Backup QB Situations
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08-09-2011, 05:55 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Backup QB Situations
Your backup QB...the one player on your team you hope never has to see the field, yet you'd be equally mortified if your team didn't have a good one in place.
The topics of ranking starting QBs and looking at QB competitions get beat to death around this time every year, but if you think about it, only a select few teams each season seem to get a full 16 starts out of their QB. And just those one or two starts missed here or there can make the difference between, say, earning a bye week or being a wild card team...or making the playoffs vs. not making them at all.
So, what I've tried to do here is grade each teams backup QB situation. I broke each team down into one of two possible criteria in order to grade them. They are:
Criteria #1: If the team has an established starter, and that starter misses 1-4 games, could the backup go about .500 in those games?
Now, I think it's unrealistic to expect your backup to come in and win every game. It almost never happens and in most cases, your lucky if he does anything positive at all. I also picked a span of 1-4 games because for most teams, if their starter misses any more than that, their season is likely going to be lost. If the Packers were to lose Aaron Rodgers for longer than that, or the Saints were to lose Drew Brees, both of those teams would likely struggle for the rest of the season no matter how good their backups are. Also, I defined "established starter" as a QB who, barring injury or sudden extreme poor performance, would be his team's starter for all 16 games.
Criteria #2: If the team does not have an established starter, do they have a talented young player on the roster to play in the long-term, and a capable veteran to start in the short term?
This is my sort of "catch all" category for the teams who don't have an established or potential franchise-caliber QB in the place. If it looks as though a team will be starting a young, unproven QB, i like to see a veteran backup in place to help him develop and take over if need be. Alternatively, if the team is looking to start an aging veteran/journeyman, I like to see that they have a talented young QB in place developing behind him for use down the road.
It may be a little confusing, but hopefully it will be an enjoyable read. So, without further ado, here is my current grades for backup QB situations in 2011.
1.) For teams with established starters: Could the backup QB go .500 in games the starter misses?
2.) For teams without established starters:
a.) If the starter is young, do they have a veteran backup to help him develop?
b.) If the starter is a veteran, do they have a young QB on the roster developing for the future?
Presumed Starter: Jay Cutler
Backups: Caleb Hanie, Nathan Enderle
- Thank god Todd Collins is gone. I don’t care if he knew the offense, he couldn’t execute it worth a damn. Hanie provided a huge spark for the Bears in the NFC Championship game, and did about as well as you can hope for as a 3rd string QB coming in cold off the bench. Hopefully he now knows the system well enough for Martz liking, or we may try to bring Trent Green out of retirement again….I also fully expect Enderle to make the final roster unless he’s downright awful in the preseason. We tried, and failed, to sneak Dan LeFevour onto the practice squad last year so I doubt we’ll try that again with Enderle who is a solid developmental 3rd stringer. A situation that could be better, but isn’t awful.
Presumed Starter: Matt Stafford
Backups: Shaun Hill, Drew Stanton
- With the ever present risk of injury for Stafford, Detroit has to have quality backups, and I believe they do in Hill and Stanton. Hill proved last year that he could play at a reasonable level for a backup QB, and at least keep the Lions competitive. They also wisely resigned Stanton as further insurance. One of the league’s best backup QB situations in my opinion.
Green Bay Packers:
Presumed Starter: Aaron Rodgers
Backups: Matt Flynn
- It’s difficult to replace a top 5 QB in the league, but Flynn showed the ability to do so in limited time last year. I felt like there might be a market for his services in the offseason, but one never materialized. (Not that the Packers would have been too eager to trade him even if they did get offers.) If Rodgers goes down long term, the Packers are probably screwed, but I think that Flynn could keep them competitive over short periods if needed.
Presumed Starter: Donovan McNabb
Backups: Christian Ponder, Joe Webb
- The Vikings fit my other criteria for grading backup QBs in that their backup is going to be their starter down the line. I personally feel as though McNabb is washed up and will be riding the bench by the end of this year, but I know there are some who still believe he has some gas in the tank. Regardless of when it is, the Vikings have a young rookie ready to go whenever he’s needed in Ponder. A decent situation for the Vikings to be in.
Presumed Starter: Joe Flacco
Backups: Tyrod Taylor, Hunter Cantwell
- Yikes…I had to double check to make sure there wasn’t another veteran ESPN didn’t list. This is all the Ravens have behind Flacco since Marc Bulger retired. I’d be somewhat shocked if they didn’t sign a veteran at some point before the season started. I know some people are higher on Tyrod than others, but for a playoff team with Superbowl aspirations, having Flacco miss a game or two with only a rookie and a no-name vet backing him up could lead to devastating losses.
Presumed Starter: Andy Dalton
Backups: Bruce Gradkowski, Jordan Palmer, Dan LeFevour
- Early indications seem to show that Andy Dalton is earning the Bengals starting job, and his OC Jay Gruden seems to love him. If that is the case, then it would seem that Gradkowski would become the primary backup while Palmer and LeFevour fight for the #3 job. Overall, the situation looks pretty bleak. If a rookie 2nd round pick appears to be outright winning the starting job, it’s probably not a great situation. I like Gradkowski as a backup to a veteran, but as the mentor to a young rookie? I’m not so sure.
Presumed Starter: Colt McCoy
Backups: Seneca Wallace
- Is it a bad thing that I like this situation better after they cut Jake Delhomme? It looks like the starting job is McCoy’s to lose and Wallace has the backup job firmly in check. As long as McCoy continues to develop, I don’t think this one is too bad. Wallace has been a solid backup in the league for years now and brings the added bonus of mobility when in the game. I don’t think either of these guys have true franchise QB tools though, which hurts the score a bit. I’ve also heard rumors that Cleveland may be in the running for Terrelle Pryor if he’s in the supplemental draft…something else to keep an eye on.
Presumed Starter: Ben Roethlisberger
Backups: Byron Leftwich, Dennis Dixon, Charlie Batch
- I’m surprised that Neil O’Donnell and Kordell Stewart still aren’t floating around…The Steelers keep a lot of backups handy, and for good reason. Big Ben has only started 16 games once in his career, and lately always seems to be dealing with some sort of minor injury that usually costs him a game or two. (Or a suspension that costs him 4…yanno.) I don’t know if they’ll keep all 4 around again, but it’s a solid group of backups however it shakes out and should keep the team afloat should Ben miss any action.
Presumed Starter: Tony Romo
Backups: Jon Kitna, Stephen McGee
- We got to see this backup situation play itself out last year when Romo missed 10 starts. Kitna wasn’t great, but wasn’t downright awful either. If the Cowboys can rebound and become a playoff contender this year, I’d feel confident that Kitna could give them a solid start or two if pressed into action. I also would have liked to see Stephen McGee get a little more action than he did. I heard that they were trying to protect him from that awful o-line, but once it was apparent that the season was lost, I would have stuck him in to see what he could provide. Now he remains a question mark.
Presumed Starter: Eli Manning
Backups: Sage Rosenfels, David Carr
- While he has played through several injuries, Eli hasn’t missed a start since his rookie year. And just in case he does miss some time, the Giants have a couple of solid veterans behind him. While I wouldn’t want Rosenfels or Carr starting a lot of games, they could probably fill in for a game or two to keep the Giants competitive.
Presumed Starter: Michael Vick
Backups: Vince Young, Mike Kafka
- Much like Big Ben on the Steelers, Vick has only completed 16 games once in his career too. And if the Eagles are all in for a Superbowl run this year, they’ll need a solid backup QB situation. Vince Young was a winner early on in Tennessee, even if it wasn’t always in a pretty fashion. I think signing Young as the backup was one of the best moves the Eagles could make at the position after trading Kolb. Plus they keep Kafka as the 3rd QB gaining experience in the offense.
Presumed Starter: John Beck
Backups: Rex Grossman, Kellen Clemens
- Ewww…..this is just an awful situation all the way around. The fact that the father/son Shanahans are banking on John freaking Beck this year makes me feel as though someone else will be coaching in Washington next year. And behind him? Grossman…ew. And Clemens…meh. No youngsters developing, no veterans who are worth a damn. An ugly, ugly situation overall, and just looking at the backups. I have a feeling they may be in the running for Terrelle Pryor in the supplemental draft if eligible, but that wouldn’t change anything for this year.
Presumed Starter: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Backups: Tyler Thigpen, Levi Brown
- While I’m not sure that Fitzpatrick is the long term answer, I think he can at least keep Buffalo competitive for a year. And behind him, they made one of the more underrated moves of the offseason bringing in Tyler Thigpen to reunite with Chan Gailey. Thigpen had a solid season a few years back with Gailey in Kansas City and brings a bit of athleticism to the position. Not bad Buffalo.
Presumed Starter: Chad Henne
Backups: Matt Moore, Kevin O’Connell
- Apparently, the Bronco’s asking price for Kyle Orton was just too high, so the Dolphins will once again be led by Chad Henne at QB this season. And with limited options available, they turned to Matt Moore as their primary backup. Moore might be decent if he were backing up a veteran, but I’m not sure how well he’ll be able to push Henne as starter if that is what they expect him to do. And O’Connell is a perennial 3rd QB at this point.
New England Patriots:
Presumed Starter: Tom Brady
Backups: Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett
- For most teams, I would say that having an untested former UDFA and a rookie 3rd round pick behind your future Hall of Fame QB is a bad thing. The Patriots are not most teams however. They must see something in Hoyer as, if I recall correctly, he was backing up Brady as a rookie. Plus you add Mallett who, as a 3rd round pick, is a low risk/high reward player and you have a solid situation by Patriots standards.
Presumed Starter: Mark Sanchez
Backups: Mark Brunell, Greg McElroy
- There is a lot of hate out there for Mark Sanchez, but he has been a winner so far in the pros. The situation behind him is kind of ugly…Brunell is as old as the hills but could be serviceable for a start or two if the Jets defense and run game stay strong this season. And McElroy is a developing backup.
Presumed Starter: Matt Ryan
Backups: Chris Redman, John Parker Wilson
- If you would have asked me back when the Falcons pulled Redman out of retirement after a lousy career in Baltimore, I would have given him an F as a backup. But, he’s been surprisingly average when called upon to play in Atlanta, and seems capable of keeping Atlanta’s head above water for a few games should something happen to Matt Ryan.
Presumed Starter: Cam Newton
Backups: Jimmy Clausen, Derek Anderson, Tony Pike
- It sounds like Newton will be starting for the Panthers right out of the gate, and that they are putting together a special, simple playbook for him. Which is fine given the alternatives. Jimmy Clausen was absolutely horrible last year, looking like a cross between a fish out of water and a chicken with it’s head cut off. And the only veteran on the roster is Derek Anderson “because he knows the system.” It’s a rough situation overall, but you can’t expect it to be all that great on a team coming off a 2-14 season.
New Orleans Saints:
Presumed Starter: Drew Brees
Backups: Chase Daniel, Sean Canfield
- Similar to the Packers, the Saints would likely be very screwed if Drew Brees went down long term. Unlike the Packers, the Saints have Chase Daniel as a backup who is completely untested. Should they need him just to fill in for a little while, who knows what they’ll get. Sean Payton must see something in him, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, but he does remain untested.
Tampa Bay Bucs:
Presumed Starter: Josh Freeman
Backups: Josh Johnson, Rudy Carpenter
- I think the Bucs are one of the brightest up and coming teams, and Freeman is one of the brightest up and coming QBs in the league right now. I think the Bucs fortunes pretty much live and die by how Freeman does, and if he misses any time, they’ll be in trouble. Johnson was pretty lousy in the starts he got and has only seen limited work since then.
Presumed Starter: Matt Schaub
Backups: Matt Leinart, TJ Yates
- If Wade Phillips can improve the Texans defense, they could be looking at their first ever playoff birth. But that requires Schaub to keep producing at a high level, and given that his backup is Leinart, Schaub cannot afford to miss significant time. Yates is a solid 3rd string rookie to develop.
Presumed Starter: Peyton Manning
Backups: Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky, Nate Davis
- The only way you’ll see playing time as a Colts backup QB is if they lock things up early and you get to play in garbage time late in the year. However, with Manning likely to miss most if not all of camp and the preseason, his backups will see some extended work then. Still, if something were to happen to Peyton, this group of backups is only going to lead the Colts to a top 10 pick in the draft. Orlovsky is the only one with significant playing experience, and he was very “meh” in that time.
Presumed Starter: David Garrard
Backups: Blaine Gabbert, Luke McCown
- Most TV analysts said when the Jags drafted Gabbert that he would be able to learn behind David Garrard. I find this statement false, since if Luke McCown had been healthy last year, Garrard likely would have seen the bench. He’s definitely not worth his franchise QB type salary and is already missing time in camp with an injury, giving Gabbert a great opportunity to steal the starting job. It’s a mess of a situation that is difficult to grade since I don’t know who will actually be the backups, but if it stays like this, it could be an alright group with Garrard as the veteran and Gabbert as the developing youngster.
Presumed Starter: Matt Hasselbeck
Backups: Jake Locker, Rusty Smith
- With Hasselbeck as the starter and Locker able to develop behind him, this makes for a pretty good “criteria type 2” situation. I think the Titans could surprise with the still very serviceable Hasselbeck starting next year…perhaps not playoff level, but at least make a run and wind up around .500.
Presumed Starter: Kevin Kolb
Backups: John Skelton, Max Hall
- As many may be aware, I think the Cardinals paid too much for AJ Feely 2.0 in Kevin Kolb. But, this is about the backups and Kolb is pretty clearly the starter in Arizona. Unfortunately, the Cardinals backup situation is still pretty ugly. Skelton and Hall were just rookies last year, but they were still 2/3 of one of the worst QB situations ever last year. With Kolb, if he performs even mediocre, the Cards might be able to make a run at the title of a rather lousy division. But if he goes down, they’ll definitely be screwed.
San Francisco 49ers:
Presumed Starter: Alex Smith
Backups: Colin Kaepernick
- I’m not sure there’s been a #1 pick that’s gotten more chances with his original team despite being average at best than Smith. Still, in the short term, he’s a better option than most other QBs who were available and might just be able to produce in Harbaugh’s offense. (Like that hasn’t been said about every other coach he’s had…) Kaepernick is raw and if forced to start, probably wouldn’t help matters, but I’m not sure there’s a veteran available who would be much better at this point.
Presumed Starter: Tarvaris Jackson
Backups: Charlie Whitehurst
- In terms of overall QB situation, the Seahawks would be right there with the Redskins for worst in the league. In terms of their backup situation though, Whitehurst isn’t terrible. He managed a serviceable start last season to beat the Rams to get into the playoffs, and he if he ends up seeing playing time as a starter, it’ll be because Jackson failed in that role.
St. Louis Rams:
Presumed Starter: Sam Bradford
Backups: AJ Feely, Thaddeus Lewis
- I was a little surprised that new OC Josh McDaniels didn’t make a run at someone familiar with his system to bring in as a backup. Perhaps no one was available or the Rams completely (and wisely) tied his hands in making personnel decisions. At any rate, they will live or die by Sam Bradford next year, and are likely division favorites at this point. AJ Feely has shown in the past that he can be serviceable in a purely backup role.
Presumed Starter: Kyle Orton
Backups: Tim Tebow, Brady Quinn
- The fact that Brady Quinn is even on the roster is a scary proposition, and the team apparently isn’t on board with the idea of Tim Tebow as the future of the franchise if he has to compete for the backup role with Quinn. That said, assuming Tebow beats out Quinn while Orton remains the starter, Tebow showed late last year that he can provide a bit of a spark. It’s a messy situation, but they’re better off than some other teams as long as Quinn never sees the field.
Kansas City Chiefs:
Presumed Starter: Matt Cassel
Backups: Tyler Palko, Ricky Stanzi
- Much like the Ravens, the Chiefs backup QB situation is extremely ugly for a team with playoff aspirations. Their current backups have a combined 6 career pass attempts, all coming from Palko (who has been on 3 teams already in his short career) just last season. I’m thinking that maybe they’ll bring back Brodie Croyle (or another veteran) before the season. I feel like they need to.
Presumed Starter: Jason Campbell
Backups: Kyle Boller, Trent Edwards
- Though they lost last year’s primary backup (Gradkowski) to the Bengals via free agency, they did bring in Trent Edwards to compete with Kyle Boller giving them two backups with starting experience in the league. Given that they don’t seem entirely sold on Jason Campbell, one or both could end up getting some starts before this season is over. Rumor is that they could also be one of the teams interested in Pryor if he is eligible for the supplemental draft, and that would give them an athletic development type that would fit what Al Davis likes in a player.
San Diego Chargers:
Presumed Starter: Philip Rivers
Backups: Billy Volek, Scott Tolzein
- While he’s played through some injuries, Rivers hasn’t actually missed a start since he assumed the starting job 5 years ago. And although it’s been longer since backup Billy Volek last got a start, he showed that he could play at a decently high level back when he played in Tennessee. It’s hard to say if he could still perform at that level or not, but I feel like it’s a better situation that many have.
Last edited by BeerBaron : 08-09-2011 at 06:56 PM.
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08-09-2011, 08:04 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Originally Posted by V-I-P
Let's say Green Bay deals Flynn. What is a reasonable draft pick?
Well, Kolb fetched a 2nd and DRC for the Eagles.
As of right now, if he had gotten traded this offseason, I'd expect him to get slightly less than that. Maybe like a 3rd and a conditional future pick.
But I think he was more valuable as a backup for the Packers than any reasonable offer they could have received this year.
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