NFL teams have a winning record when playing their backup QBs this year

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It’s a common refrain from NFL fans: If we lose our starting quarterback, we’re screwed.

But that isn’t the case, at all. In fact, NFL teams actually have a winning record this season when forced to go to a backup because of an injury to their starter.

So far this season, 35 games have been started by a backup quarterback. Teams are 20-15 in those games.

Saints backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater led the way by going 5-0 in the games Drew Brees missed with a thumb injury. Panthers backup quarterback Kyle Allen has gone 5-1 so far filling in for the injured Cam Newton.

The Jaguars went 4-4 in games Gardner Minshew started, although they’re going back to Nick Foles now that he’s healthy again.

The Steelers have managed to go 3-2 with Mason Rudolph after Ben Roethlisberger was lost for the season, and they even managed to go 1-0 with third-stringer Devlin Hodges when Rudolph missed a game.

The Broncos are 1-0 with Brandon Allen in place of the injured Joe Flacco, and the Chiefs went 1-1 with Matt Moore while Patrick Mahomes was out.

Even when teams lose with their backup, it’s not necessarily because the starting quarterback is out. Although they went 0-1 without Matt Ryan, the Falcons’ offense looked surprisingly effective when Matt Schaub started the week Ryan missed.

There have, of course, been some offenses that looked like garbage with their backups. That group of teams is led by the Jets, who went 0-2 with Luke Falk and 0-1 with Trevor Siemian. Also included in that category is Washington, which went 0-1 with both Dwayne Haskins and Colt McCoy, and Chicago, which went 0-1 with Chase Daniel. But those offenses all look bad with their starting quarterbacks, too.

Overall this season, the results of quarterback injuries have been surprising: Teams that lost good quarterbacks saw backups play well enough to win in their place. Most of the teams whose offenses struggled with their backup quarterbacks have offenses that struggle with their starters, too.

35 responses to “NFL teams have a winning record when playing their backup QBs this year

  1. As a man of science, it’s obvious to me that we need to make it open season on quarterbacks again.

  2. Why would anyone be surprised about this. They’ve dumbed down the game so much and over protect the quarterback.

  3. Back ups have better records than starters and franchise quarter backs, high drafted first round picks are often a bust when it comes to QBs….your odds are better with 2 or 3 2nd and 3rd rounders

  4. If there is little drop off then these QBs shouldnt draw mega buck contracts that cripple rosters.

  5. It goes back to the old saying. QBs get more credit than they deserve when they win, and more blame than they deserve when they lose. Teams like the Saints Panthers Chiefs have great offenses/coaching outside of the QB position, which is what allows their “elite” starters to succeed. Every great QB is a “system” QB to some degree because it’s a team game. Flip side like you pointed out. The backups coming in to teams with no talent are likely to simply continue the team struggle. Us as both fans and media have a tendency to boil a game with 53 man rosters and however many coaches down to 1 person is just easier to market, etc. Yes QB is the most important position in sports, but our minds tend to over exaggerate HOW important it is.

  6. The quarterback position has been made into the most overrated position in all of sports. None of them are great without support(good oline and/or running game and/or wr).

  7. Well, that’s a reflection on coaching and the TEAM. Yes the quarterback is the key, but even the starter will struggle if he doesn’t have enough pieces around him or good coaching.

  8. Crazy. Browns might be in this category if Baker was benched for Gilbert. We saw Gilbert make the short passes with very good accuracy in preseason.

  9. All pocket passers who have been hurt, yet I keep hearing from the PFT peanut gallery how Lamar Jackson is going to piterally combust on the field at any random moment. Strange.

  10. Its a team sport.
    Without an elite unit elsewhere these teams aren’t SB contenders.
    But, a solid team can win some games with a back up QB.
    New O and Carolina winning without their starters (because they are elite elsewhere) hides the mediocre results of the other back ups.

    Take the Saints D away and McCafferty and what would be the backups records?

  11. Posts like this are exactly why I am always leery of letdowns! Teams like Baltimore always seem to play down to the competition. If, they go into Cincy and lose, the Patriots game will mean nothing!!!! This is the NFL, backup QB or not, you have to play your best football every week!

  12. There is a lot to be said for having a competent backup QB.

    That’s something the Packers have yet to learn after multiple years in recent history.

    They were lucky with Farve as he never missed a game. With Rodgers, not so much.

  13. …………
    #SithimforStidham says:
    November 9, 2019 at 10:04 am
    I hope Belichick is taking notes
    Yes, the guy knows nothing about coaching. Perhaps you are the next HC.

  14. I’m starting to question the wisdom of paying average and replacement level starting QBs over $25M a year.

  15. whatjusthapped says:

    Just a thought, who is Cousin’s backup in Minnesota? He better get ready if the Vikings plan on making the playoffs.

    I’m not sure the point your trying to make. Cousins is healthy, unlike Rodgers, who has been on the injury report multiple times this year, last year and the year before.

    Hundley, Kizer and Boyle have been the Packers backups the last 3 years. Only one of them has ever won an NFL game – and the Packers let him go in favor of Kizer???

    Boyle, an undrafted free agent in 2018, has zero NFL starts and has only appeared in 1 game and has yet to throw an NFL pass. His lone appearance was against Oakland and consisted of 3 kneel downs.

    Mannion has played in 11 NFL regular season games and started 1. In 2015, in his first ever NFL regular season game, Mannion completed 6 of 7 attempts.

    A blind man could see the difference.

    Most people

  16. and yet, in a year where coaches are doing a excellent job in prepping inexperienced backup QBs who rarely play, Colin Kaepernick can’t even get a job much less a tryout. Fans will say “it’s a team sport” But just know Kaepernick can’t throw enough for a tryout and isn’t worth a shot because he took a knee at the suggestion of an US servicemember.

  17. eddyjf says:
    November 9, 2019 at 10:29 am
    #SithimforStidham says:
    November 9, 2019 at 10:04 am
    I hope Belichick is taking notes


    The guy who had Jimmy G and Jacoby behind Brady on the roster? Pretty sure he’s been taking notes for quite some time. I wish my HC or GM could manage to pull something like that off.

    Losing them was a testament to just how good they are – not that kind of demand for 2 and 3 on the QB depth chart. Or is that what you’re faulting him for? Backups that are too good to be able to afford to keep ’em? Funny criticism regardless.

  18. It’s always been the case that teams do more or less as well with the backup, and even third stringer. Quarterback influence on team success is overrated except for a handful of guys. I’ve been seeing and saying this for years.

  19. All the Steelers’ QB are equally untalented. Only reason they aren’t 0-8 is they played three horrible teams and one mediocre team with a cursed kicker.

  20. Hate to point out the obvious… If every starting QB played every game starting qb’s would be .500…

    Half of them lose every week…

  21. What an enviable position to be in. Awesome franchise QB with Drew Breese at the helm, and Teddy Bridgewater standing strong, and ready at the watch when/if needed. This team has no excuse to not be in the Super Bowl.

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