Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Backup QB breakdown
By James Walker
Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker
More: Chadiha: The plan | Scouts: Rating QBs | Rank 'em | Clayton: Next Cassel?
Baltimore Ravens: If Joe Flacco is unavailable, the Ravens' situation is better than most NFL teams. The Ravens have a pair of backups with starting experience in Troy Smith and John Beck. The pair has combined for six career starts and were both in consideration as future starters at one point in their careers. Flacco’s rapid development has made Smith a backup in Baltimore. But his athleticism forced the team to put him on the field as the quarterback of Baltimore’s “Suggs package,” which is the team’s version of the Wildcat offense. Beck was picked up by Baltimore this offseason and is more of a conventional pocket passer. He spent time with Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron in Miami and is familiar with the system. Between the two, the Ravens have a decent contingency plan.
Cincinnati Bengals: If Carson Palmer is unavailable, Cincinnati's situation is not good at quarterback. Palmer is Cincinnati’s most important player. And although J.T. O’Sullivan appears to be an upgrade over last year’s backup quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Bengals are going nowhere without Palmer. O’Sullivan has been a pleasant surprise in the preseason, but certainly not enough to think he could lead the Bengals long term. Younger brother Jordan Palmer is the No. 3 quarterback but has struggled in his few opportunities at the next level. If the Bengals are going to do anything this season, the older Palmer is obviously the glue that holds the entire franchise together.
Cleveland Browns: If the Browns' starting quarterback is unavailable, their situation is still solid. Cleveland’s is one of the few teams in the NFL which has two young, starting-caliber quarterbacks in Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson. Based on preseason performance, Quinn is expected to be the starter Sept. 13 against the Minnesota Vikings, but the two remain in an open competition under new Browns coach Eric Mangini. Both quarterbacks have different playing styles. Anderson is more of a vertical threat but also more prone to turnovers, while Quinn is a solid game manager who is cerebral. Mangini eventually will choose one quarterback, but he still has to feel good about his No. 2.
Pittsburgh Steelers: If Ben Roethlisberger is unavailable, their situation is not bad for the short term. With the NFL’s top-rated defense and experienced veteran quarterback Charlie Batch in the fold, the Steelers are built to win a few games without Roethlisberger. But like most teams, if Pittsburgh loses Roethlisberger for a long period of time, the Steelers have very little chance to repeat as Super Bowl champions. With a struggling offensive line, Roethlisberger is prone to taking tough shots, but for the most part he’s been able to play through injuries. Batch has started 50 games in his career and is followed by second-year player Dennis Dixon, who has some athleticism but is still considered a raw talent.