The backup quarterback is a guy you never want to think about as an NFL bettor. You hope that teams will only play their starters all year - especially the teams you bet on. It is inevitable, though, that due to injury or poor play several guys who are backups now will be forced into starting roles at some point in the season. For some teams that won't be a big deal - the backup is capable and the drop off should be fairly small. For other teams, though, the loss of a starter for an extended period would just be a disaster. Here's a look at the best and the worst backup QB situations at this point:
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Josh McCown, Cleveland: McCown isn't getting any younger, but he is capable and competent. Starting Robert Griffin III is the right thing to do for this team, but in the short term it is quite possible that McCown could be the more productive solution - especially if RGIII hasn't managed to recapture his early magic.
Nick Foles, Kansas City: Picking up Foles late in the summer was a truly masterful move for the Chiefs. They are poised to contend, and this is a great insurance policy. Foles had a disastrous time in St. Louis, but he isn't too far removed from actually being quite solid. Alex Smith is solid and dependable, so there is little pressure on Foles, but if needed he can fill in for this team admirably.
Colt McCoy, Washington: Kirk Cousins is a very good QB, and the Redskins will hope he stays healthy. If he is lost, though, McCoy is a decent backup. McCoy wasn't horrible as a starter, and that came on a Cleveland team that was as clueless as Cleveland teams always are. He's in his third year in Washington, so he knows the system.
Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay: Glennon was actually pretty solid as a starter for Tampa Bay in 2013 and part of 2014. There was a lot to build on there - if he had gotten the chance to build on it. He hasn't played in a long time, but he knows the system well and would be very capable in relief. I'm surprised the team has kept him around - he would be a valuable trade asset.
A.J. McCarron, Cincinnati: We saw a fair bit of McCarron as a starter down the stretch and into the playoffs last year. The playoff game against Pittsburgh wasn't great - but he was coached by Marvin Lewis, so playoff failure was a given - but the other four games were solid. So, we know McCarron can be a viable backup because he already has been.
Brett Hundley, Green Bay: The Packers deserve the benefit of the doubt - their last two starting QBs have been pretty solid. I saw a lot of Hundley in college, though, and I find it very hardly to believe that, just a year and a half later, he has turned into the future star that they want us to believe he is. Rodgers has had injury issues in the past, and the thought of turning this elite team over to Hundley should be a nightmare for anyone who likes this squad.
E.J. Manuel, Buffalo: Manuel was supposed to be the future star of this team. Now he's just hoping he can hold off Cardale Jones long enough to play out the rest of his contract. Manuel has been a major disappointment to date, and he would surely disappoint if he had to start again.
Scott Tolzien, Indianapolis: Tolzien was a five-year backup in Green Bay, but he threw only 91 passes over that time and was hardly inspirational. Now the Packers have moved on - and you already know how I feel about Hundley as an improvement. Tolzien is new to the Colts, and he is joining a team that was without their star starting QB for significant time last year. Matt Hasselbeck was the ideal fit for a situation like this. Tolzien is no Hasselbeck.
Ryan Nassib, New York Giants: Nassib is in his fourth year with the Giants. He has attempted just 10 passes in that time - none of them meaningful. Having a reliable, consistent QB like Eli Manning is a good thing, but it leaves a giant hole at the backup position. We saw the same with the Packers with Favre in charge or the Colts under Eli's big brother.
New York Jets: The Jets get the honor of all being included here because the whole thing is a mess. Ryan Fitzpatrick made the worst contract power play in the history of the league, and he's a lame duck on a one-year contract. Geno Smith is Geno Smith - and that is far from a compliment. Bryce Petty could struggle to transition to the NFL game, and it doesn't seem like he is being given a fair shot anyway. And Christian Hackenberg, this year's draft addition, was often just horrifyingly bad in college. His accuracy and decision making both left a lot to be desired. They have four guys on their roster right now, and none of them would excite me as a backup - never mind as a starter.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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