PART 7 IN A SERIES:
We hear it every year at this time, the backup quarterback is one of the most important positions on the roster. Whether it is or not is a debate for another time, but it’s under the microscope now more than ever as teams try to justify how many resources, or in some cases how few, they’ve committed to the position….and you hear reports of young QB’s who are just “killing it” in their mini-camps.
The position can either be rendered completely irrelevant: Jim Sorgi never getting his uniform dirty in meaningful situations backing up Peyton Manning from 2004 – 2010. Or franchise altering: The Colts never addressing the position appropriately, team goes 2-14 without Manning in 2011, total housecleaning, first pick, Manning moves on, Andrew Luck now in place.
I thought it would be interesting to take a look at every team’s backup situation. These aren’t grades, just an overall look at the total sum of each team’s outlook if their starter were to go down. I’ll consider the immediate situation and the longer-term picture.
I’ll go in order of my NFL Power Rankings 1.0, published May 10th.
Today, the Houston Texans:
Starter: Matt Schaub (8th Year)
Projected Backup: T.J. Yates (2nd Year)
Yates opened the 2011 season as a rookie 3rd string QB. He ended it as the first signal-caller ever to start a playoff game for the Texans. After Schaub and former backup Matt Leinart were lost for the year with injuries, Yates took over in Week 12 as the starter and looked confident and competent running the offense. The team felt good enough about his performance to release Leinart after the season. Yates has good size and a good arm with solid mechanics. He can move around well enough when the pocket breaks down and he’s accurate. He has limited upside, but the Texans seem to have found a quality young backup who can run the team effectively should the oft-injured Schaub go down again.
Verdict: Rock Solid
Projected 3rd QB: John Beck (5th year)
Seems like he’s been around a lot longer than that, doesn’t it? The former 2nd round pick of the Dolphins never really got a fair shot in Miami, never played while in Baltimore, and when he did get a chance in Washington he was mostly terrible. Beck just isn’t very good, and if he doesn’t earn the third spot here he may find other opportunities in the league hard to come by.
Verdict: Uphill Battle To Make Roster
Other Contenders: Case Keenum (Rookie)
Keenum played at the University of Houston for what seemed like 10 years. Actually it was only 6, thanks to a redshirt year and an extra season granted by the NCAA due to injury. While there, all he did was throw for over 19,000 yards and 155 TD’s. His career passer rating was 160.6. So in other words…. he was awesome. But he epitomizes the term “system quarterback.” He’s only 6′ 0″ tall, doesn’t have a very strong arm, needs work on his delivery, and played in a one-read spread system under Kevin Sumlin at Houston. Still, he’s experienced, has a passion for football, and is an impressive young guy. If the Texans carry 3 QB’s, conceivably Keenum could edge out Beck.
Verdict: Practice Squad, Developmental Candidate
Summary: If Schaub were more durable, you could feel extremely good about the depth behind him with the ability Yates showed as a rookie and the experience of Beck. But injuries seem to find Schaub, he’s missed the equivalent of one whole season over the 5 he’s spent in Houston. If he misses time again, how confident do you feel as a Texans fan with Yates as your starter and Beck as your backup? Still, Yates showed he’s capable, and the Texans strong running game can be a backups best friend. They’re in pretty good hands at the QB position.