Last summer, the Redskins parted way with two men who were supposed to be franchise quarterbacks: Jason Campbell...and Colt Brennan.
I'm joking about that last one, but some fans will always claim Brennan was a franchise-caliber guy.
It didn't come as much of a surprise; the Redskins traded for Donovan McNabb one year ago. Rex Grossman was signed to the team when Kyle Shanahan was bought on as offensive coordinator. The Redskins bought in Richard Bartel, presumably to push Colt Brennan, if he was going to be the third quarterback on the roster.
Then, on August 2nd, 2010, the Redskins traded cornerback Doug Dutch for former Brigham Young University quarterback John Beck. Beck had previously been drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the second round of the 2007 draft. Though he was never meant to play in that season, injuries first Beck to become the starter.
He did not fare well, and when then Dolphins head coach Cam Cameron was fired, Beck was left out in the dark. He signed with the Ravens and was reunited with his coach (who became the Ravens offensive coordinator), but by the summer of 2010, Beck was deemed as expendable.
Jason Campbell had already been traded to the Oakland Raiders by then, and the Redskins released Brennan.
It probably depends on your view of things whether or not John Beck looked impressive in the 2010 preseason or not. Did he outperform Richard Bartel? Certainly and completely; even while Beck was digesting a completely different offense than any other one he'd been a part of, Bartel looked lost and flustered most of the time, despite being a veteran.
Did Beck's performance quiet the Cult of Colt or instill faith that, if need be, John Beck would be able to come in and start and win?
Yeah, not so much.
That's why it was so shocking when the Redskins gave Beck a $2.25, three-year extension that would keep him with the team through the 2012 season. This was at a point at which neither Donovan McNabb or Rex Grossman, the number one and two quarterbacks on the roster, had a deal.
Flash forward to now, and John Beck, the man who got Colt Brennan fired, the man who only barely beat out Richard Bartel for the third string quarterback job, the man who couldn't even get on the field during the benching debacle of 2010, is the only quarterback (technically) signed to the roster.
Stop me if your head just exploded.
The Redskins recently conducted their own minicamp for players only, and John Beck made his intentions known; he wants to be the starting quarterback, and he is taking the potential opportunity absolutely serious.
"I want to be the guy," Beck told Rich Campbell after the Redskins second minicamp. "Rex knows I want to be the starter. That's what I'm planning."
If the Donovan McNabb fiasco proved anything, it's that anything is possible in Redskins Park right now. Beck has as much chance of being the starter as Rex Grossman, whatever quarterback the Redskins draft, and whatever free agent there is.
But can he be? Can Beck be the guy?
He's taking it seriously, that's for sure. During the offseason, Beck has been working out with the past two Super Bowl MVP's, Drew Brees and Aaron Rogers. Beck is not sitting back and an accepting his role as Rex's backup; he's preparing for the gig like hes a starting quarterback.
And for some reason, that makes the fact the Beck, last season's afterthought, could start next season...not seem quite as bad.
Though Rex played adequately at the end of last season, the though that Grossman could be the starter come opening day still frightens people. Maybe people warming up to the idea of Beck being the starter springs from the fact that it might be better to go with the evil you don't know than the evil you do.
After all, in theory, Beck has all the things Mike Shanahan likes in a quarterback. He can be accurate within the pocket. He's mobile and has the ability to make plays with his legs. He has a big arm. He's also on the right team; Coach Shanahan has shown time and time again that he is willing to bench his players if they underperform. If Rex underperforms in preseason, and whatever rookie quarterback we draft isn't ready, then boom. Beck can be the starter.
All that being said, suffice it to say, if Beck was a franchise caliber quarterback, it seems likely that he'd already be one for a football team. Beck is 30 years old, which, at best, gives him five-to-seven years as a starter. He hasn't had any sort of significant playing time since his time in Miami.
Perhaps the most damning evidence against him is the fact that he wasn't given an opportunity to play at the end of last season. While the Redskins were in full blown evaluation mode, Beck never managed to work his way into taking a snap under center. While part of this can attributed to Grossman playing decently in his three game stretch, one has to think that if Beck was going to be given his opportunity, he would've been given it.
In the DMV, though, work ethic is everything. After years of overpaid, underachieving free agents, the idea that a man who was the third-string quarterback for much of the season last year could be preparing with two Super Bowl winners like he was the starting quarterback is somehow...comforting. Not because John Beck has the overwhelming potential to at long last be a fixture at the quarterback position, but more because he's preparing like it.
That Beck and Grossman both showed up for the Redskins work out is enough to convince me that the Redskins aren't in quite as bad shape at the quarterback position as thought. At the very least, they're both serious about taking over the reigns.
Is Beck a franchise quarterback? Probably not. But his desire to start and his preparation to be a starter is admirable. And stranger things happened. Who knows; John Beck could end up at least being a short term answer to the Redskins quarterback woes.
After all, it's not like the "real" franchise quarterback Donovan McNabb showed up to stake a claim to the spot.
Could turn out that Beck ends up shocking us all.