Thursday, November 1, 2007

Time To Start John Beck

John Beck

Is it me or is Cam Cameron reaching for excuses not to play John Beck? The Dolphins are 0-8 and have now dropped their last 12 regular season games dating back to last year. Cleo Lemon has played okay. But he's coming off his worst start since taking over for the injured Trent Green. The Dolphins have lost their best running back Ronnie Brown for the season to injury. They've traded their best receiver Chris Chambers to San Diego. This season has spun so ridiculously out of control, there is a realistic chance the Dolphins could go 0-16.

It's time to take the training wheels off and give John Beck the keys to the car. The rookie quarterback from BYU has yet to play a down. But at this point, can the Dolphins play any worse than now? Beck was the team's 2nd round pick. The Dolphins bypassed Notre Dame star Brady Quinn who was unepectedly available with the fourth pick of the draft. But instead, the Dolphins chose receiver Ted Ginn with the hope of drafting Beck in the second. Beck was available and the Dolphins immediately grabbed him in the second round.

So why hasn't Cameron given Beck a chance to start? Back in 1994, Cameron was the quarterback's coach for the Washington Redskins. That year, the Redskins drafted University of Tennessee quarterback Heath Shuler with its first round pick. Eight weeks into the 1994 season, the Redskins threw Shuler into the starting lineup and he was clearly not ready. Shuler struggled terribly and never developed into a quality NFL quarterback. Cameron believes Shuler was rushed too soon, destroying his confidence and essentially his NFL career.

But the example of Heath Shuler is a poor excuse. First of all, Shuler never proved he could play in the NFL. It didn't matter when Shuler was thown into the starting lineup. He was never going to be a good quarterback. Shuler's poor career wasn't because he lost confidence from his rookie year. He just wasn't any good. Don't believe me? There have been plenty of great quarterbacks who struggled miserably as rookies and went on to great careers. John Elway had a terrible rookie year in 1983. Troy Aikman went 1-15 with the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie in 1989. Peyton Manning led the NFL with 28 interceptions his rookie year and the Colts were a pathetic 3-13. But going through those growing pains made them into the great quarterbacks they would eventually become. Do you think Aikman, Elway and Manning lost confidence after rough rookies seasons? Of course not. A good quarterback should have enough confidence to know he can play in the league. Otherwise, he shouldn't be playing.

Listen, I'm not saying John Beck is going to be the next Elway, Aikman or Peyton Manning. But you need to crawl before you can walk. The best way for Beck to develop into a good quarterback is to play. You don't learn anything sitting on the bench. You can't simulate the speed of the game in practice. The only way you learn to play quarterback is getting out there on the field and face a real NFL defense.

Beck is 26 years old and the Dolphins don't have the luxury of having him wait for a year or two on the sidelines before throwing him into the fire. I don't expect Beck to light it up and start looking like the second coming of Dan Marino. He's probably going to struggle and perhaps very badly. But that's okay. This team is not going anywhere anytime soon. The Dolphins need to find out what Beck can do.

Cameron obviously feels Lemon gives the Dolphins the best chance to win because of experience. But he's not the future. The Dolphins have a lot invested in Beck. It's time to put that investment into good use.

No comments: