Shapiro: Can Beck remain 'the guy'?

Shapiro: Can Beck remain 'the guy'?
October 24, 2011, 10:39 pm
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By Len ShapiroCSNwashington.com
What the heck must John Beck have been thinking when he woke up Monday morning and perused the headline on Page D10 of the Washington Post sports section?

Theres no question that Beck isnt the answer at quarterback, it read, over a column that said pretty much the same thing.

Based on one performance, that premise seemed a tad too harsh considering everything Beck had to deal with in Sundays dispiriting 33-20 loss to the lowly Carolina Panthers, dropping Washingtons favorite football team back to 3-3 reality three weeks after the city was jumping on a playoff bandwagon.

Heres what Beck did not have going for him:

--Starting tight end Chris Cooley was inactive for the game with a broken hand and probably wont be able to play again until early December.

--The reshuffled offensive line featured three new faces in starting positions and Beck was fortunate to have been sacked only three times.

--Wide receiver Santana Moss, the teams leading receiver, suffered a broken bone in his hand in the first half and now will be out five to seven weeks, another major blow to a receiving corps that was not that potent to begin with.

--Running back Tim Hightower, who averaged 5.2 yards on 18 carries, most of them in the first half, was knocked out with a knee injury in the second. Washingtons leading rusher will now be out for the season with a torn ACL.

--The defense was dreadful for a second straight game, putting even more pressure on the new starting quarterback.

Beck himself was making his first start in four years, and thats an awful lot of rust for one man to scrape off in one for-real football game.

Becks numbers were fairly impressive22 completions in 37 attempts for 279 yards and a touchdown, with one interception and one lost fumble, good for a reasonably decent 80.8 quarterback rating.

And yet, those numbers were totally deceiving because as Beck himself said afterward, the only numerals that truly count are the ones on the scoreboard at the end of the game.

I just want to win, he told reporters afterward. Thats the No. 1 thingThats how you remain the No. 1 guy.

Will Beck now stay the No. 1 guy?

It would be hard to imagine Mike Shanahan going back to the previous No. 1, Rex Grossman, even if he recovers from the pneumonia that kept him in the locker room for the entire game taking fluids just in case he might have been needed.

A wise old scout once told me a long time ago there are reasons for everything in professional football, particularly when it comes to choosing your personnel. There are reasons other teams are willing to trade or cut their own men far beyond compensation in draft choices or other players.

There was a reason Grossman was unable to hang on in Chicago and be The Man for the Bears. There also was a reason John Beck was not the answer in Miami, where he last started a football game for a 1-15 team.

The fact that Grossman beat out Beck in the preseason also presents another reason to believe that neither one of them is the long-term solution for a team that almost certainly will have to consider drafting a quality quarterback in April, or spending draft choices or a lot of money in free agency to get better at the position.

Then again, the same wise old scout once told me there were exceptions, as well. Think Tom Brady taken in the sixth round. Or, for you old timers, Sonny Jurgensen coming to Washington in exchange for Norm Snead.

That being said, we have already seen what Grossman brings to the table. He can be very good, and also very bad and hes run the gamut in his nine-game stretch as the Redskins starter going back to the final four games of the 2010 season.

With such a shaky offensive line, Becks mobility more than anything else should make him the starter as long as he can stay upright. The fact that he can throw on the run and run with the football when necessary makes him the obvious choice to continue running the football team.

And who knows, maybe with more reps in practice and experience in real games, he might even live up to the promise that both Mike and Kyle Shanahan seem to have seen in him when they brought him in as No. 3 a year ago.

At the moment, though, the Redskins have no other choice. Theyve got to hope that Beck is an exception to the reason-for-everything rule. So far, it seems way too soon to tell based on a single performance.