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Quarterback John Beck then and today

Remember John Beck?

My memory of him? First time I saw him throw, I was very, very impressed with his arm. First time I heard him speak, he was not quite so impressive. He talked the talk about wanting to get better and studying really, really, really hard, but it didn't seem genuine to me. It seemed like he was saying something he believed the media wanted to hear.

First time I saw him scrimmage? Not impressed. Too many check downs. Didn't have an attacking mentality.

First time I saw him in a game as a starter? It was against Philadelphia. The Eagles' attacking, blitzing, disguising defense ate him up. He completed only 9 of 22 passes for 109 yards. I let it go. It was, after all, his first start.

The last game I saw him start for the Dolphins? Convinced me he didn't have it. That was against Buffalo at Orchard Park. Beck looked scared to me. He took eight snaps, fumbled twice, including a blooper-reel moment when his flub was picked up in mid air as he was bobbling it and returned for a TD. He was also sacked three times. He was benched after those eight snaps and didn't play the next two games.

Beck has revived his career (sort of) in that he's now Washington's starting QB. He's come a long way since that meltdown day in the Buffalo winter. But he is still a project. Still unproven. Still seeking to find a niche.

He'll start against the Dolphins on Sunday. Today he spoke with the South Florida media. This is how it went:

On his progress: “It’s hard to say because, obviously, the goals that I had coming into the season that you work so hard for – it’s been kind of hard to accomplish those with the situation that we find ourselves in now. But I’m just continuing to work as hard as I can at that, so it’s hard to say exactly where I’m at, but I just know that I’m still working at it.”

On how far he’s come since his rookie year in terms of recognizing defense and comfort in the pocket: “As a rookie, you’re wide-eyed, especially when you’re going through the tough situation that we were in back in 2007 where we hadn’t won a game and you become a starter. There are a lot of things that a young quarterback has to deal with — just the transition to the NFL and that situation can be a tricky one. Since then, obviously, I’ve been able to spend a lot of time in film rooms, on practice fields, being around coaches [and] gaining experience in preseason games. All of those aspects I feel like I’ve definitely improved, just getting what experience I can. There’s not the wide-eyed look any more.”

On how tough it has been being on teams that have to overcome injuries: “It is a tricky situation, but it’s adversity and you do your best to fight against adversity to overcome it. We don’t have the guys that we started the season with. That’s football – it happens to a lot of teams every single
year and you want to continue to work and continue to get better and improve as a team and continue to believe. Despite whatever adversity you’re facing, you have to still believe and go out there and play on Sunday and give it your best.”

On comparing playing for a winless team in Miami to not having a win as a starter in Washington: “It’s hard to say because that was my first year in the NFL and you don’t really know what to expect as a rookie in the NFL — what your situation is like, what the team is like. You don’t know what it’s like around the rest of the league. You just know that situation. I don’t know what it would have been like. It probably wouldn’t have been as tricky, just that situation that we found ourselves in [with] all of those injuries. You always want to have a plan when the season starts. Coach [Cam] Cameron sat me down and told me the plan and it felt like that was going to be a good one. As the season shook down, it was anything but that plan with Trent [Green] going down and all of those things. The more I’ve been in this league, the more I’ve learned that that happens. That kind of stuff happens all over the league to a lot of teams and it’s just about dealing with it. It’s about just trying to overcome it and continue to work.”

On playing for Head Coach Mike Shanahan and Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan: “It’s been really good. I really like Coach [Mike] Shanahan. When he traded for me and brought me in here, we
got to sit down and talk and I’d be very happy to be here. I’m grateful for the opportunity that I’ve had to play this season. I’ve just tried to get better each week and do the best that I can with the situation. With Kyle, he’s ayoung coach that is very good at his craft and I’ve been able to learn a lot from him. I just continue to learn and grow a lot from the things that he’s teaching me so that I can become a better quarterback.”

On having to wait for his opportunity to start after his time with Miami: “You never know if you’re going to get another opportunity or when it can happen or if it’s going to happen. I just continue to try to work hard throughout the years and put myself in a position that, if an opportunity was there, I would go out and do well. There was an opportunity in the Philadelphia game to go out and play. Things went pretty good in that game and I try to continue to get better each week. It has been a struggle because things haven’t gone well the past couple of weeks, but, regardless, I am having an opportunity to play and try to go out and do my best each week and improve my game during the week of practice so that I can go out there and play a better game the next week.”

On not getting the chance to start for the Dolphins in the 2008 season: “Well, I got to learn a lot from Chad Pennington. When he came in, he was brought in to be the guy and he did a fantastic job that season. When I looked at that situation, I said that I’m obviously not one of the guys that was chosen by this group. They brought in Chad Pennington. They brought in Chad Henne. Those are the guys, but what can I do to make myself a better quarterback for a situation that could come up in years following? I spent a lot of time with Chad Pennington late at the facility talking to him, just kind of trying to pick his brain and work on my mental aspect of the game — preparation during the week leading up to the game, all of those things. I look at that year as learning a lot from Chad Pennington, watching him take a team that only won one game the year before and helping him lead them to a championship of the AFC East. I was able to learn a lot from that.”

On his relationship with quarterback Rex Grossman: “We’re both two people that have been playing quarterback our entire lives, battling for the same position. We’re professionals so we know how to interact with each other. We know how to work together, but we are, at the same time, both trying to be the quarterback for this football team. With that comes competition between each other and that’s just part of it. When you’ve been competing your entire life and you reach this level, you know how to handle it. It’s not like two little kids. You’re adults. You’re professionals. You handle it correctly.”

On what it would mean to get the first win of his career against Miami: “It would be good. I’ve been wanting to get a win in any stadium. These past few weeks, every week I’ve gone into the game, I’ve wanted it to be that game, that stadium, that situation. For me, really there is no difference in
this game than any other game I’ve gone into. I’m just trying to do my best to help my team win.”