Lemon Move Leaves Bitter Taste

Coach Cam Cameron finds himself in a tough spot these days when it comes to dealing with John Beck. There's the issue of trying to win versus trying to develop his quarterback of the future. After sticking with Beck for three full games, Cameron pulled the rookie against Buffalo, and it's a move that no doubt will be dissected. Maybe it was the right move at first, but then it wasn't.

Beck was pulled after the ball slipped out of his hand on a pass attempt and landed right into the hands of blitzing Buffalo safety George Wilson Jr., who had himself an easy touchdown.

Beck already had been sacked twice and he also had lost yardage while tripping over the foot of center Samson Satele. So he definitely was having a hard time.

Buffalo was blitzing mercifully and Beck really looked like he was affected by it.

So maybe there was something to Beck staying on the sideline for a while after the touchdown that made it 21-0 so he could observe and get his bearings, so to speak.

Cleo Lemon made the decision look good right away, as he connected with Ted Ginn Jr. on a 54-yard pass and then handed off to Samkon Gado to complete a lightning-quick touchdown drive.

But then Lemon settled back into being Cleo Lemon, which means he was inconsistent with his passes, had problems handling the ball and overall just looked like a backup quarterback.

By halftime, the score was 31-7 and it was unrealistic to think the Dolphins had any chance at winning the game. They did make it close with 10 points in the third quarter, but that was partly because Buffalo was doing nothing offensively except run the ball and work on the clock.

By the time the third quarter rolled around, Beck should have been back in the game.

Period.

Again, he is -- or at least might be -- the Dolphins' future at quarterback.

Cleo Lemon isn't, never was, never will be.

If Beck isn't going to be because it turns out he wasn't as good as the Dolphins thought when they made him their second-round pick last April, they need to find that out.

That is important. It's vital. It's essential.

In fact, it's probably the most important thing the Dolphins need to do the rest of the season, more important even than getting a victory to avoid the embarrassment of going 0-16.

The Dolphins have to find out one way or another before the end of this season whether they can be confident with John Beck as their quarterback for next year or whether they need to get somebody else, maybe with their high first-round pick.

They just have to.

And they're not going to with Beck on the sideline for the last three quarters-plus against Buffalo. Taking him out late in the first quarter to let him get his head straight? Fine. Not putting him back in? Big mistake.


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Alain Poupart is the Associate Editor of Dolphin Digest and DolphinDigest.com. To read him every day, visit DolphinDigest.com and become a Miami Dolphins insider.