Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Backup QB breakdown
By Kevin Seifert
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
More: Chadiha: The plan | Scouts: Rating QBs | Rank 'em | Clayton: Next Cassel?
As part of a larger ESPN.com effort examining backup quarterbacks, we take a look at the four NFC North teams:
If Jay Cutler is unavailable, the Bears' situation is a big question mark.
Backup Caleb Hanie, signed last year as an undrafted free agent, has proved to be a mobile and exciting playmaker during garbage time over the past two preseasons. Coach Lovie Smith loves his moxie, respects his instincts and trusts that Hanie will develop into a solid NFL quarterback. But has Hanie developed his passing skills enough to run an NFL offense? Realistically, no one knows.
If the Lions' starter is unavailable, their situation will not change dramatically.
Daunte Culpepper and Matthew Stafford have been close in their summer competition, and both could run the offense in a similar fashion. Unless something changes in the next few days, the Lions will have to split hairs to determine who wins the job. (Culpepper's toe injury might be what puts Stafford over the top.) The precipice might not be high, but the dropoff wouldn't be noticeable whether Culpepper or Stafford is the backup.
Green Bay Packers
If Aaron Rodgers is unavailable, Green Bay's situation is dire.
Backup Matt Flynn has been limited by a shoulder injury during the preseason and No. 3 quarterback Brian Brohm has struggled for most of the summer. When he was healthy, Flynn was the primary backup only because Brohm has been a bust to this point. The Packers would have to make significant changes to their offense should Flynn or Brohm be forced to play for an extended period of time.
If Brett Favre is unavailable, Minnesota's situation is enviable.
Favre's arrival pushed the quarterback situation to a position of strength. Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson might not have been starter material, but they are more than competent backups who know the offense and would be able to run the team. Rosenfels has been especially effective in that role during his career. The Vikings might try to trade Jackson or Rosenfels, but even if they do, they'll be left with reliable depth.