I tuned in to Mike and Mike In the Morning on ESPN Radio today and they were doing a fantasy football marathon. I doubt that I need to remind anyone here that I am not particularly interested in fantasy football but as they were “debating” the merits of this guy versus some other guy, it flashed through my mind that there is an underrated position on an NFL roster. That position is Backup Quarterback.
The fact is that some starting QBs will get hurt during the upcoming season and will miss games. It is inconceivable that 32 starting QBs on opening day will be the same 32 QBs who take all the offensive snaps for their teams through to the end of the year. That never happens… In addition to injury situations, some of the starting QBs on opening day are going to play their way to the bench as the season progresses. This is not a “perhaps” situation; this is a “guaranteed” situation.
So, I started to think about teams that have good backup QB situations and ones that have shaky backup QB situations. This is not going to be the result of exhaustive research; most of this is off the top of my head.
I also realized that a few of the teams that I would consider having a “shaky backup” situation are in that category because the starting QB is excellent and the drop-off to whomever is the backup appears to be immense. So, let me start with that category and I will call it:
Apparently Shaky Backup QB Situations:
Pats: Jimmy Garropolo will have to be awfully good to measure up to Tom Brady.
Giants: Ryan Nassib will have to be awfully good to measure up to Eli Manning.
Steelers: Gradkowski and/or JOnes will have difficulty by comparison to Ben Roethlisberger.
Colts: Scott Tolzein is not Andrew Luck.
Packers: Brett Hundley is not Aaron Rodgers.
Shaky Backup QB Situations:
Titans: Matt Cassel backs up Marcus Mariotta. I like Mariotta from what I saw last year; I think Matt Cassel showed that he cannot play at the NFL level from what I saw last year.
Jets: They have 3 QBs on the roster behind Ryan Fitzpatrick. Even though Fitzpatrick is nowhere near a “great QB”, there is a huge step down to any of the backups considering that 2 of the 3 guys on the roster have never taken a snap in a real NFL game.
Texans: Brock Osweiler will start for Houston and that presents some questions all by itself. However, the backup at the moment is Brandon Weeden and I have seen him crash and burn enough times to conclude that the Texans will be in deep yogurt if Osweiler misses games. The other QB on the roster is Tom Savage; he does not have a “large body of work” by which to judge him…
Apparently Solid Backup QB Situations:
Bucs: Mike Glennon used to be the starter in Tampa and did not embarrass himself or the team. Now he backs up Jameis Winston there.
Niners: Colin Kaepernick was the starter for the Niners in the Super Bowl not so long ago. Now he backs up Blaine Gabbert; that should work.
Eagles: Chase Daniel has had 3 years to learn Doug Pederson’s offense from KC Chiefs’ days. Now he backs up the injury-prone Sam Bradford…
Bengals: AJ McCarron acquitted himself well backing up Andy Dalton last year. Were it not for late-game melt-downs by Pacman Jones and Vontaze Burfict, the Bengals would probably have won their first playoff game in a long time with McCarron at QB.
Browns: Josh McCown is the backup to RG3; unless RG3 reasserts his game to the level it achieved in his rookie year in Washington, McCown may in fact be the better QB on the roster. [Yes, I realize that is damning by faint praise …]
That covers about half of the NFL teams. If you are convinced that backup QB is an important position, you can check out the depth charts for the rest of the league and fill in the blanks here.
Oh, by the way, the fact that I can only come up with 5 backup QB situations that I would call “Apparently Solid” is not an opening for the Tim Tebow Fan Club to screech that he deserves a shot in an NFL training camp and that he is being “blackballed” – for some nefarious but unspecified reason – by the NFL or maybe by the Trilateral Commission.
Finally, here is an interesting observation from Brad Dickson in the Omaha World-Herald:
“In 2017, Omaha will play host to the U.S. Olympic curling trials. If you’ve never watched curling, picture a three-hour algebra lecture featuring brooms.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………