I’ll admit I am a diehard NFL fan. I love everything about the sport. I love the chess matches the head coaches play against one another week in and week out. I love the battle in the trenches between the defensive lineman and offensive lineman after every snap. I love the reads quarterbacks make before the ball is snapped, and seeing that read come to play after the ball is snapped for a big play, because I love the big play. But not more than I love the big hit, although the NFL has put many restrictions on players getting hit, which is fair because the safety of the players does come first, but no matter what they try to do, there will always be the big hits. I also love watching a good game; I try not to be a fan of any team because it takes away from watching the game of football when you’re rooting for an opposing team to play bad. So I try to be neutral, unless I’m playing against a player in fantasy football than that kind of changes the dynamics. But other than that, I am neutral.
So with that said, one thing that really gets on my nerves is when I watch a NFL team get beat up on by another NFL team. I put emphasis on NFL because every player in the National Football League is considered to be a professional football player. It is their job to go out there and perform to the best of their abilities. Now I understand that sometime teams just happen to have the upper hand on the opposing team, or teams just come out and play sloppy for a game or two, it happens. No one is perfect, except the 72’ Dolphins, but that’s the only exception. But what bothers me is when teams can actually control this beating that is being put on them and still don’t learn from this mistake. This mistake I am talking about is not having a legitimate starting backup quarterback. This problem that almost half of the teams in the NFL face has driven me into becoming a GM of a NFL team once I graduate. Now all I need to do is own a couple businesses that make the Forbes top 100 list and I am on my way.
But seriously, hasn’t anyone been paying attention to what has happened to teams that have witnessed their starter qb go down the past few years? Not just any teams, but playoff contending teams. Last year the defending AFC South champion Indianapolis Colts saw their Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning not take a snap for their team in 2011 because of neck problems. The Colts went 2-14 and were being compared to the 2008 0-16 Lions with how terrible they looked playing the game of football. And just like the 0-16 Lions, they earned a first overall pick the following year, going after no other than a quarterback.
Also Last year Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler broke his thumb on his throwing hand that ended his season. The Bears were 7-3 at the time. Under their backup Caleb Hanie, they lost five straight and looked like the worst offensive team in the league and put themselves out of playoff contention. They finished the year 8-8.
So you would think the Bears would learn from their mistake from last year right? Wrong. They signed quarterback Jason Campbell to backup Cutler this year just in case an injury was to occur to Cutler. Well on week 10 Cutler suffered a concussion that put him out the game, so in goes Campbell and out goes any chance of scoring for the Bears. The following week Campbell started again for Cutler and the team looked like a 2-7 team rather than the 7-2 team that they were.
Same goes for the Pittsburg Steelers, who loss starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger with a shoulder/rib injury in a week ten win against the Chiefs. At the moment Pittsburg was riding a four game winning streak and looked like a super bowl contending team that had a 6-3 record. Well in comes back up Byron Leftwich, who I thought did a decent job, until he got hurt that same week he started against Rival Baltimore that ended in a loss. The following week third string quarterback Charlie Batch got the nod against a 2-8 Cleveland Browns team. After 8 turnovers and seven pints on the board by the offense, the Steelers loss to the Browns and found themselves with a 6-5 record and tied with the Bengals for the last wild card spot in the AFC.
But these Bears and the Steelers are not the only two teams that I believe would have a below average team if their starting quarterback were to miss time due to an injury. The Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, and the Baltimore Ravens also have backups on their team that I believe won’t be able to handle the pressure if their name was called. This is not including teams like Denver that has a rookie backing Peyton Manning up with no experience. Or the defending super bowl champions New York Giants who got a guy that goes by the name of David Carr who has only played in two games in the past three years backing up Eli Manning.
Now I am not saying every team needs to have a Matt Cassel, a Matt Flynn, a Matt Schaub, or a Matt Hasselbeck backing up their starter (all were former backups then started or currently backups for their squad). But at least have a legitimate person leading your team that can also throw the ball just in case your FRANCHISE player was to go down. I define a legitimate backup by having game experience, maybe if you’re lucky playoff experience, or being a young first, second, or third year player that you have in your system for his potential and to learn from the guy who is in front. Every team should have a backup quarterback who can run the offense with not many setbacks to your scheme or game plan. We all understand he may be your backup, but that should not stop a playoff contending team to continue to compete at a high level.
A great example of this happened last year for the Houston Texans. Starting quarterback Matt Schaub was injured after a week ten game versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The injury to his foot ended the season for Schaub, as the Texans were 7-3 at the time. So in comes backup quarterback Matt Leinart, who got knocked out with a shoulder injury the same week he started for the Texans that ended his season. So in comes third string quarterback T.J. Yates. Yates ended up finishing that Jacksonville game with a win and later starting the next four games for the Texans and went 2-2 in that span, clinching the first division title in the team’s history. He then started their first playoff game in team history against fellow rookie Andy Dalton, beating the Bengals in a score of 31-10, becoming the 5th rookie quarterback to ever win a playoff game. Now I am not saying Yates took this team as far as they went, but he did his job and understood that the team was built around Arian Foster. He wasn’t asked to complete make 50 passes a game and complete 30 of them, that’s not what the Texans offense was about. He just made the plays a quarterback in the NFL is expected to make, and that’s all.
So all in all, when draft time comes around or even free agency, instead of teams bulking up at their skill positions or defensive back positions or even lineman, people’s first priority should be making sure they have a guy who doesn’t look like a chicken with his head cut off backing up the guy who is considered the franchise of your team. He is labeled your franchise for a reason, so if he goes down, your whole team goes down. It’s not fair to say one player is most important on a team that has eleven players playing on the field at one time, but the facts tell it all. And another quick note, if you are looking for a backup, go after a guy who’s first name is Matt, seems like all good backups are once were backups and now are starters have that first name.