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Can John Beck Rescue the Redskins?

Quarterback making his first start since 2007

By Jack Anderson
|  Thursday, Oct 20, 2011  |  Updated 9:01 AM EDT
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Can John Beck Rescue the Redskins?

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Washington Redskins quarterback John Beck (12) slips a tackle by Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011. The Eagles defeated the Redskins 20-13. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

For better or worse the Redskins have moved on to John Beck – he of four career starts is the latest quarterback to try his hand under center in Washington.

“I’m definitely excited,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “There’s been a lot of hard work that’s gone into this and you never know when your opportunity is going to come so you always have to stay ready.”

The wait has paid off for Beck, yet it remains to be seen whether he can handle himself week in and week out against NFL competition. Mike Shanahan is taking a huge risk casting his lot in with Beck this early in the season, but here he is starting his third quarterback in the last 21 games.

If Beck doesn’t pan out, things get messy. A switch back to Rex Grossman might damage Shanahan’s reputation after he spoke so glowingly of both in training camp. If neither live up to the hype, how quickly will fans turn their backs on him?

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, because with Beck, there’s an unknown factor that makes him a wild card. He’s barely played in the last five years. People don’t know what he can be and that’s why he’s so damn intriguing.

Beck’s mobility has always been his biggest selling point and he showed it off against the Eagles. The Redskins rolled him out frequently and Beck moved the pocket himself on several occasions, avoiding the rush and picking up a first down on a nice 12-yard run.

He also added a two-yard touchdown run late to bring Washington within a score of Philadelphia.

“It was a situation where he had to go get it done in the fourth quarter,” Shanahan said. “We had nine first downs in the fourth quarter and that’s pretty impressive for a guy coming off the bench. To throw him in the situation, that’s pretty tough.”

Beck’s scrambling ability is what separates him from Grossman. It gives Kyle Shanahan more flexibility as a playcaller and it also takes some pressure off a battered offensive line.

Aside from drafting Trent Williams, the Redskins have paid little attention to upgrading a line that’s lacked consistency over the past few seasons and once again it’s proven to be costly. Now Washington heads to Carolina with a new quarterback and a new contingent of blockers – not the ideal scenario just five weeks into the year.

“Anytime you lose starters, especially guys of that caliber, it’s going to be tough but I feel strongly about the guys that we are bringing in,” Beck said. “You have to have guys that step up and make plays. That’s their opportunity to step in there and show what they can do.”

Beck says and does all the right things. It’s hard to not root for such a classy individual and there’s no doubt in regard to his work ethic or desire to succeed.

But with so little experience, the question is can he?

“I think he’s a very talented quarterback that really hasn’t had his shot yet to prove who he can be in this league,” said Santana Moss. “I mean he’s one of those guys that wants to prove himself. You watch him every day — man, he’s one of those guys that really gets into what he does. I’m just really looking forward to his opportunity.”

As are the rest of us.

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