Imagine if you will, a parallel NFL universe where every thing is the same, except for one thing…. Every Quarterback for each playoff team has just torn their ACL whilst lacing up their cleats before practice. There is no chance for any of these guys to return before the Superbowl and the team has to roll with whoever is on their roster currently. One caveat here is that I am assuming Carr and Tannehill will not return in the playoffs.
So, which team would be best placed in order to win this years’ Superbowl based on their backup Quarterback play alone? Lets go from 12-1 worst to best.
12. Houston Texans
Current Starting QB – Brock Osweiller/Tom Savage (injured)
New Starter – Brandon Weeden
Lets face it; the Texans have one of the worst Quarterback situations in the league regardless of who is under centre. The fact of the matter is that whilst some of the guys on this list are either reliable backups or unproven veterans, Weeden is neither. The last extended action Weeden saw was a 3 game stretch with the Cowboys in which Dallas decided to bench him after 3 consecutive losses in favour of Matt Cassell who they traded for in order to replace him.
11. Detroit Lions
Current Starting QB – Matthew Stafford
New Starter – Dan Orlovsky
Orlovsky has been in the NFL for 12 seasons and has only featured in 26 games throughout his whole career. Whilst Weeden has proven that he can’t really play at the NFL level, Orlovsky has featured in so few games recently, (5 in the last 5 years) that it is difficult to tell. What is clear though is that he is highly thought of in Detroit having been re-signed to the Lions in 2014 after they drafted him in 2005. Not many players make it to 12 years in the league, especially at Quarterback, without having some talent.
10. New York Giants
Current Starting QB – Eli Manning
New Starter – Josh Johnson
After Ryan Nassib was injured in December, the Giants signed Josh Johnson off the street to backup the seemingly indestructible Eli Manning. Johnson has had a poor career with 5 TD’s and 10 INT’s and a QBR of 57.7. He hasn’t thrown a competitive pass in an NFL game since 2011 whilst playing with Tampa Bay. Johnson does have his feet to use as a weapon and has a 2:1 pass to run ratio. If McAdoo has a package specifically for Johnson he could be a dual threat that might cause issues for Defensive Coordinators to plan for.
9. Seattle Seahawks
Current Starting QB – Russell Wilson
New Starter – Trevone Boykin
Boykin is an intriguing prospect. Only in his rookie season, the Seahawks have entrusted him to play quite a lot, featuring in 5 games and throwing 18 passes for 1 TD and 1 INT. Not bad for an undrafted rookie free agent. Posting a QBR of 91.2 and the potential to run, Boykin is similar in style to Wilson and this leaves Carroll with the ability to keep the same style of offence should Wilson tear his ACL.
8. Oakland Raiders
Current Starting QB – Matt McGloin/Derek Carr (injured)
New Starter – Connor Cook
As I write this, Cook is about to start his 1st career game. A highly rated 4th round pick in 2016 that Oakland traded up for. His 1st appearance in Week 17 wasn’t a complete disaster. Even though the Raiders failed to score a touchdown, they faced the vaunted Broncos defence who could smell blood. In 3 hours time this could prove to be too high a ranking. Cook has weapons around him in Cooper and Crabtree. Washington and Murray could be his best friends via the running game by the end of the night. Time will tell.
7. Green Bay Packers
Current Starting QB – Aaron Rogers
New Starter – Brett Hundley
Hundley has seen very little game time action since being drafted in the 5th round in 2015. He has been impressive in the preseason and his college numbers for UCLA were very impressive. In 3 years he posted an average QBR of 150.1 and rushed for 30 TD’s. One of the key things to take into account is the Packers’ success in breeding Quarterbacks for their system. Everybody knows about Favre and Rodgers, but when backups like Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien had to play they did so quite admirably. The Packers felt confident enough in Hundley this offseason to let Tolzien walk.
6. Miami Dolphins
Current Starting QB – Matt Moore/Ryan Tannehill (injured)
New Starter – TJ Yates
For a guy that hasn’t been a named starter for any extended period over his 6-year career, he has quite a lot of games under his belt – 18 in total. Yates has played most of his career in the anaemic Houston Texans offence. Whilst he has relatively poor numbers (career QBR of 72.8) he has had success in the playoffs beating the Bengals 31-10 in 2011 in his rookie year. A black mark against him however is that he was only signed in December so hasn’t had a lot of time in the Dolphins system.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
Current Starting QB – Ben Roethlisberger
New Starter – Landry Jones
A 4th round pick by the Steelers in 2013, Jones has seen a decent amount of game time and has proven that he can manage a game. Jones is the quintessential veteran backup in the NFL. He has a low ceiling but a high floor. Jones’ numbers have improved gradually since 2015 and due to Ben Roethlisberger’s penchant for missing a few games each year, he gets a chance to play quite a bit and build a relationship with his receivers who just happen to be some of the best in the league.
4. Atlanta Falcons
Current Starting QB – Matt Ryan
New Starter – Matt Schaub
If the year were 2012 instead of 2017, Schaub would top this list, as he would have just been coming off his second Pro Bowl season. The fact of the matter is its 2017 and the 35 year old has had a few injuries which have affected his arm strength and mobility. He was supposed to start for the Raiders in 2014 after they traded for him, but he lost the starting job to rookie Derek Carr. What Schaub does have in his arsenal is his intangibles. A top 20 Quarterback in the NFL for 6 years he has the weapons around him in Jones, Sanu, Freeman and Coleman to be successful should Ryan receive a nasty surprise.
3. New England Patriots
Current Starting QB – Tom Brady
New Starter – Jimmy Garoppolo
In Garoppolo and Brissett the Patriots have 2 backup Quarterbacks that have won a game his season. Garoppolo is likely to be highly sought after this offseason via a trade as his contract runs out at the end of the 2017 season. His play in preseason was good, but his play in the regular season (albeit for only 1 and a half games) was fantastic. He threw for 4 TD’s, 0 INT’s, and a QBR of 123.5. Garoppolo probably has the highest ceiling of any player on this list but might not quite be at the level of those in the number 1 and 2 spot yet.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Current Starting QB – Alex Smith
New Starter – Nick Foles
With the way the Rams’ offense has been run in the last few years under Jeff Fisher, I think it is now becoming clear that the 2015 season for Nick Foles was an aberration. If you remove the Rams season, he has a career QBR of 96.4. When Alex Smith got concussed this year, Andy Reid operated the offence in the exact same way with Foles under centre. He threw 16/22 completions with 223 yards and two touchdowns against the Colts. He might never rediscover his 2013 season form where he threw 27 TD’s and only 2 INT’s but he looks a lot better than the 2015 version.
1. Dallas Cowboys
Current Starting QB – Dak Prescott
New Starter – Tony Romo
Say what you want about Tony Romo, but on almost any other team he would be starting. The fact of the matter is that Prescott has been outstanding and has earned his starting role this year despite only being a rookie. Whilst Romo is known for his playoff frailties, if he was to regain his starting spot tomorrow he would automatically be a top 15 Quarterback. This is a system that Romo is entrenched in, one that was built around him and one could argue that the Cowboys would be better off with his experienced head under centre going into the playoffs. Prescott would be my choice but it just emphasises Romo’s rightful position atop this list that there still are some voices clamouring for him despite the fact that Prescott is having an MVP-calibre year.