You can’t plan for tragedy in life or in football, but you can be stronger than it. Football is such an amazing game because it is often a microcosm of life. On the surface it can appear brutal and devoid of intelligence, much like life, but both are quite the opposite. That being said, injuries are unavoidable. But grooming a qualified backup quarterback is not.
It makes no sense to have two equally talented quarterbacks on roster for more than a couple of seasons. The Green Bay Packers had Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers on their team for a few seasons. But this is not a solution. That situation is quite rare. In the NFL you need a star quarterback. If you have two then you should trade one for three to five other great pieces. That’s how you build a winning team.
But call me crazy, it is by no means impossible to have a competent backup quarterback on roster. Two teams come right to mind this NFL season. The New York Jets have a stellar backup quarterback in Michael Vick. He is so good in fact that many people think he should start. Travel north a short ways and their rivals, the New England Patriots, are once again grooming a fine backup for Tom Brady. Ryan Mallett could easily be another Matt Cassel if called upon to lead his team because of injury.
The Patriots have shown a history of ensuring their backup quarterback is great in a pinch. Tom Brady stepped in and shined when Drew Bledsoe got injured. His readiness was no coincidence.
I’m not as familiar with the backups in college football, but I know its infinitely more common for top programs to have two stellar starting quarterbacks on roster. So am I crazy to think that teams actually need to develop their backup quarterbacks in today’s NFL and college football? If they neglect to, then they are surely an injury away from disaster.
I can’t agree with you on your assessment of the Jets’ and Patriots’ quarterback situations. New York doesn’t have a good backup; it has a QB controversy the second Geno Smith scuffles. And if last year is any indication, there are certainly going to be scuffles. Mike Vick is too good (necessary caveat: when healthy) to leave on the sidelines and not utilize.
As for New England, Pats fans are unrealistically high on rookie Jimmy Garoppolo and have already moved on from Ryan Mallett. Like Kirk Cousins in Washington, fans get enamored with a backup even if he hasn’t ever really done anything. It takes actual game action in meaningful contests to be able to discern whether or not someone can play in this league.
You make an excellent point in regards to college backups though. At least at the top programs, there are next-generation options on roster who may not be fully ready but could play in a pinch. They are the future because they have the skill to play the position. It’s just a matter of having an opening and an opportunity to play. An injury often results in that chance being given.
Top recruits occasionally pass on programs if their path to a starting job is blocked by an incumbent. The next step of top recruiters may be to persuade those kids to still attend their schools so they have backup options in place should the need arise. As for NFL options, I don’t have a perfect answer. There is no recruiting or persuading usually. Everyone is a professional doing this to earn a living. As the league adjusts though, the reliable backup quarterback may become a more important roster spot. Players like Josh McCown will be brought in to teams to shore up their bench QB rather than being brought in to start week one. It will all come down to how much franchises are willing to pay for that position to be filled.
Photo courtesy of www.theshadowleague.com; QB image via fineartamerica.com; Logos courtesy of the NCAA and the NFL