PROVO — John Beck explains Jason Beck.
When Bronco Mendenhall hired Jason Beck last week, it all made sense to veteran quarterback John Beck.
“I think it is one of the great hires by the school,” said John. “Ultimately, Jason’s understanding of the game, his experience and his personality are going to make a huge difference in the quarterback room at BYU.”
The former Houston Texans’ quarterback believes the other Beck will bring a unique perspective — one that is hard to match. Jason Beck was not low-hanging fruit in last week’s finalization of the Cougar offensive staff.
For purposes of clarity, we’ll refer to these two as John and Jason. And, no, they are not brothers, cousins or even second or third cousins.
Jason, says John, was a guy very high in demand. “He had several offers the past month, including the opportunity to be a head coach.” One might assume that job was the vacancy at Jason’s alma mater, College of the Canyons in California when BYU hired Garrett Tugaue, the previous coach. Jason had offers in hand when he held out for the BYU job this past month.
“Jason understands the passing game and training of quarterbacks," said John.
“He has a feel for playing the game. I’ve been around quarterbacks a lot. There is a fine line between working with QBs with the little things like footwork and mechanics. But there comes a time you can only do so much; then you’re just doing drills. You have to cross the line and get playing football and making plays. You need to know where to draw the line because on game day it all comes down to playing ball.”
Drafted by the Miami Dolphins, John has spent time in Baltimore, Washington and Houston. He’s currently a free agent vacationing with his wife and kids in Hawaii. John says he has steadily and consistently discussed football with Jason since both graduated from BYU in 2006.
“Jason knows the mechanics. He has a great feel for the game. I’m impressed by how much he knows. I can talk to Jason as if he was sitting in my NFL quarterback room. He gets it. He’s a really, really smart guy. He understands concepts. They make sense to him. He processes quick.”
John pointed out one trait he believes will be huge for Taysom Hill and other BYU quarterbacks. After the hire, John called Jason and told him how he’ll have to chew out some players. “But in the same breath I told him it is not in his repertoire to do that.”
John has been around a myriad of QB coaches in his career. Some are screamers. While most have huge egos, some have it under control and others do not. John says the demeanor of a QB coach is crucial. The best are teachers, counselors, motivators and instillers of confidence in a meeting, practice and on the sidelines. “When you get screamed at as a quarterback, sometimes you just shut down.”
Jason is “even keel” and that trait will benefit BYU immediately, predicts John.
“I think people will get along with him. He’s one of those personalities that people like to be around. He’s always smiling, always in a good mood. He talks well with people. That is important. I’ve been around a lot of NFL quarterback coaches and the best ones were those who were even keel. You have some who like to yell or scream or lose their temper. But quarterbacks are more likely to relate to someone who isn’t up and down but always about the same. It enables them to learn and gain confidence.”
This trait is key in changes like the one Mendenhall triggered after the bowl win over San Diego State in December. John warns BYU fans the new offensive staff is going to have growing pains. There will be an adjustment. “These guys haven’t worked together as a group. It’s natural they’ll need time to put it together. There will be a big learning curve at first.”
John knows. It’s the story of his career.
“I’ve been in a lot of bad situations, so I’ve learned a lot of lessons the hard way.
“You can’t make these kind of changes and not have some adjustments. Because of this, it is so important to have people who have the personality of Jason. He has experience in this; we both did. We both experienced coaches at BYU who were just getting broken into new jobs," he said.
"Brandon Doman had never coached and had just come out of the NFL, and at the time Robert Anae hadn’t been an offensive coordinator. It took time for everyone to learn things, ways to do things, what worked, what didn’t, what were strengths and weaknesses and what needed attention.
“Sometimes that led to some frustrating times. When it does, the quarterback has to shoulder that, live with it and deal with it. People expect the quarterback to overcome growing pains and make plays. So it’s nice to have a coach who is even keel and keeps the quarterbacks even keel.”
In other words, in a nutzoid, crazy, sky-is-falling situation, you don’t want a crosseyed, panicking coach stumbling over commands.
Both Becks were together during BYU’s 2005 loss at San Diego State. The Cougars just lost to TCU the week before by a point. In San Diego, BYU found itself in deep trouble offensively and the two Becks stood on the sidelines puzzled, confused and frustrated.
“Nothing would work and nobody on the staff knew how to fix it. Nobody had answers. That staff hadn’t been together very long and it wasn’t as if coach Anae had been calling plays for years and years."
John says Jason learned from that experience. “He saw what happened and understood why. He saw things the rest of that season and was there the next when everything began to work and we rolled. He knows how it got fixed.”
Experiencing highs and lows teaches great lessons.
Take Jason’s experience as a grad assistant at BYU, his job at LSU and Weber State and the fact he just took a Division II school from the bottom to the top offensively in one year as a coordinator. He has witnessed and experienced key elements in coaching.
“Jason saw this as a player and has seen it as a coach. This bodes well while BYU will have some growing pains with these coaching changes. He’ll be able to sit in that quarterback room, look players in the eyes and not only say he’s been there, but explain what is going on, why it is happening and tell them how he is going to fix and solve it. This is huge for a young quarterback.”
Proclaims John of Jason: “This will be a huge hire for Bronco, not only for this season, but for years to come.”
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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