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Posted at 12:57 PM ET, 08/17/2011

Who are John Beck’s comparables?


(John McDonnell - The Washington Post)
I know a lot of you are skeptical about just how much the Shanahans like John Beck, but the latest piece from ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano should at least convince you that yes, they like him an awful lot.

“He’s a hell of a quarterback,” Kyle Shanahan told Graziano. “He believes in himself, and he should, because he’s a talented guy who should be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Now, we’ve got to see how he plays when the lights come on. We’ll put him in the game and see how he handles the pressure of being the guy. If he can handle the pressure, we know he's capable from an athletic standpoint.”

“I know people that can play,” Mike Shanahan told Graziano. “I don’t even worry about what people say. I know John Beck can play in this league. Why hasn’t he played? Why hasn’t he had a chance? I really don’t care what the different thought processes are, but I know John can play in this league.”

Those are strong statements. And yet, if you look at the numbers, you realize that John Beck becoming a successful quarterback at this stage of his life would be virtually unprecedented in NFL history.

Yes, he came out of school older than most quarterbacks, thanks to his mission to Portugal. Still, he’ll turn 30 on Sunday, without ever having won an NFL game or thrown for more than one touchdown in an NFL season, and with only one season of NFL stats on his resume.

So, has this been done before? Who are the comps? With help from Post contributor Neil Greenberg and Pro Football Reference, here are a few thoughts.

Post-merger quarterbacks who either debuted or saw their second season of NFL action at the age of 30 or 31.

Six men qualify: Jeff Garcia, Kerwin Bell, Brian St. Pierre, Todd Bouman , John Walton and Chris Weinke.

Garcia tossed 31 touchdowns at the age of 30. The other five of these men played in 14 games and threw a combined two touchdowns in the seasons in question.

Quarterbacks who, at the age of 30, in their first or second NFL seasons, threw for at least 10 touchdowns.

Jeff Garcia, who started his career in the CFL, threw for 31 touchdowns in that 2000 season — his second — at the age of 30.

Joe Kapp threw for 10 touchdowns in the 1968 season — his second — at the age of 30.

Post-merger quarterbacks who threw for at least 12 touchdowns for the first time at or over the age of 30.

Alex Van Pelt threw 12 touchdowns in 2001 at the age of 31.

Mike Livingston threw 12 touchdowns in 1976 at the age of 31.

Jim Miller threw 13 touchdowns in 2001 at the age of 30.

Gary Hogeboom threw 14 touchdowns in 1989 at the age of 31

Jeff Hostetler threw 14 touchdowns in 1993 at the age of 32.

Lynn Dickey threw 15 touchdowns in 1980 at the age of 31.

Frank Reich threw 15 touchdowns in 1996 at the age of 35.

Dieter Brock threw 16 touchdowns in 1985 at the age of 34.

Tommy Maddox threw 20 touchdowns in 2002 at the age of 31.

Doug Flutie, who spent the prime of his career in the CFL, threw 20 touchdowns in 1998 at the age of 36.

Trent Green threw 24 touchdowns in 2001 at the age of 31.

Jeff Garcia threw 31 touchdowns in 2000 at the age of 30.

The Gap

This is the most complicated query to explain, but Neil searched for all post-merger NFL quarterbacks who played their first season at or after the age of 26. He then tried to find the biggest gap between the end of that quarterback’s first NFL season, and the next time he actually played in an NFL game.

The winner was Shane Matthews, whose first NFL season ended in December of 1996, and who then didn’t play again until September of 1999, a span of nearly three full years.

Beck’s last NFL action came in December of 2007. If he plays this September, his gap will have Matthews beat by almost a full year.

So he could be going to a place that just about no NFL quarterback has ever gone before.

By and Neil Greenberg  |  12:57 PM ET, 08/17/2011

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