John Beck should think that he’s talented enough to be a starting quarterback, because the desire to succeed and thrive in a starting role is the most essential requirement at his position.
Backups aren’t starters for a reason. But backups at other positions can still make a contribution. A running back can receive a small handful of carries as a change-of-pace runner, and a linebacker could make a momentum-changing special teams play.
If the starter isn’t injured or playing especially poorly, the backup quarterback’s only contribution to a win are the pencil markings he’s making on the paper held by his clipboard, and whatever he says into his headset.
It’s a lonely existence, which is why Beck spoke out during a recent interview with a Utah radio station. Despite all the beatings he’s taken as a starter in Washington and briefly in Miami five years ago, Beck’s drive still hasn’t wavered, and neither has his belief that he’ll get another chance.
Whether you’re listening to him talk during his interview on the Gary Monson Show or reading his words, the impact is the same. This guy’s future as a motivational speaker is bright, and significantly more promising than his career as a quarterback.
Transcribed by Hogs Haven, Beck said that he was fueled by a fury of passion when he went into Mike Shanahan’s office as another Redskins season was being put to rest.
“I feel without a doubt I can be a better quarterback. I told our coaches this at the end of the season. I went into coach Shanahan’s office and said, ‘I want to play right now.’ This is very frustrating for me to have had my opportunity, to made the most of it when he put me in, I made the most of it, but the games following it didn’t go the way we wanted. It’s tough for me to say now I’m not playing. I’m like ‘coach, I want to play because having that experience I know I can play better.’ And he said, ‘I know you can too, but right now we’re in this situation. There’ll be another opportunity down the road and you just got to make sure you’re ready for it.’ So, there’s where my mindset is at. I believe there will be another opportunity. When it comes I have no control over.”
Beck’s mind is in the right place, and it’s the only place where he’ll be able to maintain any mental sanity.
Shanny said what he has to say when a fiery, motivated player approaches him with the deep desire to play. Reality is a harsh beast, and it says there’s an entirely different future in store for Beck and any player solely employed for their ability to throw a football in Washington.
After Rex Grossman won the starting job in training camp and then proceeded to play like Rex Grossman over the first four games, Beck came in halfway through a Week 6 loss to Philadelphia. He then started the next three games, which were all losses by a combined score of 75-31.
The lowlight of Beck’s feeble attempt to imitate an NFL quarterback during that stretch came in Week 8 against Buffalo. That’s when he led an offense that scored the lowest amount of points allowable in an NFL game, although if it were possible we’re sure Beck would have posted red figures. He was sacked 10 times, losing yardage that covered over half the field (56 yards).
It’s quite remarkable that Beck was allowed to remain in that game with his quarterback rating of 53.6, since it felt as though Shanahan could have grabbed any Redskins fan at Rogers Centre in Toronto that day and achieved similar or maybe better results.
We’d like to see this guy get a tryout…
Beck had four interceptions over his four game appearances and two touchdowns while averaging 214.5 passing yards. Even with those poor numbers, his lack of experience as a starter, and his somewhat advanced age (he’ll turn 31 in August), he’s still a fine backup at the bargain price of $1.3 million during the final year of his contract in 2012.
Grossman is a free agent, and he certainly isn’t the answer either after he had 25 turnovers (20 interceptions, five fumbles lost), and completed a mediocre 57.9 percent of his passes while averaging only slightly more yardage per game than Beck (225.1).
But there’s faint hope for Beck in Washington, and therefore strong nightmares for Redskins fans. Grossman is a free agent, and Shanahan may have had it with the idling Bears castoff and overall draft bust. There will be a strong push to either sign Matt Flynn, or take a risk on Peyton Manning’s health when he inevitably becomes available.
There’s also the draft and Robert Griffin III, but landing RG3 will require the movement of sizable assets to jump up from the No. 6 hole, likely through a trade with the Browns at No. 4.
One of those life lines will likely latch on to the desired catch, who will then restore respectability to a languishing position in Washington. But the possibility that Shanahan could be left with Grossman and Beck again–or maybe just Beck–is still very real, and very scary.