Top 10 Backup QB's

The first week of the preseason only allows for you to see your favorite stars for a scarce possession or two. So in honor of all the backup gunslingers we will see this month, here is a list of the best ten in the business. For those teams who do not have a clear number two on the depth chart, backups were combined into one super backup tandem. Enjoy!


10. Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles

There are undoubtedly a number Mark Sanchez fans out there who probably already exited out of this article after seeing him at number ten, but Sanchez defines what a letdown is; not only in football, but life. Just look no further than last year's run with Philadelphia in which a Nick Foles injury put Sanchez back into the spotlight. In his first few weeks back as a starting quarterback, the former USC Trojan looked like he was in a rhythm while playing to the strengths of Chip Kelly's QB friendly offense.

Yet, it was only the inevitable to have the train run off the tracks down the stretch against Seattle, Dallas, and Washington. Sanchez is still an experienced guy at this point in his career having made two deep playoff runs in his first two seasons, but that is just about the only thing that puts him on this list. Remember, you can take Mark Sanchez from the Jets, but you can never take the Jets out of Mark Sanchez. 

9. Derek Anderson, Carolina Panthers

Remember Derek Anderson's breakout 2007 season in Cleveland? That was a long time ago, and Anderson etched his name in history on the long list of Browns quarterbacks who have flopped in the last decade and a half. Anyway, Anderson has found a home as a stable backup quarterback since his days in Cleveland (this year will mark his fifth season in Carolina). He has shown to be reliable in preseason action, and you never know when your name will be called with an injury waiting to happen to Cam Newton.

Superman still seems to be having a hard time progressing as a consistent passer, and that is probably an attribute where Anderson has a leg up. No one is calling for Cam's job, but just something to ponder. Again, a veteran presence as a backup means big brownie points on this list.

8. Drew Stanton, Arizona Cardinals

Stanton could be called the J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones of the NFL; after Carson Palmer went down, he was the one at the helm for the Cardinals impressive start that led to a playoff appearance. Although his numbers were not jaw-dropping by any means, Stanton did what he had to do to win six of the nine games he started. Wins are all it comes down to at the end of the day, and the Cardinals won 11 last season.

If Carson Palmer is healthy all year, do they win more than 11? Probably not, so it goes to show the drop off from Palmer to Stanton is not as large as some may think. Maybe Bruce Arians is just that much of a quarterback wizard, but Stanton was pretty solid in 2014.

7. Matt Schaub, Baltimore Ravens

Enough with the Schaub memes and jokes. Yeah, so what if he once threw a pick six in four straight games back in Houston? Who cares he was probably once a top 15 quarterback in the NFL? Well, Matt Schaub probably does, but if you're looking for a quarterback in a pinch, this man is not a bad option. A career that has compiled a completion percentage of 64 and a passer rating of 90, Schaub has proven he can win games in this league. Joe Flacco going down would certainly be a big blow, but it would not be shocking one bit if Baltimore survived with Mr. Schaub.

6. Case Keenum/Austin Davis, St.Louis Rams

Finally, some young guns, and some promising ones at that. Individually, neither of these quarterbacks would probably appear on this list, but together, they make for a pair of incredibly raw and talented prospects. Case Keenum got his big break in 2013 with Houston (the worst team in football that year) and lost all eight games he played in. Not much to brag about there, but Keenum displayed he was a natural at slinging the rock. Throwing was nothing new for him, he was a prolific college quarterback at Houston where breaking records was his hobby. Glimpses of talent were definitely apparent for Keenum as a Texan, so we will see where his new location and future takes him. 

Austin Davis got a shot a year ago after Sam Bradford tore his ACL, and he too offered some promise. Although he went through some ups and downs in ten games, Davis threw for 2,000 yards, 12 TDs, and had a QB rating of 85 while completing 63% of his passes. The Rams have some options within their depth chart.

5. Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots

So how does a guy who has yet to start an NFL game rank five spots ahead of Mark Sanchez? Two reasons: One, he has yet to run into one of his guard's rear-ends. And two, Garoppolo would easily be able to run Chip Kelly's offense if the two switched spots today thanks to hi s athleticism and the fact he ran a similar offense at Eastern Illinois. Now, Garoppolo is too young to trust, but he is showing signs he can develop and become more than a backup. Arm talent, mobility, mechanics, check them all off. 

Although he has plenty to work on, which was clear in New England's Thursday night game, there was a lot to like in Jimmy G's 2015 debut. Bill Belichick was impressed with the way he handled a variety of situations the other night, so the arrow is pointing up. You watch this kid play, and he looks the part. If there is any coach that can get him to where he needs to go, it's the hoodie.

4. Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins

Cousins was drafted as a security measure for Robert Griffin III in 2012, and so far, neither plan A nor B has proven to be successful. However, when Cousins has been given the chance to play due to an RG3 injury, the young quarterback has not played as poorly as his stats and many analysts would suggest. Turnovers are a reoccurring problem when Cousins gets the go, but he has shown he can tear it up and look like a capable starting quarterback.

One game that sticks out is a game last season in Philadelphia. Washington fell short on the scoreboard, but Cousins was in a shootout with Nick Foles and would not back down. He finished with 427 yards, three TDs, and a rating of 103. This guy just looks like a starter one day if he ever could work on being consistent. Right now, a backup role sounds perfect.

3. Zach Mettenberger, Tennessee Titans

Tennessee's selection of Marcus Mariota is nothing but unfortunate timing for Zach Mettenberger, especially after proving to the Titans he may turn out to be a late round steal. Not many quarterbacks have the arm Mettenberger does, let alone the physical attributes he brings to the table. If you were looking to build the ideal pocket passer, you'd probably come up with something that looks like him.

He looks pretty cool out there in the pocket also, and with the ceiling that this kid has, it only means one thing: the Titans really do believe in Marcus Mariota. Some critics will say that the Titans potentially should have gone a different direction with Mettenberger displaying he could develop into something greater. Time will tell, but it is worth nothing that the only reason Mettenberger fell to the 6th round was because of an ACL tear. 

2. Brian Hoyer/Ryan Mallett, Houston Texans

What an interesting story line this is. Two Tom Brady proteges meet up in a new location to battle for a starting job. Their head coach? Bill O'Brien, former Patriots QB coach. The best bet would be Hoyer is named the starter because of what he brings in experience, but either way, the Texans have no need to panic if something happens to one or the other.

These are two very capable backups; what they can do as starters is more of a blind tossup. Hoyer was the starter last year in Cleveland and while he started hot, his finish was far from pleasant. Still, Hoyer has shown he can manage a game and do enough to win a contest. He also did not have the best supporting cast a year ago in Cleveland. 

Mallett on the other hand has been in the league since 2011 and still has not really had a chance to play. He got to start two games in November last year, only to tear his pectoral and miss the remainder of the season. Very similar to Mettenberger, Mallett has all the tools and can launch the ball. Unfortunately, we just have not gotten the opportunity to see any of them yet.

An old coach should get the best out of both these guys this year and enhance their play. So, add up a veteran like Hoyer and a raw Mallett, and the sum makes for great depth.

1. Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Hopefully Mike Glennon can find his way out of Tampa, because he now is stuck behind what the Bucs hope can be their franchise guy in Jameis Winston. As a rookie in 2013, Glennon proved he was starting material after posting 19 TDs (only nine INTs), a completion rate of close to 60%, and a QB rating of 84. The NC State product looked like he belonged despite his lanky and wiry build, and he again got to show it for six games last season as Josh McCown sat with an injury.

Through two seasons, on passes that were aimed in a direction of a receiver, Pro Football Focus has given Glennon a positive grade (4.1 in 2013, 2.2 in 2012) with a passer rating floating around 90. The passer rating of 84 mentioned above is accounting for all throws, but PFF's of 90 again captures only intended throws. Bottom line: Glennon is efficient and pretty darn good. He might be the best backup on this list, but he will not be a backup for much longer. No doubt he could be a starter for some teams today. I'm looking at you Rex Ryan.

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