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The Safety Net of Having a Backup Quarterback Has Diminished

If the starting quarterback for the team that you root for suffers a season ending injury or is out for an extended period, your hopes of them making the playoffs are pretty much slim. The reason is that the ability to have a solid backup quarterback has diminished. I remember the days of when Steve Young or Joe Montana would go down with an injury and the backups would come in and contribute right away. Nowadays teams have to change who they are on offense if the starter goes down with a serious injury.

For example, the Dallas Cowboys are a shell of their former selves without star quarterback Tony Romo under center. Romo suffered a broken left clavicle in the Cowboys Week 2 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles. Ever since then the Cowboys season has taken a turn for the worse. The quarterbacks that replaced Tony Romo have been inconsistent at best.

Hopefully, Cowboy fans will start to appreciate the greatness of Tony Romo. Without Romo in the lineup, they are not even considered a playoff team. However, could a legitimate backup quarterback mitigate the loss of Romo during his absence? Most likely yes, but the problem is that today’s backup quarterback are not on the team long enough to learn the offense.

That is the main problem with the Cowboys right now; Matt Cassel does not fully understand the nuances of the Cowboys’ offense. In regards to the other backup quarterback Brandon Weeden, it is a different story. He struggled in Cleveland with weapons such as Josh Gordon, now he’s having the same issues in Dallas with an even better supporting cast, case closed.

About 20 years ago, current Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett had to step in for starting quarterback Troy Aikman for a couple of games during the 1994 season. If you watch the video below, you can see that the Cowboys offense did not miss a beat without Troy Aikman in the lineup. The Cowboys would go on to the NFC Championship Game for the third consecutive season in a row back in 1994.

Fast forward to the current structure of an NFL franchise and a team would be lucky to put up a fight in a game of that magnitude similar to 1994 between the Cowboys and Packers. That’s how bad it has gotten for teams that are now relying on backup quarterbacks to save their season.

Other great teams that have struggled with their backup quarterbacks are the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals back in 2014 when Carson Palmer went down with a torn ACL injury. The Cardinals would go on to make the playoffs in 2014, but it was an early exit as they lost to the Carolina Panthers 27-13. If Palmer did not get hurt, the Cardinals would have probably gone to the Super Bowl.

Fans are quick to say “next man up” when it comes to backups stepping in for injured starters, however; what good is that when the backups are just not that good? As I have said before, “it’s not about the system that makes teams successful in the NFL” it is the players. When you don’t have backup quarterbacks that do not know the ins and outs of the offense, “next man up” doesn’t mean a darn thing.


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Derrick Branch is the founder and lead writer of Tops Sports.Com. He is a die-hard sports fan and keeps it 100 on all things that involve the NFL, NBA, NCAA Football.
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