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Rick Snider: The old man and the QB

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,Rick Snider

The lockout apparently is almost over. So how will the Washington Redskins do this season?

Maybe 6-10. Perhaps worse.

Seriously, who knows? Until free agency passes and draft picks practice, every NFL team is in limbo.

But that won't keep anyone from guessing. Fantasy league players are scrambling to prepare their rosters as much as Redskins general manager Bruce Allen.

Still, what will the Redskins do this season? If owner Dan Snyder lands three decent free agents, first-rounder Ryan Kerrigan produces and things generally go right, maybe the Redskins will be half decent.

But much of Washington's season comes down to two people already in town: coach Mike Shanahan and quarterback John Beck.

Shanahan hasn't overwhelmed anyone with his decision making since he arrived last season. Indeed, his poor management of Albert Haynesworth and Donovan McNabb tarnished his image.

Confidence and arrogance are close cousins, and Shanahan's benching of McNabb turned into a shell game of excuses. It showed Shanahan wasn't bulletproof. Haynesworth earned Shanahan's ire, but both looked bad after a season of sniping.

Did a quiet offseason help Shanahan discover his way isn't the only way? That old coaches sometimes need new methods? That what worked for two Super Bowl victories in the 1990s won't necessarily work two decades later? Joe Gibbs certainly learned that before he retired a second time.

This season Shanahan may be judged by Beck's success. It appears Shanahan believes he can turn Beck into a serviceable starter despite a resume that's nearly a blank page.

If Beck plays well, Shanahan shows he still has it. If Beck fails, so does Shanahan.

Maybe Beck will become the next Trent Green, who threw for 3,441 yards in 1998 with Washington after throwing only one pass in four previous seasons. Green emerged as a decent passer for seven seasons before concussions curtailed his career.

Nobody knows what Beck can do. He threw a few preseason passes last year just days after being traded to Washington. Shanahan clearly kept Beck out of the season-ender to avoid an offseason of second-guessing. This is the biggest mystery in Washington entering training camp -- unless the Redskins sign a free agent quarterback.

It was encouraging when Beck seized the chance to become a leader at the offseason player workouts. It showed he's not afraid to succeed. Now Beck needs to show he's good enough, and the Redskins need to find some receivers and offensive linemen to give Beck a chance.

Everything could change before the first snap of training camp. But Shanahan and Beck -- and not newcomers -- may be the keys to the season.

Examiner columnist Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more on Twitter @Snide_Remarks or email mailto:rsnider@washingtonexaminer.com ">rsnider@washingtonexaminer.com.

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