John Beck didn’t waste much time backing up an offseason’s worth of talk about how he deserved to be the Redskins starting quarterback.
We hadn’t seen Beck take a snap in a burgundy and gold uniform since last summer, but as far as first impressions in a meaningless 16-3 win over the Colts go, he did enough to set up a climactic two-week battle with Rex Grossman for the starting quarterback position in Washington.
In his preseason debut, Beck was cool and collected, showing a strong grasp of Kyle Shanahan’s offense as he went 14 of 17 for 140 yards. The offense scored on its first four possessions as Beck proved he could be the dependable quarterback he marketed himself to be throughout the summer.
After Grossman’s week one performance, it was tough to conceive Beck bouncing back in a competition that never really got underway. Beck took most of the first-team snaps while Grossman was waiting for the new CBA to be ratified. Once Grossman came back, Beck went out with a groin injury, leaving the former in the catbird seat.
Grossman didn’t disappoint with 207 yards and no turnovers in one half of work against the Steelers last week. Meanwhile Mike Shanahan held Beck out and announced he would get his chance in Indianapolis.
The margin for error was slight, but Beck displayed the necessary composure in what could’ve been the biggest game of his professional career to date. He made good decisions, protected the football and displayed an ability to move the pocket.
Beck’s mobility is a big reason why Mike Shanahan has lobbied for him. The coach loves quarterbacks who can roll out and make throws on the run and Beck is markedly better than Grossman in that respect.
Yet that one aspect alone shouldn’t grant Beck the starting job. Grossman has two years in this offense and despite his tendency towards turning the ball over, can stretch the field. Beck completed just one pass over 20 yards and spent most of the night checking down and dumping the ball off.
However, something neither quarterback has been able to do is score enough points. The Redskins have scored two touchdowns in nine trips to the red zone and have just 32 points in 75:54 of work.
Those stats don’t matter when the defense is currently giving up just five points per game, but when Eli Manning comes to town on September 11, the offense has to finish off more drives with touchdowns.
Beck even admitted to reporters after the game he needed to make a better throw to Terrence Austin on a third down inside the Colts 15. Austin had to stretch out to make the catch and fell a yard short of the marker.
Washington’s renovated ground game will add an element to what the offense can do, especially in the red zone, but if either quarterback can begin to capitalize upon the dominating time of possession totals and light up the scoreboard, the job is his.
The book has been written on Grossman, and while he’s not the second coming of John Elway, we know he can score points and move the ball. Until Friday we didn’t know anything about Beck.
Sure it’s a little unfair to put so much into one preseason game, but one game is all we have to go on in evaluating Beck. Luckily for him, he passed the eye test, making the most of his opportunity and perhaps even convincing the coaching staff they had the right idea when they traded for him last summer.
His future in Washington is still unknown, but with Mike Shanahan staking his reputation on him, Beck affirmed he can take command of an offense, minimize his mistakes and most importantly, lead the team to victory.
Something tells me that after Friday night we haven’t seen the last of him.