Backup QB takeover 2019: Ranking the seven slated to start, plus four more inevitable QB changes and three wild cards

Welcome to the season of the backup quarterback. Are you not entertained?

Seriously, this is getting crazy, and we've only just begun. We are 1/8th through the regular season and yet, dating back to the middle of the preseason, nearly 1/4th of the starting QBs in the NFL are already on the shelf. Some are retired (Andrew Luck), some are benched en route to retirement (Eli Manning), and, sadly, far too many are injured for the short or long term.

It's been that kind of a year and we've only just begun. Which begs the questions: Where do we go from here? And which of these teams, and passers, are up to the task? And whom else should be looking over his shoulder? And, of course, I have answers.

The crazy thing is that seven teams are already set to utilize a quarterback in Week 3 other than the man we all expected to be starting in this spot dating back to July. And, I strongly suspect, at least seven more backups end up starting games before all is said and done with the 2019 season.

With that in mind, I figured it apropos to give my confidence meter on the quarterbacks already thrust into duty, while also breaking down the other quarter of the league where I anticipate a changing of the guard to take place for one reason or the other. Basically, I broke it down into three separate categories: Backups already slated to start, situations where a changing of the guard at QB is inevitable, and then a cluster of wild-card scenarios where I tend to believe a QB change is coming at some point.

Listen to Brady Quinn and Ryan Wilson join host Brady Quinn to break down all the QB changes and more on the Pick Six Podcast. Go ahead and subscribe too -- it's a daily NFL podcast that will make your life roughly 14 times better than it is now.

We'll start with the seven QBs who are set to start in Week 3 that were nowhere near the top of the depth chart when training camps opened. I'm listing them from most confident to least, and then we'll delve into the other categories.

Seven backups slated to start

I told you guys long ago that this is still a division champion with him and not Andrew Luck under center. And a year ago, when Luck was still healthy and starting, I suggested that Luck was better than roughly half of the starting QBs in the NFL. And he is. Yes, there are some warts and limitations, but Brissett is a winning football player and a great leader and he should be 2-0 if not for his 43-year-old kicker hitting the wall, hard. He leads comebacks and he knows how to keep teams in the game. He's going to the postseason.

Drew Brees coming back in November will be like the greatest trade-deadline acquisition ever, and in the meantime Bridgewater will hold down the fort. Last week was rough, but getting to practice with Sean Payton, a top-notch play-caller, every day will be huge and Teddy knows his limitations and can extend plays with his legs and has been through the wars and starting in the playoffs at a young age. He will be just fine.

The Steelers need to step up the run game and the defense, immediately, and this offensive line is better than it has shown through two weeks. But this kid provided an immediate spark last week when Ben Roethlisberger went down and had more of a downfield thrust then Big Ben had through six quarters. He has chemistry with James Washington going back to college and will prevent the bottom falling out on this season.

I like this kid. I like his swag, I like his decision-making, I like his athleticism and I like the dude who coached him his final year n college (Mike Leach). He passes my eye test through two weeks and he's kept his team, which has major limitations on offense, in the game two weeks in a row. The Jags are going nowhere … but they were also going nowhere with Nick Foles at $50M guaranteed and I believe Minshew has a chance to be their guy in 2020.

It's hard to replace a legend, even if that legend has been a below-replacement-level QB for at least three years now. The mind's eye has a way of distorting things, and bottom line is taking over for Eli Manning in-season with this shoddy roster is going to be tough. They lack weapons and the defenses they face the next few weeks look legit. The Bucs are much improved, the Skins can't be this inept forever, the Vikings and Pats are among the best in the NFL, and the Cards and Lions seem much improved. I dare say it's not going to look like the offensive tapestry this represented in the preseason.

It's not looking good for Cam Newton this week, with serious concern about his foot injury and him expected to miss practice all week. And the Panthers are already 0-2 despite playing two NFC home games in the first five days of the season and with the new owner searching for answers and everyone's job on the line. You can only put the ball in Christian McCaffrey's hands so many times, and if Newton misses multiple weeks I suspect rookie Will Grier gets a crack at this starting QB gig, too.

Did you see what happened to Trevor Siemian Monday night? My goodness. Kelvin Beachum doesn't look like an SEC starting left tackle let alone an NFL starter, and as much I liked the way Falk spread the ball around and hung in the pocket and, overall, looked the part, the Jets are going to get more QBs hurt this season and, gulp, Falk is the next in line.

Four inevitable QB changes

He was grabbed in the first round for a reason and Case Keenum is only going to be able to drag this thing out so long. With the Giants already going to their rookie QB and these teams facing off in Week 4, I don't think it's long til the Skins do the same. Love his big arm and believe he can be the franchise QB the Skins have long sought, though he will take his lumps early on.

This Ryan Fitzpatrick thing has run its course and they gave up a second round pick for Rosen – at a time when they are tanking/rebuilding and prizing picks above all else for a reason – because they saw something in him. So he's going to start very soon – maybe this Sunday. He's already played in both games, anyway. Sadly you cannot evaluate his worth at all based on the brutal cast around him, but he is gong to take over soon. Because someone has to.

Man, what a preseason this kid had. And, damn, his rookie coach, Zac Taylor, really believes in him. The Bengals already seem like a team playing for 2021, and starter Andy Dalton has reached a stage in his contract where the deal is incredibly team-friendly and the Bengals are renting him year-to-year and I doubt they re-up with him for the long-term. They will be one of the 5-8 worst teams in the NFL and Dalton had a trade-able deal and no reason not to look at the kid QB given the way the league is going.

The Titans' defense looks potent. They can run the ball. And they might be able to stay in a lot of games. But they haven't extended Marcus Mariota for good reason and they treat him like a limited, rudimentary rookie QB for good reason and when you are in your home opener against a division foe down two points with four to play in fourth and short and punt ... well, you don't believe in this dude, either. If they keep up this kind of turnover ratio, Tannehill might be functional. Either way, I believe we're going to see him.

Three wild cards

Deshaun Watson has been sacked at least four times in eight straight games. But it's worse than you think, because he's been sacked six times or more multiple times in that span and that line remains a total train wreck and Watson continues to risk life and limb for a few yards and hold the ball far too long at times. This has resulted in major injuries each of his two previous NFL seasons and makes me think more of the same is in store. He can't/won't hold up. The play-calling is pedestrian at best and McCarron can't play in this league.  

I will admit I know nothing about this young man. But I do know that Joe Flacco is limited, physically, and is being asked to throw 50 times a game (for some reason) and has been hurt three straight years and, given the weak protection being granted him and the weak running game thus far, I have a very bad feeling about this. Drew Lock is on IR and that rookie isn't ready to play, anyway, but I fear we see Allen way more than any of us would like.

Mitch Trubisky has immense limitations, the Bears have all kinds of expectations and I don't see this ending well. It would take an awful lot for the Bears to sit Mitch down – you know, considering the GM traded up for him for no reason at all to select him well ahead of Watson or Patrick Mahomes – but this could get very ugly. The defense is elite and they reached the playoffs last year and there have been all these narratives about Trubisky's progress and ability, etc. Good luck navigating all of that, especially with the Bears facing an immensely more challenging schedule, not playing with the lead all the time like a year ago and not being blessed with a ridiculously beneficial turnover ratio like they were in 2018, either.

CBS Sports Insider

Before joining CBS Sports, Jason La Canfora was the Washington Redskins beat writer for The Washington Post for six years and served as NFL Network's insider. The Baltimore native can be seen every Sunday... Full Bio

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