John Beck and the Washington Redskins: Is There Any Hope?
The Washington Redskins have lost two games in a row, dropping them out of contention for first place in the Division and leaving them with a 3-3 record.
On Sunday, they lost both Santana Moss and Tim Hightower to injuries for an undisclosed amount of time. These are arguably the most important players on their offense.
They have the most unimportant quarterback controversy in the history of the NFL, since the entire world thinks both quarterbacks are nothing more than backup quality anyway.
They are 1-2 in the division.
They have begun the infamous "Redskin O-Line shuffle" of years past.
A rookie QB just scored 33 points against the defense.
Is it time to throw up our hands, shake our heads, and try to find a way to blame this season on Daniel Snyder again?
Not just yet my fellow long-suffering fans. Here are a few facts to hang onto while we try to convince ourselves that the season hasn't gotten away from the Burgundy and Gold.
1. No More Kicker Woes
Sav Rocca has shown himself to be one of the best punters in the league this year, and Graham Gano has turned the corner.
Rocca seems to be able to punt the ball into neighboring ZIP codes at will, and he isn't afraid to be a football player as well as punter. You know what I mean; that Aussie can hit!
Meanwhile, last year's goat Graham Gano has been nailing his kicks from as far out as 50 yards and has been pretty darn accurate as well. He has a few misses this year, but one was a bobbled snap, and one was blocked. Neither of those two were his fault.
Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, as Gano lined up for a 49-yard attempt, I actually felt confident he was going to make it. That is the first time in over five years I can say that about a Redskin placekicker.
2. John Beck Will Win Some Games for Us
Sure, he lost to the Panthers, but he put up good numbers and he showed clearly (to me anyway) that he is head and shoulders above Rex Grossman in terms of mobility and game management.
He isn't perfect. He fumbled the ball and threw the game-ending interception to, apparently, nobody. Rookie WR Leonard Hankerson is partially to blame for that interception though, and over all I have a tremendous amount of confidence in Beck's ability to protect the ball compared with Rex Grossman's.
The biggest thing John Beck brought to the game Sunday was excitement and hope. He ran for a touchdown, he scrambled out of pressure avoiding sacks, and he lit up the secondary down-field when the team had to throw and abandon the run. Not bad for his first start in four years.
Unlike Grossman, Beck hit several receivers in stride in that all important 10- to 20-yard zone. His releases were crisp, and his balls had zip.
It is true that he had three questionable passes that could have easily been interceptions, but he also had three or four passes dropped by his receivers. Beck would have easily passed for over 300 yards if those passes had been caught. Both of these situations were caused by a lack of familiarity between Beck and the receiving corps. That will improve over the next week or two.
Perhaps the Redskins might finally start scoring 24-35 points a game.
3. One Game Does Not a Bad Defense Make
The defense performed poorly against the Panthers, but Carolina is the only team so far to score over 21 points against the Washington defense. I believe that much of the blame can be laid at the feet of Jim Haslett for failing to keep up with the adjustments made by Carolina.
The Redskins have a very good defense. They are far better than their record indicates. However, there are some disturbing weaknesses in the secondary, and the front four seem at times to be either Supermen or Clark Kents, with nothing in between.
How many times this year have we seen the Supermen push the opposition to a third down and over 20 yards, only to see the Clark Kents show up and let them pass for 30 yards and a first down?
I honestly believe this defense will hold the opposition to fewer than 21 points in 10 or 11 games this season. That is a solid performance against any team in the NFL. So far, they've done it to New York, Dallas, Philadelphia, and St. Louis. The Arizona Cardinals scored 21, and the Panthers embarrassed us with 33.
But there is nothing for the defense to be embarrassed about overall. I believe if Beck had been the starter all season, the Redskins would be sitting at 5-1 and 3-0 in the division. But that's just me.
If the Redskins commit to pressuring the QB, turnovers will come and teams will be held to low scores. It's that simple.
4. The Future Schedule
Before the season started, the back half of the Redskins' season looked brutal.
Well, it still does. But if the Redskins don't let this loss to the Panthers break their spirit, I can see them in both their next games against the Bills in Buffalo, then San Francisco at home. Perhaps, we win one and lose one. What then?
If we can be at 4-4 after the next two weeks, we should be able to go on a winning streak as we face the hapless Dolphins, revenge against Dallas at home, a winnable road game to Seattle, and a home game against the Jets.
That would put the Redskins at 8-4 before facing the Patriots, New York, Minnesota, and the Eagles. We need only one of those games to have a winning season and prove every critic wrong about Washington.
In fact, three of those games are winnable. Minnesota should be a win of course, but when it comes to Division games, we all know anything goes. With Beck as our quarterback, I believe both games can go in the "W" column.
So hang in there Skins fans, the season has a long way to go and we might just pull a few rabbits out of our hats.