Beck or Bartel?
Sounds like a choice of draft beers at the local tavern.
It's a result of what 'ales' the Redskins.
Donovan McNabb's ankle injury won't cost him his job but might create one if the Redskins decide they now must carry three quarterbacks, at least in the short term. Rex Grossman seems certain to be McNabb's backup, so the preseason finale on Thursday night on the road against the Arizona Cardinals could be the deal-maker or deal-breaker for John Beck and Richard Bartel.
One man's misfortune is another's good luck. One player's injury closes a door but opens one for another.
Always true in the NFL. Even more as the teams prepare to cut their rosters to 75 players by Tuesday afternoon, play their final preseason games on Thursday and then hack their way down to a group of 53 on Saturday.
Beck faced a bunch of questions after practice Monday about his development, his role, his chances after such a short time with the club. He was acquired from the Baltimore Ravens in a trade on Aug. 2 for cornerback Doug Dutch, who coincidentally, was cut by the Ravens Monday morning.
Will Beck start against the Cardinals? Bartel? Grossman? Head coach Mike Shanahan said no decision had been made, though Grossman had said he did not expect to play against the Cardinals.
"We'll talk about that going out to the game," Shanahan said. "We won't tell the quarterbacks until the last second. Keep them guessing. Evaluate practice and see who deserves the chance to start."
Risking Grossman wouldn't be prudent with McNabb still not practicing, so logic says Beck or Bartel opens and both play a considerable amount. What they do and how they do it could factor into the final decision as to whether the Redskins keep a third quarterback.
A decision on someone's future with the club, if not in the league, runs parallel with that call.
"They brought me in here for a reason," Beck said. "I'm going to go out there and try and play the best I can."
He's got more pedigree than Bartel. Beck was a second-round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2007, played in five games and started four, all losses. He hasn't taken a snap in a regular-season game since.
Bartel was on the Redskins' roster as the third quarterback last year and threw the game-winning touchdown pass in the victory against the New York Jets last week.
He originally signed with the Dallas Cowboys as undrafted free agent in 2007 and spent time on their practice squad and on the Cleveland Browns' and Jacksonville Jaguars' as well. He was on the active roster with the Browns for the final game of 2008 but did not play.
Bartel seemed almost relieved that the time for decisions had come and that an opportunity to influence them drew near.
"This is really a freeing time for me. It's been a long off-season and you kind of look forward to something happening, whether you're in or you're out. You put in a lot of hard work and it's time to reap the reward of that hard work," he said.
Bartel saw action late against the Jets, completing three of five passes for 28 yards a 15-yard touchdown on a screen pass to Larry Johnson. Beck, with more extensive work, is nine of 18 for 103 yards but he has also been sacked three times.
Hey, this puts meaning into a so-called meaningless preseason game. It impacts the shaping of the roster and maybe two careers.
"I think I've said this from the first day. When it comes to the 53 and eight practice squad guys, we'll sit down at that time and try to put the top 53 together. Lot of different directions we could go," Shanahan said. "Are you healthy at that position or other positions? Then, if you're trying to sneak somebody on the practice squad, what are the chances at one position compared to another position? You go through a lot of thought before you actually put the top 53 out there. I can't tell you at this time."
Even if he could, he wouldn't. He will let the players play. Let them try to win a game, and let them try to win a job.
"It's not that there's not pressure but that's the quarterback position," Beck said. "If you're in the NFL, you played in college and if you played in college, you played with pressure."
Same with Bartel. Focus on the smaller picture and allow the other details to fall into place.
"I've been here since March, I've got a lot of work on tape in this offense, I think they have a pretty good idea of what I can and can't do," he said. "This certainly would be a 'cherry on top' deal but I'm not going in putting all my eggs in this game. I really want to go and execute the offense and just be the complete quarterback."
Even if it's the third one. If there is one.