’t been since the days of Joe Theismann nearly two decades ago that the Redskins could safely say they had a cornerstone passer.
Mark Rypien tried and, to some degree, succeeded. Gus Frerotte, Mark Brunell, Jason Campbell and 22 others all stepped under center at the start of a game and later dis-covered, in a variety of ways, they weren’t fit for the job.
John Beck understands this. As quarterback No. 26, Beck is keen enough to understand that being a starting quarterback is a fleeting thing.
It’s happened to him before, when he was touted as the quarterback of the future in Miami four years ago, and he just saw what happened to Rex Grossman, now a backup after mediocre results in eight starts in Washington.
“You have to be able to shoulder a lot,” Beck said last week. “You have to be able to have thick skin. Things change in the blink of an eye. You’ve always got to be ready.”
Having a franchise quarterback isn’t always a necessity for a winning team. Consider Doug Williams, who started just two games during the 1987 season and played in three others before being given the responsibility for the playoffs and leading the Redskins to a victory in Super Bowl XXII.
Even Chris Chandler, with Atlanta in 1998, and Grossman, with Chicago in 2006, failed to achieve long-term success with their teams.
But Beck is currently viewed as the solution for the Redskins – the player head coach Mike Shanahan believes can lead the team to long-term success. Beginning today in Carolina, he’ll have that opportunity.
“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. When I said I had a lot of confidence in these quarterbacks, I do. John’s one of those guys that I believe in, that he’s going to have a great future. Now he’s going to have his opportunity to show us what he can do.”
Shanahan originally voiced his support of Beck after April’s draft, when the Redskins opted not to select a quarterback – considered at the time a position of need.
The 30-year-old Beck, who played collegiately at Brigham Young, was given a chance with the Dolphins during his rookie season in 2007. But he struggled, lost his starting job and ended up in Baltimore before being acquired by the Redskins prior to last season.
Coincidentally, it is against a team that believes it has found its franchise quarterback that Beck will make his first start. Cam Newton, a Heisman Trophy winner who led Auburn to a national championship last season, was made the top overall pick by the Panthers, who did so with an eye on solidifying a position they struggled with in recent years.
“This really has become a quarterback’s league,” said Ron Rivera, in his first year as the Panthers’ head coach. “I know a lot of the rules are slanted towards passing games, and teams that have these franchise-style quarterbacks are the ones that you see constantly at the top.
“You hear so many teams go, ‘Oh, if we just had a quarterback.’ I think we’ve gotten to that point where it looks like we’ve got the guy who’s developing. He’ll be a stabilizing force for us at that position for years to come, hopefully. We can focus and concentrate on other things like finding and keeping playmakers to be around him, building our lines, building the offensive and defensive sides of the ball without constantly having to worry and focus on the quarterback position.”
The decision to turn to Beck comes at a slightly peculiar time for the Redskins. Grossman threw four interceptions against Philadelphia a week ago and was replaced by Beck to start the fourth quarter – a period Shanahan points to as instrumental in his decision to go with Beck this week.
Still, the Redskins enter today at 3–2 and in second place in the NFC East. And they are beginning a stretch where they play two of their next three games on the road and the lone home contest against San Francisco, a division leader.
“Yeah, it definitely sends the message that they want to win, and that’s why you play this game,” Redskins running back Tim Hightower said. “When you make a quarterback change like that, it’s a standard that’s set. I think that sends a very loud message to the rest of the guys on offense of: ‘Hey, get your stuff together. We need guys to make plays.’ It’s not later, it’s now.”
Beck has said he will not try to focus on any long-term goals while serving as the starter. He doesn’t want to lose any sense of urgency to succeed now that might come with doing so.
What he does want to do, though, is win. In Shanahan’s second year, the Redskins are poised to be able to do that. Whether it’s a theme through the future or simply a temporary achievement is unknown. There’s no guarantee either way.
“We’re all here in this league because we have an ability to play the game, and the things that take away from that are the over-thinking or the worrying,” Beck said. “You just can’t do that.”