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Is John Beck About to Get His Shot?

4 May 2011 Brett Richins 14 Comments

Beck may be poised to step into McNabb's shoes

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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  • Greg said:

    I’d love to see Beck get another chance (assuming the five-game travesty in Miami was his first “chance”), but I think it’s premature to pencil him in as the starter. As noted in the article, Washington may lose two of their three QBs. The logical conclusion is that they will trade for two more once the NFL is up and running again. I love the fact that Beck has a leg up, but there will still be competition.

    Also, it’s important to note that good coaches inspire their players. While some methods of inspiration are similar to great fireside talks, others are simply veiled threats delivered through the media. This one sounds a little bit like the latter. Here’s my translation: “McNabb, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Grossman, we don’t care if you stay or not, but if you think you’re better than Beck, you could be the #1 guy if you stick around.”

  • Brett Richins said:


    You are right, they will for sure go after some free agents to fill out the roster at QB. If they let Grossman walk, that will be a pretty good sign that Beck will be their starter.

  • Seasider said:

    Knowing Beck he has already memorized the entire Redskin playbook and watched and analyzed every snap that Steve Young and John Elway took under Shanahan’s offense. If the Redskins can give him the supporting cast he needs, he has a shot. Beck’s main problem is his history of injuries but he’s also shown that he can still perform at a high level when playing hurt. He played most of the 2006 season on 2 bad ankles. This will likely be Beck’s last realistic shot at becoming a starter in the NFL and he knows he’s not getting any younger.

  • manaen said:

    I wish the best for Beck but —

    “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.”

    — well could be because he was given every opportunity to show what he can do *off* the field of play and what he showed there wasn’t enough to be given the chance to take a snap in a game in over three years.

    Hoping I’m wrong, but just sayin’.

  • Jeff said:

    How good is Washington’s line?

  • Eric said:

    Obviously, there have been some guys in the league that were 2nd or 3rd QB on their roster and stuck for years until their opportunity came or they developed. I give you Tony Romo as just one example of a guy who has become a star after years as a so called clipboard holder. Now, the majority of NFL fans are John Beck detractors because there was so much negative opinion and rumor after his starts in Miami where his offensive line was so pitiful that defensive players where rushing through the guard and tackle position untouched or unopposed and Beck had to run around in the backfield looking like a fool. IF Shanahan will give Beck six starts and IF he will leave him in the game showing commitment to Beck no matter what to allow Beck to get past the jitters, and IF his offensive line will perform for him and protect, John Beck will become a star also.

  • Spencer said:

    Beck is definitely my favorite byu qb of all time. The guy was a stud in 2006 and should’ve taken us to a bcs bowl that year had it not been for a couple of close loses. I definitely am confident that beck could be a pro bowler if the skins will let him develop like the 49ers have done with Alex smith. Here’s to hoping they make the right decision.

  • Ryan F said:

    Glad to be here in the Washington DC area. Went to watch him play in a pre-season game against the Ravens. Ended up seeing Pitta be the leading receiver for the Ravens that night….

    Would be fun to watch Beck start. He has eyes in the back of his head.

  • BlueBoy said:

    History is integral to understanding any player. If you know intimately how they developed at different levels, you’ll know what to expect at the level you’re evaluating.

    Beck proved at BYU that given the chance to understand and gain confidence, he’s a top-notch QB. His first year at Miami very much coincided with his freshman year at BYU. He simply looked incompetent.

    If Shanahan gives him half a chance, he’ll surprise a lot of people.

  • Seasider said:

    “– well could be because he was given every opportunity to show what he can do *off* the field of play and what he showed there wasn’t enough to be given the chance to take a snap in a game in over three years.”

    There might be some truth to that but I think you’re oversimplifying his situation. Beck in 2008 was a casualty of what happens when the coach that drafted you gets fired after your first year and the new management and new coach want their own guys. A lot of the time it has little to with talent and just a matter of a coach wanting players that he picked. In Baltimore, Beck often received a lot of praise from coaches and players for leadership and willingness to help younger teammates understand the offense. The problem with being in Baltimore was that they already had an established starting QB in Joe Flaaco and he was 4 years younger than Beck. Staying in Baltimore for Beck meant that he would likely end his career as a bench warmer. By going to Washington, Beck is now with a Super Bowl winning coach who thinks very highly of him. I guess we’ll see what happens.

  • Ryan F said:

    Yeah. Enough can’t be said that Shanahan specifically likes Beck. Both he and his OC son deliberately wanted him when they traded with Baltimore. Shanahan had his eye on Beck since college, just as the article points out.

    I would love to see Beck start here and do well.

  • Steven said:

    Nothing would please me more than seeing Beck start. He’s been over shadowed by others ever since he entered the NFL. It would be absolutly fantantic to see him have a chnace to shine. Good luck to him!!

  • Hampton said:

    I heard that Beck has been spending a ton of time with Mark Rypien. That’s got to be a sign.

  • 1984Cougs said:

    @ Manaen

    I would say that you are wrong. Look at the career…
    2007 – Plays for Miami, probably the worst team in NFL history. Only 2 offensive players from that team were on the roster the following year under Parcells
    2008 – Miami still stinks but now Parcells is starting to get his guys, and Beck doesn’t fit the system, getting ready to ship.
    2009 – Signed by Baltimore…obviously not going to start of the younger QB who just took his team deep into the playoffs
    2010 – Traded to Washington to sit behind McNabb…another proven, albeit old, QB who was brought in at the same time to be the guy to turn around the Skins season.

    Fact of the matter is that he has yet to be in a situation where he was even in competition for the starting job.

    This year he is. So if after this year he is not the starter than your argument can carry weight.

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