NFL Nation: 2012 backup quarterback NFC

Rams: Backup QB plan

June, 5, 2012
6/05/12
1:18
PM 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 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 extended period: 25.

Cowboys: 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 Dallas Cowboys' backup quarterback situation if Tony Romo is injured and misses time.

The Cowboys don't mess around when it comes to their backup quarterback situation. The way Jon Kitna continued to run the offense in the second half of 2010 after Romo was injured proved to them the worth of a capable veteran backup. So when Kitna retired at the end of the 2011 season, one of the Cowboys' first free-agent priorities was signing Kyle Orton to a three-year, $10.5 million contract. An expensive insurance policy to say the least, but Orton has started 69 NFL games over the past seven years and is 35-34 in them. He averaged 3,476 yards, 20 touchdowns and 11 interceptions from 2008-10 and is as accomplished as any backup quarterback in the league. The Cowboys feel it would be no problem for him to find a way to get the ball to Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten if he had to.

Confidence rating (out of 100) if Romo goes out for an extended period: 85.

Vikings: 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 Minnesota Vikings' backup QB situation if Christian Ponder is injured and misses time.

Sage Rosenfels might be the No. 2 quarterback for Minnesota right now, but Joe Webb is far more intriguing. That being said, Ponder needs to be the guy Minnesota builds its team around, and I believe Ponder is the right guy for the job. If Ponder were to go down though, and the Vikings were in contention, I bet Rosenfels would take over with Webb being used as a specialty player here and there. Although very mistake-prone, Rosenfels is better equipped to lead an offense than Webb due to his league experience. Rosenfels’ squads have won six of the 12 games he has started in the NFL. But if Ponder were to completely flop or get hurt when the Vikings were out of contention, putting Webb behind center and giving this playmaker a ton of snaps would be prudent. Webb is very difficult for opposing defenses to prepare for because he has a huge arm and wide receiver-like athletic ability. Webb has made plays consistently when given the chance, but has started only two games.

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

Falcons: 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 Falcons’ backup QB situation if Matt Ryan is injured and misses time.

The Falcons are very content with Chris Redman as their backup. His veteran presence and willingness to serve as a mentor has aided in Matt Ryan’s development from the start. Although Redman has played only sparingly in the Ryan years, he’s taken thousands of practice snaps and sat through countless meetings. He knows the offense as well as Ryan and has the respect of his teammates. If Ryan were to go down with a short-term injury, the Falcons firmly believe Redman could do a nice job of finishing a game or even starting a few games. He’d be surrounded by a star-studded cast at the skill positions, so there isn’t likely to be a huge drop off. But, if Ryan were to suffer a long-term injury, that could cause some problems. Although he came into the league in 2000, Redman has made only two career starts. Redman can’t make all the throws Ryan can, so the Falcons would have to scale back their offense if Redman has to play more than a few games.

Confidence rating (out of 100) if Ryan goes out for an extended period: 75

Packers: 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 Green Bay Packers' backup QB situation if Aaron Rodgers is injured and misses time.

Green Bay has Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman behind Rodgers. That is a far cry from having Matt Flynn and frankly, they should be keeping their eyes open for another option before training camp starts. Of course, neither of these guys is anywhere near Rodgers’ class, but the drop-off in Green Bay is about as drastic as with any team in the league. While I am not a fan of Harrell, who has yet to start an NFL game and has underwhelming tools, I do applaud the late-round draft choice of Coleman. Coleman very well could develop into a high-end No. 2 quarterback. Even though he's making a very difficult transition to the NFL from a small college, Coleman certainly could pass Harrell on Green Bay’s depth chart. But for now, the cupboard behind the league’s best player is quite bare. Clearly the best thing Green Bay does is throw the football. That would be compromised a great deal without Rodgers. The Packers have more weapons than they know what to do with, but just one quarterback.

Confidence rating (out of 100) if Rodgers is out for an extended period: 10.

Lions: 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 Detroit Lions' backup QB situation if Matthew Stafford is injured and misses time.

Shaun Hill is one of the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL and Detroit obviously is very aware of Stafford’s injury history. Even though Stafford just completed the first 16-game season of his career, having a strong backup quarterback is imperative for this up-and-coming organization, and it does. Hill is nowhere near as physically gifted as Stafford, but his teammates respond to him and he consistently moves the offense. In Hill’s 26 starts, his team has won half of those games. He doesn’t possess a big arm, but he's aggressive and will not hesitate to go downfield, especially with the Lions’ receiving corps. Detroit’s fantastic passing attack would remain formidable with Hill behind center, but surely the Lions would increase the percentage in which they run the football.

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

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 even in 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 extended period: 60.

Bears: 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 Chicago Bears' backup QB situation if Jay Cutler is injured and misses time.

With the beating that Cutler has taken in a Bears uniform and the present state of their offensive line, I commend Chicago for adding Jason Campbell to the mix as one of the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL. Campbell has bounced around the league quite a bit thus far, and there could be an argument that he was never truly given a legitimate chance to thrive in one system. But Campbell plays the game slower than needed to be a true starter. He has a big arm and is a strong deep passer, which works well with the Bears’ now-bigger wide receivers. Campbell has started 70 games in the NFL, with his team winning 31 of them. The Bears also have the veteran Josh McCown and youngster Nathan Enderle, who could be the odd man out since both Campbell and McCown both have starting experience. McCown has 33 starts at this level.

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

Saints: Backup QB plan

June, 5, 2012
6/05/12
11:23
AM ET
NFC Backup QBs: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Assessing the Saints’ backup QB situation if Drew Brees is injured and misses time.

Assuming Brees’ contract situation gets resolved, Chase Daniel will step into the backup role. If there’s been one silver lining to a very difficult offseason for the Saints, it’s that Daniel has had a chance to get first-team reps in the offseason program. That’s great experience for a guy who has attempted only eight passes in three NFL seasons. Teammates and coaches say they’ve been impressed with how Daniel has handled the offense. Like Brees, he is undersized, but the Saints must like something about him because they’ve kept him around. The increased practice time can only make the Saints feel more comfortable about Daniel if he has to play. The Saints have a great supporting cast on offense, so Daniel could have some success if he is forced into action.

Confidence rating (out of 100) if Brees goes out for an extended period: 65

Giants: Backup QB plan

June, 5, 2012
6/05/12
11:20
AM ET
NFC Backup QBs: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Assessing the New York Giants' backup quarterback situation if Eli Manning is injured and misses time.

The Giants' backup quarterback plan seems largely irrelevant because Manning has started 130 consecutive games (counting postseason) and has proven to be the most durable starting quarterback in the league. Should the unthinkable happen, the best thing the Giants could say about it is that they'd be replacing one former No. 1 overall draft pick with another. David Carr, who was drafted first overall by the Houston Texans in 2002, was 22-53 as the starter for the expansion Texans from 2002-06 and 1-3 in a brief stint as the Carolina Panthers' starter in 2007. He hasn't started a game since 2007 and has attempted only 58 passes (35 complete, three for touchdowns, one intercepted) over the past four seasons. He was Manning's backup in 2008, 2009 and 2011, so he knows the offense and the receivers. But a prolonged injury to Manning would be the worst conceivable circumstance for the defending Super Bowl champs.

Confidence rating (out of 100) if Manning goes out for extended period: 43.

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 extended period: 60.

Eagles: Backup QB plan

June, 5, 2012
6/05/12
10:40
AM ET
NFC Backup QBs: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Assessing the Philadelphia Eagles' backup quarterback situation if Michael Vick is injured and misses time.

This may well be the most important backup quarterback situation in the league, because Vick's history clearly indicates that he almost certainly will miss at least one game because of injury. Strangely, however, the Eagles do not seem to have backed him up very well. The veteran in the mix is Trent Edwards, who is 14-19 in his career as an NFL starter but was out of the league last year. The Eagles tried him out, liked the way he looked running drills in their West Coast offense, and will bring him to camp. Mike Kafka, the Eagles' fourth-round pick from the 2010 draft, has never started an NFL game. He was 11-for-16 with two interceptions in relief of Vick last year, and those are his career numbers as well. He's in his third year with Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg, so at this point he has either learned the offense enough to be a capable backup or he'll be sent on his way in the preseason. Nick Foles was the Eagles' third-round pick this year and likely needs time before he can be relied on to step in and start. It's likely that Foles and either Edwards or Kafka will be on the roster with Vick once the season starts, but it's hard to feel good about either one of them playing.

Confidence rating (out of 100) if Vick is out for an extended period: 39.

Panthers: Backup QB plan

June, 5, 2012
6/05/12
10:11
AM ET
NFC Backup QBs: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Assessing the Panthers’ backup QB situation if Cam Newton is injured and misses time.

Veteran Derek Anderson was the backup last year, but he’ll have to go to training camp and again beat out Jimmy Clausen as the backup. The word out of Charlotte is that Clausen has looked good in the offseason program. Perhaps being the third-team quarterback and not playing gave Clausen time to regain his confidence after being forced to start on a bad team as a rookie in 2010. Coach Ron Rivera has been talking Clausen up and general manager Marty Hurney is the guy who drafted him in the first place. They’d like to see Clausen do well. But it still might be difficult for Clausen to move ahead of Anderson, who has 43 career starts. Anderson has deep ties to offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski. The two were in Cleveland together. During that span, Anderson had the best season of his career in 2007, throwing for just under 4,000 yards in 15 starts.

Confidence rating (out of 100) if Newton goes out for an extended period: 70

Redskins: Backup QB plan

June, 5, 2012
6/05/12
10:00
AM ET
NFC Backup QBs: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Assessing the Washington Redskins' backup quarterback situation if Robert Griffin III is injured and misses time.

The Redskins' backup quarterback right now is Rex Grossman, who was their starter last season, and is 27-24 as an NFL starter, postseason included. Grossman's best season was of course the year he quarterbacked the 13-3 Chicago Bears into the Super Bowl, but even that season he threw 20 interceptions to go with his 23 touchdowns. He threw 20 more interceptions in 13 games as the Redskins' starter in 2011, and in his career he has thrown 60 against only 56 touchdown passes. The good thing about Grossman, from the Redskins' standpoint, is that he knows the offense extremely well and operated it productively last season in between all of those interceptions. He should be able to help Griffin get a handle on the terminology and tutor him on game situations. The Redskins drafted Kirk Cousins in the fourth round this year thinking he could develop behind Griffin and Grossman, and eventually be a valuable backup or trade chip. But as of now, if Griffin went down, the turnover-prone Grossman would be the one to replace him. Again, at least Grossman knows the offense.

Confidence rating (out of 100) if Griffin goes out for extended period: 63.

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 seasons. 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 extended period: 35.

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