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Great Beckpectations

The John Beck era has officially begun.

“I have a lot of confidence in John Beck because he does have that mobility and he has a strong arm. I’m not going to put him in the Hall of Fame yet, but I really do believe that he has a lot of talent” said Mike Shanahan, minutes after breaking the news of the change at quarterback to Beck and to a faltering Rex Grossman.

Redskins fans are equal parts skepticism and hopeful optimism that Beck can be 'the guy’ under center. Will Beck prove to be that rarest of NFL surprises, a franchise QB plucked from the coal pile and polished to diamond-like brilliance? Or will he be yet another burgundy and gold placeholder while the Redskins continue their search for the Holy Grail at quarterback? Predictions abound, but the truth is, no one – including Mike and Kyle Shanahan – really knows.

On one point there is universal fan consensus. Rex Grossman had his shot, and utterly and inarguably blew it. The Redskins are 3-2. Despite the spontaneous nosebleeds many fans experience at the first sign of on-the-field trouble, it’s been a surprisingly good start for a team that was just plain awful in 2010. We’ve got a damn good defense, and although the offense has looked ugly at times, they’ve also done enough to win more often than not. Although we’re loathe to admit it, Grossman has played very well for stretches of the 2011 season.

But you just can’t do what he’s been doing and expect to continue to lead an NFL team. The careless and momentum-crushing pick Grossman threw immediately after Deangelo Hall’s red-zone interception of Vince Young was the final straw. Epic fail. Game and career over. Grossman’s apparently unquenchable thirst for self-destruction apparently cannot be coached out of him. Like Roy McElroy in 'Tin Cup’, Rex is just 'chock full of inner demons’. And that’s a shame, because if Grossman could ever get his head straight, he really could be one hell of an NFL quarterback.

Onward and upward. Barring catastrophic injury, I’ll be surprised if we see Rex Grossman make another pass in a Redskins uniform. Beck’s time has arrived.

What should we expect from Beck?

In his 4th year, Beck might as well be a rookie. With just 4 career starts under his belt (all for an awful Miami team in his first season), Beck has no real resume to judge. Like most Redskins quarterbacks, he shone in the pre-season. In relief of a beleaguered Grossman last Sunday, Beck looked poised, confident, and lead the Redskins on their only scoring drive of the day, taking it in himself at the end of an 80 yard must-have drive on a quarterback sneak. Had the Redskins defense not run out of gas in the waning minutes, Beck may have played hero on the day. Alas, he never got that chance.

But he’ll have all the chances in the world over the next 11 weeks.

And Redskins fans will be all in for Beck. Smart, humble, and due for an opportunity, Beck is easy to root for. While it’s easy being a fan favorite when you haven’t had the chance to throw interceptions, fumble the ball, or lose games, Beck appears to be the man for this job. He’s smarter than Grossman, more conservative than Grossman, and younger and more elusive than Grossman. Although the Shanahan’s never miss an opportunity to praise Beck’s arm, whether he can make all of the requisite NFL throws is still an open question for this fan.

Despite how the rest of 2011 goes, whether the Redskins offense continues to sputter and self-implode, or eliminate mistakes and turnovers, re-commit to a bruising ground game, and produce competent QB play, giving Beck an extended opportunity the rest of the way is the right call.

It’s hard to sustain fantasies of a bright future and, ultimately, glory when you’re a Redskins fan. But I’ll allow myself just one little glimmer of a wishful daydream as we open the John Beck chapter of the History of the Washington Redskins. How wonderful might it be if we were to find our quarterback for the rest of the Shanahan era already on our roster? And what kind of talented supporting cast might we be able to build if we don’t have to sell the farm to find a franchise QB in the next 3 drafts?

Those thoughts are positively dreamy.
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