With the Shanahans apparently determined to promote the former third-stringer, one thought comes to mind: For their sake, this had better work.
Mike Shanahan had an awful first year leading the team, which included his disastrous trade for McNabb, and Kyle played a key role in the six-time Pro Bowler feeling betrayed by the organization. If Beck succeeds, Shanahan’s gamble will have paid off. If Beck fails, however, owner Daniel Snyder should ask himself some difficult questions about the person in charge of the football operation. It would also seem appropriate for Snyder to closely examine the Redskins’ father-son coaching dynamic.
Going for it on fourth down is a risky coaching decision. Going with Beck as “The Guy” in Washington could be a career-ender for the elder Shanahan. Kyle’s apparent fast-track path to an NFL head coaching position also may be derailed, at least temporarily, if it turns out Beck was the wrong choice.
No matter how much Beck impressed the Shanahans during his productive career at Brigham Young and while directing Washington’s scout team offense last season, it’s almost unfathomable they would actually name him as the Redskins’ starter. In relying on Beck, whom the team acquired last August in a trade with Baltimore, Mike Shanahan would risk his once-strong reputation on someone who has not taken a meaningful snap in three seasons and turns 30 in August.
When I asked him about Beck early in the 2010 season, Kyle gushed, saying he’s passionate about football, has a great work ethic, possesses enough arm strength to make all the throws and is a good athlete. None of that, however, means Beck would perform adequately, let alone thrive, inside the fishbowl of being the No. 1 quarterback in these parts.
All that said, the season remains in jeopardy, and the Shanahans’ thinking could always change. If they follow through with their plan, though, Beck would immediately become the most scrutinized person in the District not named Barack Obama. Possessing the physical tools to play quarterback is only a small part of the biggest job for the region’s most popular sports franchise. I learned that from former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, who understood this market and the Redskins’ fan base better than most.