August 25, 2011

Redskins vs Ravens Spotlight: Beck and the Big Men

Time to get out front on the whole Beck vs Grossman thing. Seems only fair to do it before tonight's meeting with the Baltimore Ravens.

I will not denigrate Rex Grossman. He has more than earned respect in this town—or should have—for both his on- and off- field performance as a Redskin. But the truth is, if I’m coaching against the Redskins offense this season, my preference is to defend Rex Grossman over John Beck.

Why? Because I know where Rex is going to be. Because I feel confident that if I can take away his first option more often than not, and force him to move, re-load, improvise, I stand a pretty good chance of forcing errors. Of creating that one key errant pass, logging that one key sack, and, given his proven penchant for losing control of the ball when hit, creating that game-altering turnover.

Yes, Rex Grossman is going to challenge me down the field. Particularly if his first option comes open. But over the course of a game, I like my chances of keeping him generally under control, and more importantly,  generating that crucial turnover if I can take away his first option and apply consistent pressure.

Beck, meanwhile, is the kind of opposing quarterback that drives me to distraction.

You can have the perfect defense called. You can break a pass rusher clean. You can have the man dead to rights and in the cross-hairs for a crunching sack ... only to see him whip a siderarm dart out of traffic with that quick-trigger release. Or sidestep a pass rusher, drift into open space and go downfield quickly and accurately.

A guy like Beck will throw off his back foot, drifting sideways, at full gallop—from any platform—and find a receiver operating outside the confines of the initial play call and improvising on the run as well.

It's a morale-killer.

If the John Beck we saw against the Indianapolis Colts last week is any indication, he is the kind of quarterback that will turn opposing defensive coordinators (and fans) hair gray, set their teeth to grinding and have their backsides puckering, every time a play breaks down and he starts moving.

It's been 25 years since the Redskins had a guy like that.
History has a way of forgetting this kind of thing, but Joe Theismann wasn't just able to confound and irritate opponents with his mouth. His ability to move in the pocket, pick up crucial first downs with his legs, and throw accurately on the run, were weapons that contributed in no small part to the Redskins rebirth under Joe Gibbs in the early 1980's.

I kind of relish the thought of having "that guy" on my side again.

And no, for those of you already reaching for your keyboards, I am not suggesting John Beck is the new Joe Theismann. What I am suggesting is this:

I would rather have to defend Rex Grossman at his best than what we may have seen in the first real glimpse we have gotten of John Beck. If that glimpse turns out to be foreshadowing, and not mirage, I will bet my lunch money for the whole year that opposing teams and their fans will soon come to feel the same way.

Be that guy, John. We've been waiting a long time.

Redskins vs Ravens

My quick and easy wish list for tonight's tilt with the Ravens:

1) Don't lose anyone to injury.

2) Forget the score. Forget the stats. What I care about this week is seeing these younger, faster 2011 Redskins hold up physically against Baltimore on the line of scrimmage.

For more years than I care to remember the Redksins have lost to the Steelers, Ravens and Giants of the NFL because they were simply overpowered at the line of scrimmage. The Redskins on-field issues haven’t centered around their skill players (though the lack of consistent NFL-caliber quarterbacking certinaly hasn't helped).

Their most glaring weakness has been with their big boys up front being pushed around.

Offensive linemen have been pushed back in to the passer and unable to open consistent running lanes for the ground game. Defensive linemen have been unable to get off blocks and control the running game, and woefully inadequate in providing any kind of pressure on the passer. It's never been more apparent than in those handful of games a year against teams with that elusive and well-earned "physical" reputation.

Well, in two glorified preseason scrimmages so far in 2011, the Redskins have held up impressively (and surprisingly) on the lines. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week one, both sides of the ball were more than competitive. Against the Indianapolis Colts in week two, the defensive line exceled again, while the offensive line did well in the running game but came up suspect protecting the passer.

Trent Williams, please pick up the white courtesy phone.

Against Baltimore tonight, all I really, truly want to see is both sides of the line of scrimmage battle to at least a draw with the Baltimore Ravens.

No team has gotten more mileage over the past decade out of a reputation for physicality on the lines than the Poe boys. Seeing these new Redskins go toe-to-toe in the trenches with that group, and hold their own, would go a long way to convincing this admittedly intriuged, but still skeptical, Redskins fan, that things may finally be turning around.

Crisp and efficient are nice. Through two weeks, the Redskins have shown plenty of both.

Match that with aggressive and tough inside, and we might just be onto something.



Anonymous said...

not sure we saw the same Indianapolis game but Beck reminded me of Jason Campbell of playing scared/safe by not seeing the entire field and too quickly dumping off - defenses will start blitzing Beck like crazy (see Indianapolis) and then running game will suffer

Mark "Om" Steven said...

Pretty sure we saw the same glorified scrimmage, my friend. We just saw it through different lenses.

Where you saw "playing scared/safe," I saw crisp and efficient operation within the system, to positive results. I think he did everything that was asked of him and more. A little more help from the OL and aggressive playcalling in the red zone, and I think he might have posted silly numbers.

Let's see how it plays out.

Master4Caster said...