That's the only way to describe John Beck's performance in his first start as an NFL QB since 2007 - when he was a rookie with a then very bad Miami Dolphins team that finished 1-15.
Completing 14/17 passes for 140 yards and running twice for 17 total yards, Beck led the Redskins to scores on their first four possessions.
Yes, only one of those scores was a TD, and yes Beck gave up a couple of sacks in the red zone which helped stall the Redskins, but John Beck's efficient management of the offense, accuracy, and mobility contributed to long drives and a lobsided time of possesion of 23:07 in the first half that led to 16 1st-half points in a game that finished 16-3.
A week after a good performance from Rex Grossman against the Steelers, the pressure and hype surrounding John Beck's shining moment and debut had reached a surprising level considering it was just preseason - but in reality, there was a lot riding on this performance.
Ever since John Beck was the first signed of the Redskins quarterbacks last year (before McNabb and Grossman), the Shanahans have touted Beck as a capable player and starter. Head Coach Mike Shanahan stated his reputation on it. Kyle Shanahan reportedly stood on a table vouching for Beck years ago during pre-NFL draft meetings in Texas. And John Beck, himself, spoke with a air of confidence all summer long that almost seemed unjustified considering his 4-year sabbatical from real play on the field.
Not only did John Beck play well for himself, as he ratches up a couple notches the competition with Grossman for starting QB, but he made his coaches look good. All the positive comments regarding Beck by Mike and Kyle Shanahan seem to be justified. In time, those comments may seem genius.
In John Beck's personal narrative, Indianapolis - the site of this year's Super Bowl - may be where the Return of Beck begins.
That said, Grossman has his own redemption story he wants to write so the next chapter should be equally interesting as the Redskins head to Baltimore next week for their 3rd preseason bout with the Ravens.
This game will probably be the final round of the Grossman vs. Beck QB competition to see who starts the regular season opener versus the Giants on September 11th.
Right now, it seems that Beck may have the edge. The competition may already be over.
Cutting to the chase, John Beck looked very good. How good? His performance was betterthan Grossman's against Pittsburgh. Not by much, but on pure football ability, Beck's mobility and athleticism give him an advantage over Grossman, especially in the Shanahan system which requires quarterback mobility. Does it mean he's the starter against the Giants on opening day? Not sure but we'll learn a lot over the next six days. I think the starter in Baltimore on Thursday night is the starter on opening day. It probably comes down to the following question. Is Grossman's experience more important than Beck's mobility to the Shanahans? After tonight, my gut tells me Beck. If it isn't Beck, then the whole notion of him being preordained as the starter gets shot to hell.
With all that said and all that will be said below, don't forget that tonight was just a preseason game and the Colts were awful. And by the way, they played without #18.
The good, bad, and more right here.
1. The Offense---Like last week, the offense was in sync from the start. Beck was sharp leading an offense to scores on its first four drives. Don't get too hung up on lack of touchdowns in the red zone. Red-zone game planning is seldom a primary focus for preseason games. Let's wait until the regular season before getting red-zone anxious. Bottom line, 415 total yards of offense with 287 of them coming on the first 4 drives of the game is awfully fun to watch even if it is just a preseason game.
2. Running Backs---Hightower and Helu were very good tonight and made runs that Portis in recent years wasn't capable of making. Any thought of Helu not making the final roster should be forgotten. They appear to be deep at running back when you add Torrain and Royster to Helu and Hightower. Additionally, fullback Darrell Young has impressed in the first two games. Tonight, another catch and nifty yards after the grab.
3. Jamall Brown---He's a difference-maker on the o-line now that he's completely healthy. His re-signing was huge!
4. Terrence Austin---He produces when he gets chances.....tonight as punt returner. He looks like the returner if Banks is injured.
5. Defensive Front 7---So much better talent-wise than in recent years. Unlike last week, they did a great job of stopping the run holding the Colts to 1 total rushing yard in the first half. Some tough decisions coming in a few weeks especially at linebacker. Special teams contributors will have a big advantage.
6. Graham Gano---3 for 3 on field goals and a major weapon with the new 35-yd kickoff rule. No chance he isn't the kicker on opening day.
1. Grossman's INT---A bad pick for Rex in the 4th qtr but typical of the decisions he's made throughout his career.
2. Sacks Allowed By O-Line---the Colts got pressure along with 4 sacks. Far from a perfect night for Trent Williams who missed a few blocks including a major whiff on a first half sack of Beck.
3. Hankerson Drop---He redeemed himself with 3 catches but another drop killed a potential scoring drive. His size is impressive but you have to catch the ball consistently in the NFL.
1. I'll keep telling myself that preseason is meaningless but isn't it obvious that Grossman and Beck understand the offense so much better than McNabb ever did?
2. Perry Riley is a high-energy competitor. Love the way he flies around and hits on defense and teams.
3. If the third preseason game is the true dress-rehearsal game then the starting quarterback Thursday night in Baltimore should be the starting QB on opening day.
4. I sense that their dominant performances in the first two preseason games is building unexpected excitement about the upcoming season. If they dominate the Ravens, the opener against New York will be hyped much more than we thought a few weeks ago.
It's just a preseason game tonight in Indy but for John Beck, it's a put up or shut up moment. I doubt his perfomance tonight, good or bad, will stop him from talking but at least his audience will have an action image to place next to the words.
Are there ramifications to his peformance tonight? According to many including my partner Thom Loverro, probably not. Thom and others believe he's the Shanahan's "all-in" quarterback play. As in, their entire stack of QB chips pushed center-table on a hand featuring a pair of Becks. Is that pair of Becks equal to a pair of Aces? We'll know a little more tonight.
If he plays poorly and starts the all-important third preseason game next week in Baltimore, then we've got the first concrete proof that Beck has been the guy all along. If he plays poorly and Rex starts next week, it probably says less about the "all-in" on Beck theory and more about playing the guy who's ready.
If he plays well tonight and starts next week, he's likely been the guy and is the guy. If he plays well tonight and doesn't start next week, then the "all-in" on Beck theory takes a big hit.
As a fan, I'm hoping that Beck plays well. His mobility, athleticism, and arm-strength are supposedly much better than Grossman's. We know Rex's limitations. Right now, we don't that Beck has any unless you believe that Bill Parcells and Ozzie Newsome are pretty good judges of talent.
3 Non-QB Things to Watch for Tonight:
1. Pass Protection-- The first-team offensive line showed better athleticism and cohesion last week than we saw a year ago. It's only the preseason but they'll get tested again tonight. Another solid showing would start building confidence that 2011 could produce an improved o-line situation.
2. Roy Helu-- Helu will get his chance tonight to show he's worth keeping. He's much more explosive than their other backs. I've heard some say he's not a home run threat....not true. He was a take-it-to-the-house possibility every time he touched at Nebraska.
3. Ryan Kerrigan-- He was far from comfortable last week against Pittsburgh but he showed great strength and a big-time motor. He strikes me as a guy who will get better with each game. Tonight is the next game.
After a summer of positive talk, leadership during unofficial practices, a groin pull, and one preseason game, John Beck will finally take the helm as starting QB to prove to the coaching staff, fellow teammates, and fans alike - that he, and not Rex Grossman, should be the #1 guy to start for the Redskins come regular season.
Most pro-Beck/anti-Grossman fans will contend that you know what you have with Grossman. Up until now, one of the greatest arguments for Beck has been the mystery factor. His upside is unknown; his peak abilities are a secret.
Rex Grossman, however, would certainly argue with the premise of this argument: that he can't improve. Grossman proved his critics wrong in the preseason opener, but he'll clearly need to do much more to earn the respect he wants.
And that's why there's certainly a bit of intrigue surrounding this preseason game - because the secret of Beck will finally begin to unveil itself and the Grossman vs. Beck competition will finally be in full swing.
If Beck out-performs Grossman Friday night, the needle will tilt in Beck's favor obviously.
If Beck and Grossman play equally well (or worse), then a tie may still go in Beck's favor.
If, however, Beck crumbles under the bright lights and Grossman gives another solid performance, then perhaps the Shanahans' master plan may be in a bit of a quandary.
Either way, preseason is very relevant for the Redskins, Grossman, and Beck - and could signal either the beginning of redemption (for Grossman), the beginning of an era (with Beck), or time to kill until next season with both of them.
Redskins training camp 2011 has been referred to as "Camp Calm," by some.
As opposed to the normal circus that comes to Ashburn this time of the year, it seems like football and trying to improve a once very successful franchise is the top story line.
Fine by me, until "Sexy Rexy" Rex Grossman made the Redskins a target for national laughter by proclaiming to Comcast SportsNet that the Redskins were much better then anybody with red blood flowing through their veins, thinks they are.
"We’re just waiting in the wings ready to take over the NFC East. Nobody’s talking about us, it’s right where we wanna be. You look at us from top to bottom out here, there’s a bunch of great players. And we don’t need people saying we’re the best right now. But when it’s all said and done, I really feel like this team’s gonna win the [NFC] East.”
I have no problem with Rex being confident. I know he is. He told me last week off-air here at Redskins Park - that he thought this team was going to be really special and that the offense was better then the Chicago Bears unit he helped lead to a Super Bowl loss.
However, and I stress -- this is me nit-picking; I just wish that Rex would have played the ZipIt.com game -- and not said anything at all. Let the world think you are only going to win three games, and the Eagles are going to run wild over the division.
Don't give them anything to chew on, rip on or ridicule. It's one thing to say that in the locker room or to your family, or to your friends -- but the media is only going to exploit it. It's what the media lives for.
The only thing worse -- would have been if John Beck said it. He's already been picked on, shredded and critiqued to no end for his confident stance. Could you imagine the jokes Jay Leno and Dave Letterman would have made at that point?
OK, maybe that wouldn't have happened -- but hopefully you get the point.
So this is a mild concern, heading in to the pre season opener against Pittsburgh on Friday night (3:30/7:30; ESPN 980 AM, 94.3 & 92.7 FM, SIRIUS XM, Redskins Radio Network).
Here are some other concerns through a weird & wild training camp:
**The Redskins receivers have had entirely too many drops. Leonard Hankerson has been chief among them, routinely dropping a pass almost every practice. Tuesday, he had two drops in team drills.
It's going to happen. I understand that, however Kyle Shanahan told me on Wednesday "We dropped way too many balls today. That's the receivers job. They have to catch the ball."
**Kyle and Mike Shanahan were clearly not happy with some of the general sloppy ness that the Redskins showed in their final full practice of the week. The younger Shanahan, thought it was because the coaches decided to take off the full shoulder pads and limit any kind of physicality. Kyle Shanahan was as miffed as I've seen him, saying "they change their mind sets" and that the staff would be more then happy to put them back on -- if the mistakes continue.
Newly signed RG, Chris Chester had a false start in team drills, as did Niles Paul among other mistakes.
**Tim Hightower has flashed great bursts of speed and a nice ability to turn the corner, when he holds on to the football and doesn't fall down for seemingly no reason. I honestly do not keep statistics like some of the other beat guys do - but it's hard not to see the upside that Hightower brings -- if he can avoid turnovers and mysterious dirt dives.
**The health of John Beck has to be a concern. This week, he hasn't been able to do what makes John Beck special in the coaches eyes. Clearly, it's not a serious injury -- because Beck has participated to varying degrees in every practice this week since tweaking his groin last Saturday.
However, you just never know when the injury will crop up again, and with the amount of mobility required in the offensive scheme, it is more likely to happen then not. Beck SHOULD NOT play Friday night against Pittsburgh and while Mike and Kyle Shanahan refuse to say it -- I would be willing to bet the ranch on Beck being down in the pre-season opener.
**The health of TE- Chris Cooley, KR-Brandon Banks and SS LaRon Landry is worrisome, to say the least, but all three should be ready to go for the season opener in a month against the Giants. I am more concerned long term about Landry, as should you. The early bye week for the Redskins (after Week # 4) might help the team stay fresher in late October and early November -- but by Thanksgiving -- Landry could be dealing with some problems (from the lack of rest) going in to the toughest part of the schedule.
***Tackling will be an issue in the pre-season and all year. The best you can hope for -- is that the Redskins defense is better at it because they are younger and more athletic then in years past. LB Coach Lou Spanos is not that concerned, based on a short conversation I had with him on Wednesday night -- saying the team has been working a lot on the fundamentals of wrapping up.
The 53-man roster guessing game before a team has their first padded practice is really worthless. Many of us (me included) do it for fun but the chances of predicting all or even most of the 53 correctly in early August are close to impossible. Even the good teams with the expectation of minimal roster turnover end up with 3-4 surprise cuts. Teams like the Redskins usually end up with 5 or more.
Here is a ridiculously early long-shot guess on 5 players that most assume are final roster locks that when all is said and done could get cut.
1. Anthony Armstrong--Armstrong came out of nowhere to make the team last year and he produced during the regular season. However, last year's competition for roster spots wasn't much to write home about, see Joey Galloway and Roydell Williams. This year's training camp list of competitors appears to be much better. Shanahan drafted three receivers and brought in another two via free agency and trade. Armstrong's special teams play will work in his favor. With that said, I think he's going to have to earn his roster spot over the next month.
2. Keiland Williams--Williams was a key contributor last year, particularly on third down. With that said, there was nothing special about his performance and I could see the team finding something better. He might get a look at fullback before camp is done but if he's a RB, he'll have to battle for the 4th spot (if they keep 4) behind Torrain, Helu, and Hightower.
3. John Beck--Yes, I said it! We know nothing about him and I'm convinced that Shanahan and Son don't view him as their #1. What if he soils himself in preseason and it becomes apparent that Grossman and Clemons are much better? What if another veteran becomes available late in preseason that makes more sense than a struggling and hopeless Beck? I wouldn't bet on it but at the same time, the narrative on Beck could be totally different in 2-3 weeks.
4. Nick Sundberg--Was Sundberg really that good last year? I could see a scenario where a solid veteran long-snapper gets released from another team and the Skins pick him up shortly before the regular season.
5. Mike Sellers--I'm a big fan of Sellers and I'd like to see him on the final roster. However, he's old and they're going young.
The five mentioned would be stunners. Others that would surprise but not shock would include Gano, Banks, Moore, McIntosh, Hicks, Buchanon.
The Washington Redskins are finally back in familiar territory. The rules are very different, the faces are familiar in some cases -- yet foreign in others.
Finally, however -- football is back. Training Camp 2011 officially began on Thursday, with just over 60 players under contract (including all 12 rookie draft picks) taking the field for the first time on Friday morning in the searing heat.
Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen made it a peaceful start to the new season -- by trading Donovan McNabb to the Vikings for a 6th round pick in 2012 and a conditional pick in 2013 to eliminate one huge distraction.
The Redskins gave their fans, players and most importantly the media (just kidding) a huge early Christmas present by trading the worst free agent acquisition of all time, not just in Redskins history -- but in professional sports history -- getting rid of Albert Haynesworth.
Washington essentially took back a bag of dirty, water logged footballs and 25 sweaty, stretched out jock straps to get rid of the cancer that had invaded Redskins Park for the last two years - but anything is better then absolutely nothing.
After disposing of two mammoth sized distractions -- it almost feels like the Redskins are once again -- a football organization that is just trying to get better, instead of one that consistently has made god awful decisions every chance they had.
That being said - they have a long way to go. Training camp so far is very limited, not only by the amount of players, but by the amount of contact. Mike Shanahan said on Saturday morning that he won't have the Redskins in full shoulder pads for most of the week, if not the entire week ahead. He's putting a high emphasis on his normal coach-speak of getting his players in "football shape" which is all fine and good -- but the first pre season game is quickly approaching.
Washington hosts Pittsburgh in less then two weeks, and oh by the way -- that will be a game with live tackling (in case you did not remember) and I think your body has to be used to that pounding.
Nevertheless -- here's what has jumped out (good and not so-good) about the first two days of camp.
**John Beck really struggled with the deep-ball accuracy in Saturday's practice. Beck did everything flawlessly, to the non-scouting eye, on play-action, his boot rolls, the footwork -- until it came time to release the ball on a deep pattern. The ball seemed to consistently wobble from the point of release and he was largely inaccurate.
Beck missed new WR Jabar Gaffney deep when hurried by a blitz by Oshiomogho Atogwe. Beck also overthrew Anthony Armstrong a couple of times on deeper routes. Beck also missed an underneath check off, leading RB James Davis too far.
Beck did look share on most of his underneath throws, going (7-8) at one point, per John Keim of the Washington Examiner.
**Some rookies that have flashed at times -- LB Markus White looks like he has good athleticism for a 260 + pound guy. White showed good side-to-side lateral pursuit, picking through traffic on one particular run to his far side on Saturday. White has lined up at LOLB, with the injury to first round pick, Ryan Kerrigan.
Offensive Tackle Willie Smith stoned White in Saturday's practice on one particular rush, drawing praise from offensive line coach, Chris Foerster. Smith, is raw -- having only played left-tackle at East Carolina for two years -- but he has practiced some at guard in the post season all star game season, and so far has looked like the tempo and new environment is not too much.
Roy Helu really stood out in Friday's practice, not as much on Saturday. Helu has been called the ideal back by scouts for Mike Shanahan's one-cut zone run offense. Helu has really good first step explosion, once he plants his foot and turns up-the-field.
***Mike Sellers is clearly battling for his career as a member of the Redskins. He has not been a great lead blocker as a full back for the last two years. He is a good pass weapon out of the backfield, and of course a core special teams veteran.
Kevin Sheehan and I speculated on Thursday morning, before camp even began - that Mike Sellers was in some trouble in terms of a battle for a roster spot.
On Friday - Sellers was used primarily as a tight end. On Saturday - Sellers was used in the same role, as the Redskins used some more motion sets and even flexed Sellers out wide. He did have one ball go off his hands on an attempted one handed grab.
The bottom line is this -- Mike Sellers, at his age and salary -- needs a lot to go right for him. The fact that he is a big part of the Redskins special teams units helps a lot, but the Redskins have one mission besides trying to win.
Get younger and get cheaper.
***One last item -- the defensive line looks so much better. Probably, because we know that the additions of Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen are imminent on the field, but just in general. Jarvis Jenkins has worked at both end spots in practice so far. He can also shade over the nose, when asked to do so. Cofield played over the nose at Northwestern. On Saturday, Cofield said he has familiarity with the Redskins defense, which has principles based on the Steelers 3-4 -- from his time with former Giants Coordinator, Tim Lewis. Lewis has Pittsburgh roots as well.
Bowen says his go-to pass rush move is a "stutter" move to catch offensive lineman off guard, and allow him to get them off their base. Here's the bottom line -- if Jenkins has a good camp/pre-season and maybe this is too optimistic -- the starting defensive line for the season opener against the Giants could be Jenkins, Cofield & Bowen; with Adam Carriker, Anthony Bryant and Vonnie Holliday as the top three reserves.
The relieved words of John Beck never sounded so good to hear. Commissioner Roger Goodell added "Football's back."
Welcome back, sweet pigskin. It's great to finally have you matter again.
It's going to be wonderful to NOT mention terms like "decertification" and "anti trust."
If those words fell off the face of the earth -- nobody would miss them. I know I won't.
The doors officially open for business on Tuesday morning, and while there will be plenty of rumors (Santonio Holmes, Nnamdi Asomugha?) -- only one fact truly exists.
The next few weeks will be pandemonium.
One topic du jour -- will be who will be under center (whoever that is) on September 11?
John Beck is the assumed starter at Quarterback for the Redskins, but it is far from being a done deal.
"They're going to re-sign Rex definetly. They've told me that," Beck told the "Sports Reporters "on ESPN 980 Monday afternoon.
"It makes sense, I know they like him as well," Beck said.
Beck says he was told that (about Grossman) as recently as late April. Grossman is an unrestricted free agent.
As for other slightly more famous gun slinger in town; Beck says he was not told anything about Donovan McNabb.
"I haven't asked what's going to happen." Beck said he was consumed by the learning process, trying to immerse himself in Kyle Shanahan's offense.
Beck hasn't played in a regular season game since his rookie season. He took over a miserable Dolphins team that won 1 game the entire year -- under Cam Cameron. Beck did not fare well, as would be expected.
Beck told Andy Pollin and Steve Czaban "I made mistakes," in Miami -- "We were (0-9), I made some bad plays." which again; to anybody with half a brain is completely understandable.
Beck was drafted by the Dolphins 40th overall, a few spots after Kevin Kolb -- who is the hottest QB commodity in the league. He had a falling out with Bill Parcells -- who took over the Dolphins front office after Cameron was fired.
It was on to Baltimore -- where Beck was instantly behind Joe Flacco & then Marc Bulger was also added. It's kind of hard to win a job over a first round pick, who took his team to the AFC Championship game in his rookie season, and a smart, productive veteran who excelled when healthy.
Yet, Beck has been universally hammered by critics and skeptics alike, for being anointed as the next savior of the Redskins, by head coach Mike Shanahan. In reality, Beck knows that the job is not his - and Shanahan would NEVER just automatically give the soon to be 30-year old gung-ho gunslinger the job.
"Obviously, I believe," Beck said of his chances. "This is the obstacle in front of me."
Beck is extremely smart, confident, unselfish and motivated. In professional sports, it is a hard combination to find. No matter what you read and think; Beck is talented.
Will he succeed? That depends on those around him. Which brings us to the next phase. Who will the Redskins surround the pocket with? Wild prediction time!
My guesses: OT- Ryan Harris; (free agent, Denver), Willie Smith; (undrafted free agent, ECU), Sidney Rice; (free agent, Minnesota).
On defense: DE - Stephen Bowen; (free agent, Dallas), ILB - Kevin Burnett; (free agent, San Diego); CB - Brent Grimes; (free agent, Atlanta).
Special Teams: P - Brad Maynard; (free agent, CHI)
This is nuts to do before free agency but that's why it's called a "wild guess". Here it goes...a crazy wild guess on the Skins Week-One 53-man roster. Free agents signed from other teams will appear in bold.
QB--Rex Grossman, John Beck, Scott Tolzien (Wisc.-undrafted free agent)
RB--Ryan Torrain, Roy Helu Jr., Evan Royster
FB--Mike Sellers, Darrell Young
TE--Chris Cooley, Fred Davis, Logan Paulson
WR--Santana Moss, Anthony Armstrong, Leonard Hankerson, Malcom Kelly, Brandon Banks, Aldrick Robinson
OL--Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Casey Rabach, Marshal Yanda (Balt.), Jamall Brown, Will Montgomery, Artis Hicks, Clint Oldenburg
NT--Aubreyo Franklin (San Fran.), Anthony Bryant, Chris Neild
DE--Adam Carriker, Jarvis Jenkins, Stephen Bowen (Dallas), Jeremy Jarmon, Vonnie Holliday
OLB--Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Lorenzo Alexander, Chris Wilson
ILB--London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Justin Durant (Jacksonville) , , Robert Henson
CB--DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson (Balt.), Kevin Barnes, Byron Westbrook, Brandyn Thompson
Are the Redskins really going to enter 2011 with either Rex Grossman or John Beck as their starting quarterback? They odds are they will but I'm not betting on it. I still believe that behind closed doors the talk goes something like this---"Rex or Beck, are you kidding me?"
There is an option in free agency that makes sense for the Skins. Marc Bulger. For starters, he's healthy again. Secondly, Kyle Shanahan reportedly wanted him instead of McNabb last year. Thirdly, Bulger started for Jim Haslett in St. Louis and Haslett liked him. Lastly, Bulger is a good fit for Washington. He can make every throw and he's accurate. He's smart and coachable. Assuming health, he's more mobile than you would think. He'd have to learn a new system and learn it quickly but bottom line, he's much more talented than Grossman and much more ready than Beck. He's also affordable at 34 years old.
Next week could be a blast. Picture the end of the lockout followed by the beginning of a two-week free agent frenzy. Nearly 500 free agents could be looking for work. The Redskins have needs with plenty of cap room. They'll be busy for sure and Bulger could be a target.