AFC East: 2012 backup quarterback

Dolphins: Backup QB plan

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
12:00
PM ET
NFC Backup QBs: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Assessing the Dolphins’ backup QB situation if the starter is injured and misses time.

This is where things get tricky. The Miami Dolphins are the only AFC East team with an open quarterback competition. Matt Moore is the incumbent and probably a slight favorite. But some feel veteran David Garrard may have an inside track, because he’s more experienced and has played in a West Coast offense before.

Garrard has playoff experience and three times as many career wins (39) than Moore (13). Rookie first-round pick Ryan Tannehill also will be thrown into the mix but is a long shot. There is good and bad to this situation. The bad is obviously Miami does not know its leader on offense. The good is the Dolphins are deep at quarterback, which is the most important position in the NFL.

Moore and Garrard have different strengths and weaknesses, but overall they are both pretty equal and interchangeable. If Moore or Garrard goes down as the starter, there shouldn't be much drop-off to the No. 2 quarterback.

Confidence rating (out of 100) if Miami's starter goes out for an extended period: 80.

Patriots: Backup QB plan

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
11:00
AM ET
NFC Backup QBs: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Assessing the Patriots' backup QB situation if Tom Brady is injured and misses time.

Brady gets kudos for a lot of things. But one area Brady doesn't get much credit for is his durability. Brady hasn't missed a start in the past decade, with the exception of 2008 when he tore up his knee in the season opener. Brady, 34, stays in tremendous shape, and it's a major reason why we have little knowledge of New England's backups.

The biggest concern with New England's quarterbacks is that Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett have zero career starts combined. They are unknowns. The most we have learned from these two comes from preseason football (Mallett) and a few passes mostly in relief at the end of blowouts (Hoyer).

The Patriots did well and won 11 games when Brady went down in 2008. Former Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel did a good job managing the game, and New England had a top-10 defense. But this Patriots defense, which ranked 31st last season, has a long way to go to take over and win games without Brady. It is much weaker now and would put a ton of pressure on Hoyer or Mallett to put up numbers.

Confidence rating (out of 100) if Brady is out for extended period: 61.

Bills: Backup QB plan

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
10:00
AM ET
NFC Backup QBs: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Assessing the Bills' backup QB situation if Ryan Fitzpatrick is injured and misses time.

Buffalo feels the team is in position to make a playoff push in 2012 following a flurry of solid offseason moves. That is the primary reason the Bills signed veteran quarterback and former first-round pick Vince Young this offseason to play behind Fitzpatrick.

Young has a solid 31-19 career record as a starter. Young is not a conventional quarterback -- he has more career interceptions (51) than touchdowns (46) -- but he knows how to win games with his athleticism and mobility. Fitzpatrick played much of the second half of last season with injured ribs. He lost eight of his last nine starts in the process. A player like Young would have been a good option to play for a few weeks while Fitzpatrick healed. Buffalo now has that kind of protection.

Confidence rating (out of 100) if Fitzpatrick is out for extended period: 70.

Jets: Backup QB plan

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
9:00
AM ET
NFC Backup QBs: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Assessing the Jets’ backup QB situation if Mark Sanchez is injured and misses time.

This is one of the most publicized quarterback situations in the NFL. Sanchez is the clear No. 1, but he will be pushed by the popular Tim Tebow throughout the season. Tebow might get a chance this season via injury or poor performance by Sanchez. Or the better alternative is the increase in competition could bring out the best in Sanchez, who is just 25 and entering his fourth season.

But if Sanchez goes down, Tebow has proven he can win at the NFL level. Last season he took over the struggling Denver Broncos, and they won the AFC West with a 7-4 record in his 11 starts. Tebow also beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in a playoff game to get Denver to the divisional round. I think Tebow could be a solid fill-in for the short term. If Sanchez is hurt and Tebow needs to win two or three games, the Jets should be confident Tebow can do the job. But if Tebow replaces Sanchez for much longer, it could be bad news for the Jets. Tebow is not a franchise starting quarterback who you want running the show for an entire season.

Confidence rating (out of 100) if Sanchez is out for an extended period: 68.

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