Even in full lockout mode, the Redskins can't seem to escape offseason drama. Well, it's not really drama; more likely, it's offseason hype, as John Beck has loudly proclaimed that he wants the starting job for the Washington Redskins, and every day the lockout draws on, the Redskins get one step closer to actually starting Beck on opening day of the 2011 season.
For the most part, Beck's boldness and his work ethic have been lauded in D.C. After the bashful mumbling of Jason Campbell and the laid back, well-spoken but possibly lazy workings of Donovan McNabb, the fanbase actually likes that they have a quarterback with a little bit a fire, that shows some hunger and drive to actually get on the field.
However, there is another portion of the fanbase that's less than enthused.
To them, Beck simply can't start for the Redskins. It's not hard to see why; in three years, he's only played four games (all losses) and never been able to crack a starting line-up. Whether that's his fault or the fault of some off-the-field politics is anyone's guess, but Beck, as of right now, is a completely unknown entity. Mike Shanahan likes him, and he's had luck with lesser quarterbacks before, but that doesn't mean a whole lot.
The argument is completely valid, and people have every right to be skeptical. Beck shouldn't be handed anything, anyway; he will have to compete for and earn the job. Shanahan usually carries four quarterbacks into training camp, so it's foolish to think that Beck should simply be handed the reigns. He'll have to compete and prove he can win the job before the head coach will give him the job. Shanahan doesn't want to lose, and he's going to go with the guy who gives him the best chance of winning.
There is a third portion of the fanbase, though. A third which I think really, really needs to go away.
Soon after Shanahan announced that McNabb would be benched for the season's last three games, on NFL Network, future Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk insinuated the Redskins were only putting Rex in the game to tank the season and improve their position in the draft in the hopes of drafting a quarterback.
The 'Skins proved him wrong by not selecting a quarterback in the first round, even when one fell into their lap at the number 10 position. Mike Shanahan doesn't "tank" anything, and to suggest he would is insulting a coach that has three Super Bowl rings (one as the offensive coordinator in San Fransisco, two as head coach of the Denver Broncos) and has made the playoffs with quarterbacks like Gus Ferrotte.
But since McNabb's benching there has been a camp of fans who believe that the 2011 season is a lost one. And that that's a good thing. At first it was Rex, and now it's John Beck, who they want to start.
Because if either one of them start, the Redskins can't possibly win. And every incompletion they have, every sack they take behind the o-line, every loss adds up.
What does it add up to?
The number one pick, and the chance to draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.
They don't want John Beck or Rex Grossman to start because they have a chance of winning. They don't even particularly want the team to succeed. They want to the Redskins to lose, because if they lose, we'll get a quarterback everyone generally believes is a can't miss prospect.
A year ago, Jimmy Clausen was a "can't miss" prospect. A quarterback that Mel Kiper swore up and down the Redskins would take in the first round, Clausen fell to the second. He was forced to start before he was ready, and on a team hampered by injuries, he struggled. Now, he's staring down a career as a back-up after his team drafted a quarterback with the first overall pick, through a situation that was no fault of his own.
Just a season ago, it was widely believed that Jake Locker would've been the first quarterback off the board in 2010. When he didn't come out, people immediately dubbed him the first quarterback off the board in 2011. Well, he was the second quarterback taken in the 2011 NFL Draft, but it came as a shock; instead of progressing, Locker's stats took a hit, and by draft weekend, some projected him to sink all the way to the third round.
The NFL is littered with quarterbacks who were supposed to be "can't miss, surefire prospects," who fell by the wayside. Of every position on the field, there's probably no position harder to predict than that of quarterback.
While Andrew Luck is talented, he's far from can't miss. The idea that the Redskins should start anyone with the intention of drafting him is not only baffling, but damn insulting to everyone in the organization. From the coaching staff, to the players, to people in the front office and even Dan Snyder, suggesting you should suck so you can bring someone else in to "save" your football team is harsh, unfair and stupid.
A lot of quarterbacks have come into the league and started right away lately. Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford stick out in particular. While Stafford has been dealing with injuries, the rest have had some relative success, including leading their teams to playoff runs (Except Bradford, who was only one game out of the playoff hunt).
But what did all these guys have in common? For one, they went to football teams that had solid running games. They all went to teams that had solid or improving defenses, and they had just enough pieces around them to have some early success.
The Redskins are still a season or two off from having those things. They still have to find the right combo of offensive linemen. They added some running backs, but they have to hope those guys develop into the every down guys they're looking for. They added some wide receivers and are hoping they develop too. The defense needs to come along too.
Luck, or any other quarterback coming out in 2011 NFL Draft, will not save the Redskins, anymore than any other quarterback who's come to this bad team will. Rookie quarterbacks who end up going to bad teams with bad offensive lines usually end up getting ruined by the bad teams.
"So? Let Rex or Beck get pummeled while we train the rookie up!" some will say. To that I say, "What kind of masochist are you?" So you want to see someone on our team get beaten up and battered on a weekly basis? They're wearing the logo of your favorite team on the side of their helmet. You root for teams to win, not to lose.
Is there so little faith that the team could actually improve this season that we, collectively, as a fanbase, are advocating a guy like John Beck getting creamed, so we can draft someone who has even less experience than him?
Maybe Beck isn't the answer. Maybe he's just a stopgap guy so we can get the next guy, and maybe that next guy is Luck. If that's the case, shouldn't the Redskins still do everything possible to make sure he succeeds?
Do you think Shanahan is simply going to go into the next season, with all Snyder's money, with holes all over his team, and not do anything to improve the team? To ignore the offensive line, to ignore finding a cornerback. That he's not going to do everything in his power to win?
And do we honestly think that he'll put someone on the field that doesn't give him the absolute best chance to win? That, if Beck struggles, he won't get benched for Rex, or whatever other quarterback we give in? Shanahan has made a career of benching guys. He benched the quarterback that he rode to an AFC Championship game the year after. He benched a fringe Hall of Famer like McNabb, you think he's going to be scared to bench Beck?
Shanahan wants to win. He's one of the winningest coaches in the NFL for a reason. He has a drive and determination to be the best, and he's not going to settle for not being the best. He and Bruce Allen will do whatever they can in their power to assure that the Redskins move forward, not backward next season, and if Beck can't be the guy to move them forward, he will continue to be a back-up. And I say that as someone who is rooting for the guy.
No more of this "Let's let so-and-so die behind our bad offensive line and grab the best available talent" bull that has been pervasive in the DMV lately.
Rebuilding is not the same as tanking. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, for all their strides, are still in the midst of their rebuilding process. You can rebuild and win games, and maybe you have to mortgage some of your future to move up and get someone you like, but you do not have to resign yourselves to failure.
And you certainly shouldn't be rooting for your favorite team to lose. It's demoralizing to players and other fans. There's a difference between accepting that your team may lose, and praying that your team does lose, so you can draft some other jabroni who may-or-may-not be the answer to all your prayers.
Things may not be easy in Washington over the next couple seasons, but it won't be for lack of trying. The players are going to play their butts off, the coaches will be looking to improve. The Redskins have the 27th toughest schedule in the league, against football teams that have far worse quarterback issues than we have, believe it or not.
Let's drop this "Suck for Luck" nonsense. For one, it's not likely to happen; whoever has the number one pick, it seems likely that they'll need a quarterback more than us needing a quarterback. With our schedule, for all intents and purposes, six or seven wins isn't out of the question, which would put the Redskins back at their number 10 spot or lower.
Secondly, it's counterproductive. Even when a team is rebuilding, it's primary goal should be winning. Winning fosters hope amongst the players and the fanbase. The Lions were also 6-10, but winning their last four games and upsetting a division rival or two has them rolling with some serious momentum going into the next season.
And third, Luck is no sure thing. He's as a good a prospect as there can be, but there are a lot of good senior quarterbacks coming out next year that could potentially move up in terms of draft stock. He's going to be dealing with a new head coach, and he lost a few of his favorite targets, a couple offensive linemen and some key parts on defense. It's going to fall a lot on him to keep his momentum going, and as we saw with Jake Locker, all the potential in the world doesn't mean a whole lot for your draft stock. Not to mention Shanahan is notoriously finicky about his quarterbacks.
Skepticism about John Beck is to be expected. Heck, skepticism about any quarterback the Redskins sign or bring is to be expected. But wanting to lose? Wanting the guy, who, unlike the guy who is supposed to the franchise quarterback, is organizing team workouts and is putting in the time and energy to be a leader, to fail and get beat up?
That's about as close to being cruel and despicable as it can get.