Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

05 Nov 2006

FO on BSMW: Me and the Backup QB

Me and Matt Cassel could become close friends cause we both never see the field and he wants to talk to me.
Jim Sorgi probably doesn't remember Roxy Music in '72, but this week's Boston Sports Media Watch feature takes a look at how rare it is for a backup QB like Cassel or Sorgi (Casorgi? Sorgisel? Thank god they're not getting married) to have to take the reins of their team over.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 05 Nov 2006

12 comments, Last at 09 Nov 2006, 11:45am by dryheat


by Jesse (not verified) :: Sun, 11/05/2006 - 1:47am

The few times I've seen Sorgi play, I've been somewhat impressed. Could he win a big game? Probably not, but he's hardly the worst backup quarterback in the league

by Travis (not verified) :: Sun, 11/05/2006 - 1:55am

Good article, but a few Vinny-related nitpicks.

1. Before his injury in the first game in 1999, Testaverde was the Jets starter for just 13 games in 1998, so I'm not sure if he qualifies. He was with the Browns/Ravens from 1993-1997.

2. He didn't suffer "a catastrophic knee injury." He blew out his Achilles trying to recover a rare Curtis Martin fumble.

3. Mirer was listed as the Jets' third QB for that game. Tom Tupa, the Jets' punter, played the second and third quarters, and far outperformed Mirer (6 for 10, 165 yds, 2 td, 3 sacks for Tupa; 4 for 11, 28 yds, 2 int, 1 sack for Mirer). Mirer couldn't close the game out in the 4th quarter, and the Jets lost on a last-second Vinatieri FG, 30-28.

Sorry, I'm still bitter about how the lack of a competent backup QB doomed that season. That team went 6-2 with Ray Lucas, for God's sake.

by Travis (not verified) :: Sun, 11/05/2006 - 2:39am

A few more questions (sorry):

- Was the injury-prone Don Majkowski not considered a steady enough starter?

Untested Brett Favre replaced him in Week 3 of 1992 after yet another Majkowski injury, and has started every game since.

- Why no Pennington/Bollinger, 2005? Or Warner/Bulger, 2002?

- Rick Mirer was hardly inexperienced, having started 54 games before 1999. He did suck though.

- 1982 is obviously before the creation of the bye week, but Simms/Bruener is included.

by NF (not verified) :: Sun, 11/05/2006 - 3:08am

Bill, you're forgetting that if Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer are the two best QBs drafted since 2003, then Matt Cassel could be the third best.

2: A punter at quarterback? You're kidding, right?

by Bill Barnwell :: Sun, 11/05/2006 - 3:21am

Travis - a lot of good points.

- I should've said "16 game schedule", not "bye week". I've been using the two off and on as my cutoff points for the articles this year and I just transposed them. My bad.

- I probably should have thrown Testaverde out; for some reason, I read him as having played two years with the Jets instead of one. In addition, my memory definitely did not serve me correctly on the nature of the injury. As for Lucas/Mirer, I included it because Lucas got a majority of the PA after the injury.

- Majkowski only played 8 games in 1990 and 1991, which ruled him out.

- Warner was ruled out because of the five games he missed in 2000. Essentially, the search criteria I used to find the first group of players to work with was to find a quarterback who started two consecutive years with 400+ PA or 14+ GP and was then hurt in the third season. Warner played 11 games and threw 347 passes in '00. In hindsight, you could make a pretty good case for including him.

- Pennington doesn't have a single season with 400 PA so far. Which is pretty amazing.

- NF, he could be the best for all you or I know.

by andrew (not verified) :: Sun, 11/05/2006 - 5:54am

What about Jay Schroeder for Joe Theisman?

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Sun, 11/05/2006 - 11:54am

I want to say Steve Bono for the 49ers in 1991, but I guess Steve Young wasn't an entrenched starter at the time, although he'd been groomed for a few years behind Montana.

by Crabbie (not verified) :: Sun, 11/05/2006 - 1:02pm

#4 - Tupa actually came into the league as a quarterback, and was one for about half his career. He switched over to punter the same year the 2 point conversion was introduced, IIRC. It was a pretty brilliant decision for him, and likely extended his career enormously - punters tend to have longez careers than guys who are 3rd string quarterbacks for the Cardinals.

My point is that Tupa had more time in the league as a quarterback than Mirer (if not more actual playing time). Parcells really liked having Tupa in both NE and NYJ, because it allowed him to fill two important but rarely used roster spots (2nd string QB & punter) with one player, and leave the "real" back-up QB inactive as the "emergency" QB.

by jm (not verified) :: Sun, 11/05/2006 - 5:25pm

Backup's just another word for nothing left lose.

by J.D. (not verified) :: Mon, 11/06/2006 - 4:48pm

#9: I appreciate the attempted musical reference, but when talking about football this couldn't be any more wrong. If your memory needs refreshing, look up the winning QBs for Super Bowls 34, 35, and 36- 3 teams in the last 7 years have won the Super Bowl with a backup QB.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 11/06/2006 - 8:16pm

Indy has already been "burned" by the wily vet approach. I thought they were geniuses signing Mark Rypien out of semi-retirement (I think he took a year off to be with a sick child). Seemed like a great move.

The one play Manning has ever missed due to injury, Lorenzo Bromell of Miami hit his jaw with a helmet and broke it shortly before halftime, Rypien came in and threw an INT. A few minutes later the half ended and 20 minutes after that, Manning comes out to play with a wired jaw. No more Ryp.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/09/2006 - 11:45am

#2...I remember that season-opening game well. I was visiting friends and family in Mass, and intentionally missed my flight back home because I refused to leave before the end. I thought I'd get a standby later. I was wrong. Did not make it back in time for work Monday morning. I just remember thinking, well, the Jets without Greenhead are much better than the Patriots without Bledsoe.