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Expectations for John Beck

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Since John Beck is officially the QB, it's time to get into what our expectations for him will be. It's important to note that you need to be realistic in what you expect. He's a rookie who will be playing for a team that does lack talent at the skill positions. He's also going to be starting in one of the most difficult places to play - the Linc in Philly. So everyone needs keep their expectations limited. Don't expect that simply because we finally get to see John in there, this team is going to win games. And do NOT get all pissy and start to call John a "bust" if he struggles. That's simply not fair. If he makes some bad reads and poor dicisions, it doesn't mean he's a slow learner. He simply needs time (and some more talent around him would help, too). So my advice to everyone is to be patient and simply enjoy watching the progress that John will be making from game to game.

With that said, what better time to look back at the first career NFL starts of some other NFL quarterbacks and see how they fared. First up, we'll look at the "big 3" as I like to call them. They are Dan Marino, Joe Montana, and John Elway:

*number of games player saw action before 1st start
Player Year Games* vs comp/att Yds TD Int Rating W/L
Dan Marino 1st 2 vBuf 19/29 322 3 2 108.7 L
Joe Montana 2nd 17 atLA 21/33 253 2 1 94.6 L
John Elway 1st 0 atPit 1/8 14 0 1 0.0 W

As you can see, Marino and Montana fared very, very well (but loss) while Elway struggled (but won). Now, the point of the above chart was not to compare John to Marino (or Montana) because that wouldn't be fair. It's to show that if he struggles, it doesn't mean he'll fail long-term. Just ask Denver fans about the progress Elway made.

Now we are going to look at the first career starts of 14 QBs who are currently still playing. Some are locks for Canton while others are still trying to make a name for themselves. Here are those players and their performances:

*number of games player saw action before 1st start
Player Year Games* vs comp/att Yds TD Int Rating W/L
Brett Favre 2nd 3 vPit 14/19 210 2 0 144.6 W
Peyton Manning 1st 0 vMia 21/37 302 1 3 58.6 L
Ben Roethlisberger 1st 1 atMia 12/22 163 1 1 74.6 W
Tom Brady 2nd 2 vInd 13/23 168 0 0 79.6 W
Marc Bulger 2nd 0 vOak 14/21 186 3 0 134.1 W
Drew Brees 2nd 1 atCin 15/19 160 2 0 136.8 W
Philip Rivers 3rd 4 atOak 8/11 108 1 0 133.9 W
Carson Palmer 2nd 0 atNYJ 18/27 248 2 1 105.2 L
Matt Hasselbeck 3rd 32 atCle 20/34 178 0 2 48.4 W
Jay Cutler 1st 0 vSea 10/21 143 2 2 62.3 L
Donovan McNabb 1st 6 vWas 8/21 60 0 0 46.3 W
Eli Manning 1st 2 vAtl 17/37 162 1 2 45.1 L
Jason Campbell 2nd 0 atTB 19/34 196 2 0 92.3 W
Trent Edwards 1st 1 vNYJ 22/28 234 1 1 98.5 W

As you can see here, not too many of them threw for a lot of yardage. The key, for the successful ones, was limiting mistakes. Many of these QBs were able to avoid throwing an interception in their debut. I think that will be one thing I'll be looking for on Sunday out of Beck. I don't have too high of expectations for his debut, but what I don't want to see is John throw 3 or 4 interceptions. Of course, if the team falls behind early, then there's a higher chance of that because Beck will have to throw more. So it will be important for the defense to step up and keep the came relatively close.

Let's now take these 14 performances and average them out:

comp/att Yds TD Int Rating W/L
15/25 180 1.2 0.85 83.9 10-4

It's amazing to think that 10 of those QBs won in their first career start. But I'm sure they weren't playing for an 0-9 team that does lack talent. Those averages are pretty fair. So my question to you all is if a 15/25, 180, 1 TD, 1 int performance would be a reasonable expectation out of John for Sunday.

I, for one, don't think so. I say this for two reasons. One, I don't want to set the bar too high and then get disappointed (the pessimist in me). And two, those 14 QBs had much more around them than John is going to have. Maybe if Ronnie was healthy and Chambers was still a Dolphin I might feel differently. But as it stands now, I'd be pleasantly surprised if John completed 60% of his passes for 180 and a touchdown while only throwing one interception. What do I expect? I'm not sure yet and I'll hold off on making a prediction for right now.

Now, I'll leave you with a link to the story I wrote the following week after John was drafted. It has bits and pieces of scouting reports on John coming out of college and features some videos of our QB in action for BYU. I encourage you to read it because I like to think it's one of my better pieces. My favorite part of it is the excerpt from the interview John gave Joe Rose on the radio a day or two after the draft:

Beck: I also made a comment yesterday about Dan Marino; how I can remember as a kid and through junior high watching him play; seeing a fire in his eyes. That fire was just a competitor wanting to win more than anything. And when I put that Dolphins uniform on, I want to have that fire in my eyes. I'm going to do anything I can to find a way to win.

Rose: Wow, I'll tell you, I'll play with you right now. Let's go out there and line up, kid. I'm ready to go. Hey, I promise you, John, I will never call you at home again and thank you so much for being with us this morning.

Beck: It was my pleasure. And you know what? If you do need to call me, go ahead and give me a call. I'm a Dolphin.

You sure are, John. And now, you're a starter!!