To Put it Simply? Beck is Not Ready


It has been a full 2 days since the Monday morning Cam Cameron announcement that the Miami Dolphins would be led by Cleo Lemon and the uproars from many fans is still reverberating around Miami and just about everywhere else.  But is Beck really ready to lead this team?  Simply put…No!, Beck is not ready.

As many fans rip into the head coach and GM Randy Mueller for not only drafting Beck, not only drafting Ginn instead of Quinn, but now for not playing the rookie, the question is not only why, but would it be different if Quinn was the backup?  The answer to that is a no as well.  Like it or not.

So as you read this put your disgust and disdain aside for the head coach and GM.  Open your mind to a thought that may not have crossed it before.  Like it or not, give this some thought.  I wish I could take credit for it, but I can’t.  This observation comes from Greg Stoda of the Palm Beach Post.  Or at least part of it.

Simply put, John Beck is not ready and neither would Brady Quinn.  According to Stoda, Beck has played scout master for the Miami Dolphins this year.  For the first 4 games of the season he was the emergency QB.  In practice he ran the scout offense, he took no practice snaps with the first team, and no practice snaps with the second…none that would prepare him to start.  As an emergency QB you don’t take those reps.  You study the playbook and prepare, you run the scout team to get acclimated to the system and speed of the game.  You don’t throw passes to the number 1 wr’s.

When Trent Green went down, the bulk of the reps went to Cleo Lemon.  As they should have.  He was the number 2 QB, he had the reps in practice, he was the best chance that the Dolphins had, he was also the only QB on the squad that was prepared.  His short comings are hard to swallow, but the only other option was to throw in a rookie QB who had not run the Phins offense…in practice.

As Lemon progressed and regressed, Beck began taking the snaps of the number 2 QB, the same reps that Lemon was taking before the Green concussion.  He did not take snaps with the first team, but instead learned the system in which the Phins use.  Baby steps?  No, reality steps.

Consider if Brady Quinn had been drafted instead of Beck.  Quinn would have been the emergency QB for the first 4 games of the year, he would have ran the scout team.  He would have moved to the number 2 spot with the TG injury, and he would just now be getting the reps with the first team.

The argument of course is that Beck has had a full week of practice receiving 50 percent of the first team snaps.  A big jump for a guy who a week ago was receiving maybe 10 percent.

The point is that Beck not starting is not because he is a bad QB, it is not because Lemon is better, or that Cameron and Mueller failed.  It is because Beck is not ready.  He is smart, he is mature, he has the fundamentals.  What he doesn’t have is the time with the first team units to effectively go out and perform at a level that will not hinder his development.

That time is closing in quickly.  Even after the announcement that Lemon would continue to start, Beck still was receiving half of the first team snaps.  An indication that Beck is still being prepared for his NFL regular season debut.

Fans may not like the direction this team appears to be going, they may not like the fact that again, Lemon is the starter and basically Lemon is not very good.

This however is not about Lemon, it is not about this year as Stoda points out, it is about the 2008 Miami Dolphins.  Trent Green was the caretaker QB for this year, Lemon was the back-up, and had everything gone right, Beck would not see the field until next year.  That didn’t happen, things changed, and Lemon looks like his name.  Beck will start this year, he is being groomed for it.  He is receiving the practice reps, he is doing everything that is asked, and he is doing it in a mature fashion.

Beck is 26 years old, which means that he is more mature than his 20 year old draft counterparts, but Beck is still a rookie in the NFL and age does not mean that a player is any more ready to play at that level than the next guy.  It means nothing.  If that were the case, I should be an all-pro at the age of 38.

This season the Miami Dolphins are testing the resolve of their fans.  The fans are divided not by a chain link fence, but more like the Great Wall of China.  They support or they do not.  There is no middle ground and everyone has an opinion on why and their fingers point in different directions.

This decision by Cameron to start Lemon only widens that divide.  I for one would love to see what John Beck can do, but not at the cost of his development.  Rookie QB’s start in the NFL, they have varying degrees of success.  Some come out on fire out of the gate, others are questioned and two years later are replaced.  The debate as to why can go on and on.  The answers are not as clear.  What is known, is that this week, the debut of one rookie is at the very least delayed.  Whether it is the wrong decision or the right decision is not relative, what is relative is how John Beck performs next year.  Not this year.  The Miami Dolphins are not going to know if John Beck is the next Steve Young or the next Heath Schuler. They will not know that in 1 game, they will not know that in the remaining 8 games of 2007.  They will know that next year.  Miami is not going to be drafting a 1st round QB or a 2nd round QB in next years draft.  John Beck is the future.  Starting him now, is only placading the fan, it does nothing for a rookie QB who has spent one week splitting reps with the first team for the first time.

According to media reports, Beck is looking good, but he needs more reps, more time as the number 2, and he needs to get his legs underneath him. His time is coming, but not at the expense of his future.

Beck will continue to get the reps in practice now, he will continue to build his repoir with his Wr’s, he will continue to get ready.  He just isn’t ready now…at least not yet.