Quarterbacks run the show in the NFL. Look no further than Thursday's 2021 kickoff: Where would the Cowboys be without Dak Prescott or the Buccaneers without Tom Brady? But injuries happen, as Dallas knows all too well. So with the new season around the corner, it seemed appropriate to review all 32 teams' contingency plans under center.
Which teams have the best backup QBs and, thus, are best prepared for an emergency? Here's how we'd rank the No. 2 signal-callers, from worst to first:
32. Mike White (Jets)
After being replaced as the Cowboys' No. 3, he's been on and off New York's practice squad something like a dozen times.
31. Logan Woodside (Titans)
The best thing he has going for him is a seven-game stint as a mercurial AAF starter.
30. Cooper Rush (Cowboys)
He's learned behind Prescott? There's little else to suggest he can be even an effective spot starter.
29. Tyler Huntley (Ravens)
He's got athleticism and confidence, but there's no indication yet he can weather extended action as a passer.
28. David Blough (Lions)
He's got some starting experience, so there's that.
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27. Josh Rosen (Falcons)
Let's not get carried away with a nice preseason flash. While he has the smarts to slowly rebuild his reputation with a good staff, he's still got to prove he can handle, let alone thrive, amid the rigors of the NFL.
26. P.J. Walker (Panthers)
Aside from his brief XFL stardom, he's been inconsistent. But the athleticism is always apparent.
25. Davis Mills (Texans)
An incredibly raw rookie on a bad team, he at least offers the physical tools to become something down the road.
24. Geno Smith (Seahawks)
He hasn't started more than one game since 2014, but he knows Seattle's system and has been around the game.
23. Brandon Allen (Bengals)
Nothing special, but he proved gutsy, if uneven, in place of the injured Joe Burrow.
22. Blaine Gabbert (Buccaneers)
He's not the battered youngster of his Jacksonville days, but that doesn't mean he can be trusted throwing the ball regularly.
21. Brian Hoyer (Patriots)
Technically, he's not even on the active roster, but with Jarrett Stidham hurt, he's their go-to practice-squad call-up. At 35, he's a middling game manager at best, but that's more than some of these backups can promise.
20. Chase Daniel (Chargers)
He's surprisingly mobile in and around the pocket at 34, but he's never been particularly good when pressed into action. This job should belong to Easton Stick, who brings so much more upside.
19. John Wolford (Rams)
His smaller frame and scrambling style puts him at risk for his own injury, but if Sean McVay likes his spunk, so do we.
18. Jacob Eason (Colts)
A totally untested fourth-rounder, he at least boasts the requisite arm and size to win a few games in Frank Reich's offense.
17. Taylor Heinicke (Washington)
He's got very little actual experience, but his confident postseason emergency start for Alex Smith in 2020 was promising.
16. Joe Flacco (Eagles)
He's almost entirely immobile, but with a solid O-line, he can still rifle it in there. If the circumstances are above-average, he can be serviceable.
15. Colt McCoy (Cardinals)
Arizona would lose every element of electric play-extending ability if McCoy has to replace Kyler Murray, but he's been around the NFL long enough to manage a game or two.
14. Mike Glennon (Giants)
He is what he is: a mediocre pocket passer. But that describes a ton of these guys, and he's started in multiple places.
13. Chad Henne (Chiefs)
At 36, he's not going to wow anyone with anything he does. But as a trusted mentor in Andy Reid's system, he's got the poise and IQ to keep a game in check.
12. C.J. Beathard (Jaguars)
His physical tools are too limited to sustain success, and his Jaguars cast isn't exactly promising, but he's a fighter with solid mechanics.
11. Kellen Mond (Vikings)
Purely an upside play here, he's obviously unproven but has both the arm and legs to keep plays alive.
10. Mason Rudolph (Steelers)
Nothing really pops about his game, but he's slowly improved, offers good size and has more room for growth.
A long and sudden fall for a former second-round standout and full-time starter. Lock's always had the arm and gusto, but his decision-making leaves a lot to be desired.
8. Marcus Mariota (Raiders)
Durability is always a question mark, but at least he gives you dual-threat abilities and starting experience.
7. Jordan Love (Packers)
He's still very much an unknown, but he flashed his first-round arm talent during Aaron Rodgers' brief summer absence. The upside here is far greater than anything you'd get from "safer" options below.
6. Mitchell Trubisky (Bills)
As a starter, he flopped, but that doesn't mean the tools aren't still there. His mobility is a factor, and in Buffalo, with a much-improved staff and supporting cast, he's better set up for success.
5. Taysom Hill (Saints)
He gets criticized for not being a "real" QB, which is fine, but even if he limits your playbook, his versatility raises your floor. In four starts in place of Drew Brees, he went 3-1, completing 72% of his passes with a 98.8 passer rating.
4. Jacoby Brissett (Dolphins)
Who says he won't start in place of Tua Tagovailoa at some point? While he's very conservative and not especially accurate, he still boasts a big arm, decent legs and an ability to start on a moment's notice.
3. Case Keenum (Browns)
He's battle-tested with underrated play-extending ability. In a pinch, he'd easily enable Cleveland to stay in the win column.
2. Justin Fields (Bears)
He may not have experience on his side, and an over-dependence on his athleticism might lead to turnover bouts, especially amid a thin Chicago supporting cast. But his physical tools alone -- prototypical size, elite mobility, charged-up arm -- ensure he'd keep any team competitive. In the Windy City, it's only a matter of time until he replaces Andy Dalton.
1. Trey Lance (49ers)
He has zero NFL experience, but there's a reason the 49ers invested so much in him. What he lacks in passing polish, he more than makes up for with size, touch and dual-threat athleticism. San Francisco could start him in Week 1 and still expect to contend for a playoff spot out of the crowded NFC West. If Jimmy Garoppolo goes down again, they'll be in promising hands.
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