Is John Beck About to Get His Shot?
Could this be the season that former BYU quarterback John Beck finally gets his chance to show what he can do as an NFL quarterback?
The Washington Redskins and head coach Mike Shanahan appear to be willing to give the former Cougar his first legitimate opportunity to lead a team — if of course we have a season this year.
The Redskins are sure to cut loose veteran Donovan McNabb as soon as teams are allowed to make roster moves.
Meanwhile, Rex Grossman, who the Redskins acquired last season along with McNabb, is set to become a free agent and there is plenty of speculation that he may be moving along as well.
With the distinct possibility that they could lose their top two quarterbacks on the roster, it was curious that the Redskins elected not to select a quarterback in last week’s draft.
Perhaps it is because they have confidence in Beck’s ability.
Following the conclusion of the draft on Saturday, Shanahan revealed that he felt Beck was the best quarterback in the 2007 draft when he was taken in the second round as the 40th pick overall by the Miami Dolphins. John was the fourth QB taken behind JaMarcus Russell, Brady Quinn and Kevin Kolb.
“Let me say, when John Beck did come out (of college), I had him rated as the top quarterback coming out that year, and I didn’t even think it was close,” Shanahan told the DC media on Saturday.
“I had a lot of confidence in John Beck when he came out in 2007. I evaluate the quarterbacks every year, and I do have confidence in John Beck. He was by far my No. 1 guy. I think the world of him. He has not disappointed me since he’s been here.”
The Redskins are the third team that the 29-year old has played for in his four seasons in the league. He has appeared in just five games in his career, but did start four of those — all for the Miami Dolphins in his rookie season.
The Dolphins were a horrendous team in 2007 under head coach Cam Cameron, winning just one game. Perhaps the only thing worse than the Dolphins’ record was the Miami offensive line. Playing behind that line, Beck ended up completing 56 percent of his passes, going 60-107 for 559 yards and one touchdown. He threw three interceptions, fumbled five times and was sacked 10 times.
In 2008, the Dolphins brought in Bill Parcells as their new VP of Football Operations.
Parcells fired Cameron and brought in his own guys and Beck found himself riding the pine behind Chad Pennington and rookie Chad Henne. He was released during the following offseason, but was quickly picked up by the Baltimore Ravens, who had since hired Cameron as their offensive coordinator.
Beck never saw the field in 2009 in Baltimore, sitting behind star Joe Flacco. Then in the summer of 2010, the Ravens signed veteran Marc Bulger as a back up to Flacco and Beck once again became expendable.
In August of last year he was traded to Washington and subsequently signed a two-year $2.25 million dollar extension. He spent all of last season as the scout team quarterback for the Skins.
If he does end being given the opportunity to run the show in the nation’s capitol, Beck may turn out to be a flop. He might just as well turn out to be a Pro Bowl player.
The fact is, he has never really been given an opportunity to show what he can do on the field of play. He hasn’t even been given the chance to take a snap in a game in over three years.
As the trigger man in Shanahan’s West Coast offense, Beck may have the best chance of his career to establish himself as a quarterback in the league. Shanahan has shown a magic touch over the years in developing running backs and coaching up offensive lines. That’s just what the doctor would order to help BYU’s third all-time career passing leader jump start his professional career.
What Beck has fought through in his four-plus years in the NFL, is not unlike the difficulties he overcame in college.
Because of injuries at quarterback, Beck was forced into a starting role as a true freshman at BYU in 2003. He struggled in his first two seasons while the Gary Crowton era came crashing down. Injuries, rotating quarterbacks, questionable play calling and a never-ending play book all worked to keep the Mesa, Arizona native’s head spinning.
As a junior in 2005 he was asked to direct a completely different offense, one patterned after Texas Tech’s. He began to get his feet under him under the tutelage of new offensive coordinator Robert Anae and new quarterbacks coach Brandon Doman, and he helped lead BYU to its first non-losing season and its first berth in a bowl in four years.
By the time his senior season rolled around, Beck began to look as if he had fully made the transition from wide-eyed to dead-eyed. BYU had one of its finest offensive showings in history, averaging over 36 points per game while throttling back in the second half of many of its games. Beck completed 70 percent of his passes and amassed nearly 4,000 yards through the air.
He had several memorable games that year, including conducting a 31-17 clinic at 15th-ranked TCU, a 38-8 shellacking of Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl, and a tossing of what would become known as the “answered prayer” in a 33-31 come-from-behind win at arch-rival Utah to secure a Mountain West Conference title.
After fighting through adversity and disappointment in a difficult early career at BYU, Beck had led the Cougar program back to prominence by his senior season and helped put BYU on a path to toward reclaiming its proud tradition.
Perhaps time will now repeat itself in his professional career — if in fact he is given the opportunity.
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