The season didn’t go anything like quarterback John Beck had envisioned. He, like all of his teammates, wishes he could have a do-over. But even though he opened the season as the backup, went winless in three mid-season starts and wound up on the bench again, Beck remains confident that his best football remains ahead of him.
The Washington Redskins are expected to upgrade the quarterback position this offseason, but Beck — the only quarterback under contract with the team for 2012 — still hasn’t counted himself out.
In three games and a quarter of action, Beck completed 60.6 percent of his passes for 858 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions while getting sacked 16 times.
After a promising season debut during the fourth quarter against Philadelphia in Week 6, Beck unseated Rex Grossman as starter, and the following week against Carolina, he threw for a touchdown and rushed for another, but Washington still lost.
Beck struggled the following week against Buffalo and was sacked 10 times – a franchise worst for the Redskins – and Washington went scoreless, marking the first time a Mike Shanahan-coached team had gone an entire game without mustering a point. After the game, Shanahan blamed Beck for half of the sacks, saying the quarterback held onto the ball too long and lacked the anticipation needed to make plays.
The next week, a jittery Beck settled for check-down passes, connecting with running back Roy Helu on 14 of his 30 completions, while missing open receivers downfield. Washington mustered only 11 points and lost again.
Shanahan repeatedly said before the season – both publicly and privately – that he believed Beck could blossom into a franchise quarterback. But after the 0-3 showing and the Redskins’ offense averaging just 11 points a game during the skid, the coach was in danger of losing the locker room, according to people within the organization. So Shanahan gave Beck got the hook, going back to Grossman before the following game. Beck didn’t see the field the final nine games of the season.
“This didn’t shake down the way I wanted it to, but it doesn’t change my mind-set one bit,” Beck said this week. “It doesn’t change the way I believe, and I still think there’s a lot of good things for this team and for myself.”
Prior to this season, Beck had spent three seasons waiting for a chance to play. He started the final four games of his rookie season with the Miami Dolphins, but watched as a backup for Miami, Baltimore and Washington, respectively, from 2008 to 2010.
Following last April’s draft, when Washington passed on selecting a quarterback, Shanahan said Beck would have a chance to compete for the starting job, and the quarterback spent the locked-out offseason training with Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees and while also getting together with Redskins receivers to prepare for his opportunity.
But the more experienced Grossman won the job in the preseason.
Beck said rather than dwell on the negatives of the season, he’ll hang his hat on the positives that he showed in the Philadelphia and Carolina games, and also use the lessons learned in the other two games to help him get better.
“I told myself I wanted to be ready if I had an opportunity,” Beck said. “And I got the opportunity in the Philly game. And if I didn’t play well in the Philadelphia game, I probably wouldn’t be able to play the rest of the season. So I’m happy with what I did. I did play well and earned another game. And I felt things went well in the Carolina game, and I earned the opportunity to play in another game.
“It’s very easy to stand here and say, ‘Next time I want to be more aggressive.’ … That was a tricky spot, and being quarterback, it’s so easy to second-guess everything,” Beck added. “It happens to us inside the building, happens to us outside the building. That’s why it’s so tough to play this position. But, it’s why I love it. I love challenges and I love waking up trying to get better. I woke up with my whole mind-set on 2012 because what’s done is done.”