The good news for Beck: Coach Mike Shanahan will give him at least one more shot next week at Miami. The bad: Beck has done little in three starts this season to suggest he’ll be a long-term fixture as the Washington Redskins’ quarterback.
“I don’t want it to continue,” he said of the team’s offensive woes. “I want to put my foot down, and I want it to stop.”
Saying he’s “going to stick with John,” Shanahan offered something of a defense of his beleaguered quarterback. All of the team’s problems shouldn’t fall solely on Beck’s shoulders, he said.
“Sometimes it looks like it’s all the quarterback,” Shanahan said, “and it’s understandable. When you lose a few pieces to the puzzle, the quarterback’s going to look pretty average. And we’re playing pretty average as a group.”
After four straight losses, “average” would be a big step up for the Redskins right now. Except for one late drive, they struggled to mount any sort of an attack against the 49ers, failing again to establish a running game and relying primarily on short dink and dunk passes, mainly to running back Roy Helu. They reached the 49ers 20-yard line just once.
The Redskins’ longest play of the day, in fact, was a 17-yard pass to Helu — the product of a batted ball that happened to land in the rookie running back’s hands.
“I guess if we had an answer, it’d be fixed,” left tackle Trent Williams said of the team’s woes.
The Redskins’ top offensive weapon this season has been Fred Davis, but he didn’t notch his first catch until late in the fourth quarter. Like several teammates around him, he didn’t help his cause with drops and mistakes.
But Davis and wide receiver Jabar Gaffney both said they were open numerous times downfield. Beck, they said, just didn’t spot them.
“I was getting open,” said Davis, who finished with 42 yards on four catches. “A few times I was open, I don’t know if Beck had enough time to hit me.”
Said Gaffney: “For whatever reason, John goes through his reads, a lot of times he didn’t come to me. That’s neither here nor there. That’s for coach to talk to John about.”
With Santana Moss out due to injury, Gaffney is the team’s top receiver. He had 40 yards on four receptions and the team’s lone touchdown.
“I don’t want to be like a selfish guy, going, ‘Hey, I’m open, I’m open, I’m open,’ ” he said. “But it’s certain times during the game where I will look to him like, ‘Hey, just throw it. Throw it to me. Give me a chance to turn things around.’ ”
Shanahan said San Francisco’s zone defense prevented the Redskins from getting open receivers downfield, but Beck said after the game he could have done a better job of finding big-yardage plays.
“There were a few where I could have waited a second longer and had a shot at something. . . . [Kyle Shanahan] and I were standing on the sideline,” said Beck, “and we said, ‘Hey, you know what? Just wait a half-second longer and it’ll get into this hole and we can shoot it there.’ ”
Instead, the Redskins kept dumping the ball off to Helu out of the backfield, hoping he could find holes. Helu finished with a franchise-record 14 catches, tallying 105 receiving yards.
He was one of three rookies who started for the first time Sunday. Shanahan said going with a younger lineup will involve growing pains, which was evidenced continually Sunday.
“Eventually it's going to pay dividends when some of these young guys get playing time,” he said. “But as a group, when you have that many new pieces . . . it does look a little rag-tag. That’s the reason we were so inconsistent today.”
The Redskins had one good drive Sunday, but it was late in the fourth quarter when the game was already out of reach. Beck was 9 of 10 for 72 yards on the drive, which was capped by a nine-yard touchdown pass to Gaffney. Outside of that possession, Beck was only 21-of-37 passing for 182 yards and an interception.
Shanahan realizes that even if all 11 players on offense struggle, most of the blame will be directed at the quarterback. Beck seems to understand that, as well.
The game had been over for nearly 90 minutes and the locker room was mostly empty Sunday evening, save for the athletic tape and trash that littered the floor. His teammates had long since hit the road when Beck was finally dressed and slowly walked out of FedEx Field.
“We do have to get better,” he said after the game, “and it starts with me.”