Ok, before I dive headlong into the lively Raven’s backup quarterback debate let me say that this is just an observation from a guy sitting on the WNST barstool. I’m not an NFL scout, I’m fan. Been a fan for a while, and I just comment on what I see. That being said, am I the only one here who thinks John Beck might be a better backup to Joe Flacco then Troy Smith? Please understand, that I’m not enamored with Beck merely because of his fine performance in the Raven’s 20-3 win over the Atlanta Falcons in the most meaningless game ever created, the final NFL preseason game. In case you missed it, Beck was 16 of 28 for 232 yards and 2 touchdowns. And of course no interceptions. His first drive was a clock draining 14-play, 91 yard march that ended with a 5-yard toss to rookie Jason Cook. But there was also something else I saw while watching the game. It was how much Beck actually reminds me of Flacco. Don’t get me wrong, John Beck is no Joe Flacco, probably never will be. But this offense is being built around Flacco, a pocket passer who can occasionally break free from the pocket and make things happen with his legs. But let’s face it, any success Flacco has in the NFL will be with his arm, not his legs.
Troy Smith? Different story. And that’s where I think John Beck has a leg up on Smith. There’s less of a drop off from Flacco, should he go down, with Beck, not from an athletic standpoint, but from an offensive execution standpoint.
Look, Troy Smith is a phenomenal athlete, and a good quarterback. He has a strong arm, and can make alot of NFL throws. But in watching him, it always appears that his first instinct is to run instead of pass. He doesn’t seem comfortable waiting for a play to develop before he breaks the pocket. And that’s not how this offense is built. Beck on the other hand, stands tall, waits for his receivers to break, and delivers a strong, accurate throw. On that first drive, there was a play on third and ten in which the Falcons blitzed Beck. It was picked up well by the Ravens, and even with pressure coming at him, Beck delivered a strike to a late-breaking Demetrius Williams for a key first down. In my humble opinion, had that been Smith, he would have sensed the pressure, but instead of standing tall, he would have over reacted to it, and tried to move around, and in the end, maybe have gained 2 yards, forcing a punt on what turned out to be a touchdown drive. The preseason stats (I can’t believe I’m actually putting any stock in them) bear it out too. Smith in his preseason was 25-49 for 341 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 picks. Beck, 22-38 for 340 yards, 2 touchdowns and no picks. Close, sure, especially when you consider these games mean as much as the pickup games I play in with the guys from work. But, given everything else, to me, it’s a little telling. Smith was awful against the Jets, the last time he really saw much action. but Beck has been good, bordering on very good, whenever he has been on the field.
Even I know that there is no way you can simulate a December game in Pittsburgh for a backup quarterback, during the fourth preseason game in Atlanta. But I just haven’t seen it from Smith yet, not even in the preseason. In John Beck, I see a guy that can be called upon, in the event Flacco goes down, and run the offense the way it’s built. Troy Smith? Once again, not so much. I also have to be honest. When both quarterbacks were selected in the 2007 NFL draft, Beck in the 2nd round to Miami, Smith in the 5th round to our Ravens. I was intrigued with Beck, and was hoping, on draft day, that he would fall to the Ravens. Yes, I know Smith was the Heisman winner, but I did know enough about Beck’s accomplishments at BYU to know that he was much more prepared to be an NFL quarterback then Smith. Unfortunately, Beck was drafted into a miserable situation in Miami, and I don’t think was allowed to show what he can do, because of the garbage around him (see Zack Grienke).
At the end of the day, I hope that neither Smith or Beck see the field in 2009, for obvious reasons. But if it’s me, I’m much more comfortable seeing Beck replace Flacco, should the unthinkable happen. But am I the only one???