Ex-Dolphins bust John Beck faces former team
MIAMI (AP) - Ah, the memories. John Beck's rookie season with the Miami Dolphins stirs images of bumbling, stumbling, fumbling and losing, lots of losing.
When he backpedaled, the entire offense would follow suit. In four starts, all defeats, Beck failed to lead his team to a single touchdown. He tripped and fell for a sack. One especially hapless fumble was returned for a score. Fans jeered and stand-up comedians poked fun until a merciful demotion sent Beck to the bench as a bust.
But there must also be some fond memories of playing in Miami, right, John?
"Not that I can think of, first hand, off the top of my head," Beck says.
Maybe Sunday will be something to savor. Beck's back in town to play against Miami for the Washington Redskins, who have given him a second chance as an NFL starter.
This could be his last shot. Beck's career record is 0-9, including 0-7 as a starter.
"You never know if you're going to get another opportunity," he says. "I just continue to try to work hard."
Plenty of players on both teams are struggling to keep their jobs. The Redskins (3-5) are tied for last in the NFC East, and a defeat this week would give Mike Shanahan the first five-game losing streak of his coaching career.
The Dolphins (1-7) ended a skid of their own last week at Kansas City, but they've dropped seven in a row at home since last November and remain contenders in the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes.
This is the Dolphins' worst season since 2007, when they lost their first 13 games and finished 1-15. Beck, a second-round draft pick from BYU, started games 10 through 13 and could do nothing to salvage the season.
"He was thrown to the wolves," Miami linebacker Jason Taylor says. "He was thrown out there and told, `Go make something happen. You're a second-round pick, and everyone wants to see what you have, so go do it.'
He was kind of put into an unfair position a little bit and not really given all the tools he needed to succeed."
The Dolphins used the 40th overall choice to draft Beck - still the highest pick they've devoted to a QB since taking Dan Marino in 1983. But the Bill Parcells regime took over in 2008 and quickly decided Beck wasn't their quarterback of the future.
Parcells drafted Chad Henne and signed veteran Chad Pennington, and Beck was released after watching the entire 2008 season from the sideline. He spent one year with Baltimore and never played, then joined the Redskins in 2010.
Now Beck's a 30-year-old survivor. His leadership, accuracy and decision-making remain in doubt, but he says his comfort level has increased.
"As a rookie you're wide-eyed, especially when you're going through the tough situation that we were in back in 2007 where we hadn't won a game and you become a starter," Beck says. "I feel like I've definitely improved, just getting what experience I can. There's not the wide-eyed look any more."
Even so, Beck has struggled since replacing Rex Grossman three weeks ago. He has two touchdown passes, four interceptions and 15 sacks, and his 72.1 passer rating is second-worst in the NFC, ahead of only Grossman.
The injury-plagued Redskins have scored 31 points in the three games started by Beck. They haven't held a lead since Oct. 2.
"The goals that I had coming into the season that you work so hard for - it has been kind of hard to accomplish those with the situation that we find ourselves in now," Beck says. "It's hard to say exactly where I'm at, but I just know that I'm still working at it."
Perhaps Beck can draw inspiration from his counterpart Sunday. The Dolphins' Matt Moore, eager to show he can handle the No. 1 job, was chosen AFC offensive player of the week after throwing three touchdown passes at Kansas City.
Moore struggled last year in Carolina, signed with the Dolphins as a free agent and became the starter when Henne was sidelined by a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 4.
"I just wanted a shot somewhere to be a backup," Moore says. "I've only been in the league four years, but I think that's long enough to understand that you don't have to be the starter to play."
But to keep playing you must play well, as Moore and Beck both know.