NFC West: 2012 backup quarterback

The recent items on backup quarterback situations carried confidence ratings on a 100-point scale.

I made these ratings for the NFC West teams without knowing how our other divisional bloggers would rate situations in their divisions. The ratings in the chart below would be different, in other words, if only one of us were providing them for all teams.

It was interesting to see the AFC West's Bill Williamson give the Chargers' Charlie Whitehurst a lower confidence rating than any of the ratings I provided for NFC West teams. That seems right. To be consistent with my relatively low rating for San Francisco, I would have ranked the backup situation in New England lower than James Walker did based on the Patriots' lack of experience behind Tom Brady. But my thinking on that isn't firm.

On with the chart ...

Seahawks: Backup QB plan

June, 5, 2012
6/05/12
12:00
PM ET
» NFC Backup QBs: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Assessing the Seahawks' backup QB situation if Matt Flynn, Russell Wilson or Tarvaris Jackson is injured and misses time.

The Seahawks won't know their backup situation until they settle on a starter.

Flynn passed for 731 yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions in his two career starts, both with Green Bay. He's the projected favorite to start for the Seahawks. It's likely a bad thing in the big picture if Flynn fails to win the starting job this season, but the backup quarterback situation would improve under such a scenario.

Jackson was 7-7 as the Seahawks' starter last season despite playing through a torn pectoral muscle. He has a 17-17 career record as a starter. Those numbers should be comforting if Jackson is the backup.

Wilson has a strong arm, has shown instant command of the offense and possesses ample intangibles. He has never played in even an NFL exhibition setting, however, so it's premature to say he's ready for the backup role.

Like the Cardinals, the Seahawks will take a potential starter into the regular season as a backup. They could do worse and did last season.

Confidence rating (out of 100) if the starter is out for an extended period: 60.

Cardinals: Backup QB plan

June, 5, 2012
6/05/12
11:00
AM ET
» NFC Backup QBs: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Assessing the Cardinals' backup QB situation if Kevin Kolb or John Skelton is injured and misses time.

Kevin Kolb and John Skelton haven't shown quite enough for the Cardinals to install one of them as the starting quarterback just yet.

Any team would be happy to have them as backups.

Skelton owns a 7-4 record as a starter, compared with 6-10 for Kolb. Skelton is more durable. He has shown greater resourcefulness in fourth quarters, helping the Cardinals to five fourth-quarter comeback victories.

The backup plan arguably looks better if Kolb wins the starting job.

Skelton and Kolb each own five career games with at least 270 yards passing. Skelton passed for 282 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in coming off the bench to help the Cardinals to an upset victory over San Francisco last season. He made key plays by air and ground during a Week 17 victory over Seattle, completing third-down passes for 26, 26, 22 and 18 yards.

Skelton has done more to earn the team's confidence as a backup and possibly even as a starter. The Cardinals can feel relatively good about their backup QB plan either way.

Confidence rating (out of 100) if Kolb or Skelton is out for an extended period: 60.

Rams: Backup QB plan

June, 5, 2012
6/05/12
10:15
AM ET
» NFC Backup QBs: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Assessing the Rams' backup QB situation if Sam Bradford is injured and misses time.

The Rams have bet bigger on their starting quarterback than any other team in the NFC West, committing $50 million in guarantees to Bradford as the first overall choice of the 2010 draft. Their 2012 season would lose purpose if a serious injury forced the Rams in another direction at the position.

Backup Kellen Clemens played for new Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer when both were with the New York Jets. Clemens' familiarity with the offense gives him an edge. But with a 4-8 starting record and a 7-12 career ratio of touchdowns to interceptions, the Jets' 2006 second-round choice projects as a backup.

Clemens did leave a generally positive impression while leading the Rams to a near-upset of the San Francisco 49ers in Week 17 last season. He scrambled 18 yards for one touchdown and found Brandon Lloyd for a late 36-yard scoring pass.

The Rams also signed Tom Brandstater and rookie free agent Austin Davis.

Confidence rating (out of 100) if Bradford is out for an extended period: 25.

49ers: Backup QB plan

June, 5, 2012
6/05/12
9:30
AM ET
» NFC Backup QBs: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Assessing the 49ers' backup QB situation if Alex Smith is injured and misses time.

The 49ers are grooming second-year backup Colin Kaepernick for a potential starting role in the next couple of years, but Smith provides the safest option for the team to contend again in 2012. The 49ers have gone 17-6 in Smith's past 23 starts dating to the 2010 season and counting playoffs. While it's doubtful Smith will limit turnovers as effectively as he has recently, he would have a better chance than a less-experienced quarterback.

Kaepernick has yet to start in the exhibition or regular season. He had zero touchdowns and five interceptions during his lockout-affected crash course of a preseason. Kaepernick attempted five passes during the regular season. His athleticism would add excitement. Coach Jim Harbaugh liked Kaepernick enough to trade up for him in the draft. We simply haven't seen enough from Kaepernick to feel comfortable about his readiness right now.

Free-agent addition Josh Johnson played for Harbaugh at the University of San Diego. His familiarity with the offense would help. But Johnson also had an 0-5 starting record with Tampa Bay, leaving him much to prove.

Confidence rating (out of 100) if Smith is out for an extended period: 35.

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