Tonight, we finally see him, the man we’ve all been waiting for even as we’re not entirely sure of his name. Jeff Beck? No, that’s the guitarist. John Beck, that’s it. He will appear tonight as the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins as they take on the Indianapolis Colts. The relatively new coach of the Redskins, Mike Shanahan, and his ace offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan – the spawn of the aforesaid Shanahan’s loins – believe, and have believed for many years, that Jeff – excuse me, John Beck is the second coming of Johnny Unitas.

They watched him in college, at BYU, where he apparently smote his opponents with his righteous passing. Tall in the saddle, good head, good arm, don’t drink, don’t smoke. After getting sidetracked into the Donovan McNabb Era of Redskin football, which lasted one seasons, the Shanahans have decided that Beck is the quarterback of the future, and possibly beyond.

For us fans, this is exciting! He’ll be in the shotgun and we’ll be glue-gunned to the set.

There is only one hitch.

It is that Beck has thrown, in his entire NFL career, precisely one touchdown pass. No doubt it was a beaut, but it was back in 2007, when he played in Miami.

In 2008, he did not take a snap, threw no passes, had quarterback rating of 0.0.

In 2009: Zero, zero, zero.

In 2010: Zeroes.

So there’s unfilled potential here.

As I like to say often about my own career: There’s been a vigorous effort to establish a baseline that increases the likelihood of subsequent improvement.

It has been widely reported that Beck is 30 years old, but that is not true, and borders on slander. Beck is 29 years old. he does not turn 30 until Sunday. Enough with this old-man talk.

Why do the Shanahans love this guy so much, passing up the chance of drafting or trading for another quarterback? We can only assume he has Canton-quality abilities to master the Shanahan playbook, which, by all accounts, is as impenetrable as “Godel, Escher, Bach.”

Old playbook, circa the days of Sonny Jurgensen: Hand off to running back who follows large men on a sweep to the right.

New playbook authored by the Shanahans: Quarterback lines up over center, identifies linebacker covering the tight end, identifies strong safety’s bias, calls audible to put wide receiver in motion, calls audible to put tailback in motion, hold brief conference via helmet radio with offensive coordinator in skybox, calls broker on wristband cellphone to set target price for Apple stock, shouts “hike,” drops back 4.5 steps and throws ball 7.25 yards to flaring tight end UNLESS:

a)Strong-side safety jumps tight end route, and/or

b)Weak-side linebacker circumvents blind-side offensive tackle, and/or

c)Broker calls back with counter-proposal for Microsoft at $32, and/or

d)Feeling of ennui sets in, in which case:

1)Quarterback spikes ball to turf, or

2)Scrambles manically for sideline, hoping to reach safety before someone who weighs 335 pounds and runs a 4.35 40-yard-dash separates his head and torso from the lower region of his body.

It is possible that tonight is the start of a legendary era in Redskins football. I doubt it – but I’ll be watching. And that’s kind of the main point, isn’t it?

Go John Beck!