We've talked a lot about the head coach situation of this franchise, but that isn't the only issue that needs to be resolved. So let's talk a little quarterbacking, shall we?
RISK IS NOW REALITY
In the Palm Beach Post, Greg Stoda writes a good article talking about the John Beck "experiment," as he calls it. He points out that the risk that the Dolphins inherited by starting Beck has now come to fruition. You'll remember we talked a lot about the high risk/high reward situation that the Dolphins would be going through by starting Beck. You'll remember one of the things I worried about when the original idea of starting Beck was talked about was how he'd react if he struggled. Would he lose confidence? Would this hurt his progression? Stoda ponders the same thing now:
The Dolphins had no business making John Beck their starting quarterback in the first place - he was working with a deck stacked against him - but they did so, anyway.
Now, an 0-9 record has dissolved into the abject misery of an 0-13 mark.
The latest installment came Sunday afternoon in Ralph Wilson Stadium when Buffalo handed the Dolphins a 38-17 defeat and ran Beck out of his position.
How deeply has the rookie quarterback been damaged?
Have the Dolphins ruined Beck by testing him in too many circumstances predictable for their potential for failure?
"He's learned a lot," said Dolphins head coach Cam Cameron, who is a rookie himself in the job of NFL boss. "He'll continue to grow. It's awfully early to put any final evaluation on him."
Cameron nevertheless made a decision to switch to Cleo Lemon - the quarterback Beck had replaced - late in the first quarter against the Bills with the Dolphins already trailing by a 21-0 count. Lemon promptly produced a touchdown in two plays with the set-up being a 54-yard completion to Ted Ginn Jr.
So, has Beck lost the starter's job?
"We'll let you know," Cameron said.
Beck, a 26-year-old out of Brigham Young and a second-round draft pick, hasn't been very good. He has led Miami to exactly zero touchdowns. That doesn't, or shouldn't, mean the Dolphins have decided they know all they need to know about Beck, but first impressions are difficult to erase no matter the environment in which they're made.
Soon enough, in fact, the whispers will become shouts that the Dolphins should use a high pick in the next draft - perhaps even the No. 1 should they get it and keep it - for another quarterback.
How's that for a delicious mess given Miami's many screaming needs?
First off, before we get into anything, Cam said today that he'll let us know on Wednesday what the QB situation will be for Sunday's game.
Moving on, isn't it interesting that Cam and his coaching staff seemed to have known better than the fans that it probably wasn't a good idea to start Beck? It seems to me that us fans, again, were wrong. But it's hard to trust a coaching staff that has been as inept as this one has seemed to be this year. But like Stoda said, Beck didn't have any business being the starter this year. After all, the original plan seemed to have been for John to sit out the whole year and learn. But thanks to the increasing pressure by the fans and, quite possibly, from ownership (but we'll never know that for sure), Cam felt like he had to throw Beck into the fire. And now look at where we sit?
Sure, one could argue that John should have been the #2 quarterback all along so that he wasn't stuck running the scout team in practice every day since training camp. That certainly would have improved Beck's grasp of the offense and his comfort level in this offense. But Cam didn't do that. He planned on John learning from Trent Green while Trent played every week. But all it took was one thrown block by Trent to ruin those plans. Even so, however, it probably would have been a better idea for Cleo Lemon to have played out the entire year with John working as the #2 quarterback in practice. But then again, hindsight is 20/20. I just wonder if that is what Cam would have done if we all didn't apply tons of pressure for John to play this season.
And that brings us to where we are right now. Like Stoda says in the article, there's the potential that people may begin shouting for the Dolphins to spend their #1 overall pick on a quarterback. After all, there seem to be 3 potential franchise QBs in this draft. And we've already seen that on this site, with at least one commenter saying that the Dolphins should draft a QB. But I don't think that's a good idea and here's why. You can't give up on John this quickly, first of all. It isn't fair to judge him when he's been surrounded by imferior talent and has played behind an offensive line that has seemingly regressed from where they were earlier this year. But more importantly, there are always 1 or 2 potential franchise QBs in the draft each year. And if Beck, or whoever our QB happens ot be next year, struggles badly, then odds are that we'll have a top 5 or 10 pick yet again in 2009 and then we can consdier taking a QB. It doesn't make sense to draft one this year when a) we have a guy like Beck who could still turn out to be the QB this franchise needs; and b) we have so many other needs that need our attention.
So that's where I stand on this subject right now.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Omar Kelly, in a blog post, asks an interesting question:
History is waiting.
So what would you do if you were Cameron?
Would you stick with Beck, hoping that he'll eventually work his way past these struggles and nerves and become the franchise quarterback the Dolphins drafted him to be?
Or would you shelve Beck and play Lemon, hoping that the veteran's experience edge and mobility not only help the offense score points, but also silence the veterans' concerns that management isn't doing everything needed to get a win?
That's an interesting question and something that we can really discuss until Cam finally announces what he is doing. After all, it doesn't matter what we would do when he is still the head coach...for now.
So what would I do? That's easy. I would start Beck and play him the full game in each of the 3 remaining games. Why? Here's my reasoning:
- We already know what Cleo Lemon's ceiling is. He's a career backup at best. We still don't know what Beck's ceiling is. We don't know how good he might become. But this I do know: he's more accurate than Cleo and has an arm that's just as strong as Cleo and throws with just as much zip. So if he can just grasp the mental nuances of the game at the pro level, then his potential is far, far, far greater than Cleo's. Far, far, far, etc...
- John seems like he is mentally tough enough to go through these struggles and come out with his confidence in tact. He doesn't strike me as a David Carr, Joey Harrington, or Patrick Ramsey, where their struggles and the physical beating they took as young QBs really cracked their psyche and destroyed their confidence.
- I've already accepted the fact that this team is likely to go 0-16 and I don't think that having Cleo start these 3 games will change that. Sure, Lemon does give the Dolphins the best chance to win. But what good will a win do? Would I like to not go 0-16? Of course. But I'd rather look to the future. And the best way to do that is by letting John start and allow him to learn from his mistakes and grow as a player.