I spent a bit of time over the weekend pulling stuff together for my annual Pre-Season NFL analysis and predictions for every team in the league. That magnum opus will appear either Friday of this week or Monday of next week. However, in going through my notes and the schedules for the teams, the QB situation for some of the contending teams kept coming to mind. That got me to looking at the team depth charts and at team rosters so I could see who the backup QBs might be around the league.
And as happens more frequently than I would prefer to admit, my mind started wandering as I looked at the various backup QBs and I decided that I would categorize them here. Do not worry, I am not dumb enough to put them in a rank order so that people can argue over whom I put at #15 in the league as opposed to whom I put at #19. Rather, what I am going to try to do is to aggregate these backup QBs into General Categories and then list the players in each category alphabetically. In a few cases I will have a comment about the QB situation for a team based on the backup listed here.
The first General Category should be called Not So Good/Big Step Down From Starter:
- Trevone Boykin – Seattle
- Matt Cassell – Tennessee
- Brett Hundley – Green Bay [Packer fans never want to see him on a Sunday.]
- Ryan Mallett – Baltimore
- EJ Manuel – Raiders [JaMarcus Russell in better athletic condition]
- Kellen Moore – Dallas
- Jake Ruddock (maybe Brad Kaaya?) – Detroit
- Matt Schaub – Atlanta [His train left the station about 2 years ago.]
- Geno Smith – Giants [Sigh …]
- Scott Tolzein – Indy
Please note that of the ten QBs and teams listed here, at least six of them are serious playoff contenders. Those hopes would take a significant hit if the starting QB had to miss a long stretch of games during the season – or worse at the end of the season. All those people who gathered to demonstrate outside NFL HQs last week “demanding” that a team sign Colin Kaepernick and end his “blackballing” need to keep an eye on the 6 or 7 contending teams on this list for a serious injury to the staring QB. These teams want to make a run and they would be candidates to sign Kaepernick – – for football reasons not for societal reasons – – if the injury bug bites them badly.
The second General Category should be called Good Enough Not To Be An Embarrassment – Presumably.
- Derek Anderson – Carolina [Not spectacular but steady.]
- Ryan Fitzpatrick – Tampa Bay [Journeyman with lots of experience.]
- Nick Foles – Philly
- Landry Jones – Pittsburgh
- Colt McCoy – Washington
- Matt Moore – Miami [Played well until playoff game last year.]
- Drew Stanton – Arizona [Has a winning record as a starter.]
None of these seven backup QBs is a serious threat to unseat the starter in town but all of them have demonstrated in the past that they can come off the bench for a couple of weeks and avoid a team meltdown.
My third General Category should be called Who Knows If This Guy Can Play?
- CJ Beathard – SF
- Paxton Lynch – Denver [Once again behind Trevor Siemian.}
- Patrick Mahomes – KC
- Sean Mannion – LA Rams
- Nathan Peterman – Buffalo
- Mitchell Trubisky – Chicago [Bears fans pray this guy can play well.]
- Deshaun Watson – Houston [May be the starter by Thanksgiving?]
Please note that of the seven backup QBs on this list, five are rookies and one – Sean Manion – has only seen the field for parts of 2 games going into his third year in the league. Maybe this category should have been called the “Leap Of Faith” category?
My fourth General Category should be called At Least this Guy Has Been Around for A While…
- Kellen Clemens – LA Chargers [Eleven seasons; 21 starts]
- Chase Daniel – New Orleans [Seven seasons; 78 pass attempts; 56 games]
- Chad Henne – Jax [Eight seasons; 18-35 as a starter.]
It is worth noting that Chad Henne may not belong on this list at all because he may beat out Blake Bortles for the starting job in Jax because Bortles has been underwhelming in Exhibition Games so far. If that turns out to be the case and I had to figure out where to put Blake Bortles in my General Categories, it would be in the next one…
My fourth General Category – the one where Blake Bortles would go if he winds up as the backup in Jax should be called Oh My, This Guy Had A Bad Year Last Year
- Case Keenum – Minnesota
- Cody Kessler – [Not the reason the Browns were 1-15 last year, but …]
My fifth General Category has only one entry and exists only because I could not really find another place for this so I’ll call it It Just Does Not Matter
- Christian Hackenberg/Bryce Petty – Jets
Unless this NFL season is nothing more than a Walt Disney sort of plot where the Jets are the football equivalent of The Bad News Bears, then the reality is that the Jets are already out of contention for the playoffs and the season will not start for two more weeks. It does not matter which of these guys is the backup or if one of them is the starter
My sixth and final General Category should be called The Best Backup QB Situations For 2017.
- Jimmy Garoppolo – New England [The best backup QB this year – period.]
- AJ McCarron – Cincy [The next best backup QB this year – period.]
Finally, Scott Ostler had this comment in the SF Chronicle recently. I like his thinking here:
“The hottest race in the NFL this year might be between the Jets and the 49ers: Sucking for Sam, or Diving for Darnold — USC quarterback Sam Darnold. The Jets probably have the edge, but watch the fun if both teams hit the midpoint 0-8.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports ………
7 thoughts on “Backup Quarterbacks”
If Kaepernick were a backup right now, to which group would you assign him?
He certainly would fit in the category of a backup that will not embarrass the team on the field. My problem with putting him there is that I think he is better than all of those guys I listed. Maybe he belongs there simply as the “top dog” in that category.
However, I think I would put him in the “Best Backup QB Situation for 2017” category along with Garoppolo and McCarron.
Where would you put him?
I agree with you, except he may be a starter for several teams and someone else would be on your list.
Yes, he could start for a few teams. However, since no GM is falling all over himself to offer a “backup job/backup contract offer”, I think it would be Pollyannish for him to contemplate starting anywhere in the NFL at the start of the 2017 season.
I think Kaepernick will start, for exactly the reason you said. A playoff contender will lose their starter for 6 weeks or more. Bad teams will not take the grief for signing him as a starter if he won’t get them to the postseason. No team will take that grief for a backup QB – if he even took the job. (He may want to wait and see if a starter slot opens due to injury, plus the HUGE pay cut) Some teams will risk it if a playoff berth is at stake.
You just had to say the words JaMarcus Russell, didn’t you?
I said he looks like JaMarcus Russell only in better condition. Given what he has accomplished on the field in NFL games, would you deny that he would represent a big step down in competency from Derek Carr?
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