5 Backup Quarterbacks Who Can Earn Starting Jobs by Midseason

Jon Siddoway@@JSiddowayCorrespondent IAugust 23, 2012

Aug 18, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow warms up before the game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via US PRESSWIRE
The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE

Tim Tebow is not the only backup quarterback worth your attention. 

Sure, he is the poster boy, but it should be a collage. Several other backups impatiently wait for their chance to assume the starting role. They're pushing; they're clawing, and they're fighting to climb up to the peak of the depth chart. 

Here are five most likely to start by midseason.  

Tebow, New York Jets

And by "midseason," I mean Week 3, possibly sooner.

As soon as Mark Sanchez throws an incompletion, "Tebow!" chants are sure to flood MetLife Stadium. Heck, I've been hearing them since the day of his arrival in the Big Apple. Mind you, I live in the Bay Area.

But this quarterback controversy is more than just birthed from the media; it's real. Every time Sanchez is expected to take a step forward, he instead takes a step (sometimes two) back. His inconsistent play was a major reason why the Jets missed out on the recent playoffs. 

Then there's Tebow, forever trending in the Twittersphere—wherever he goes, the hashtag follows.  

We know who he is, what he does. He simply wins games in strange and ugly yet riveting ways. The throwing motion is longer than the "Land Before Time" movie series, but he's effective and an unequivocal leader—exactly what this team is missing.   

Matt Leinart, Oakland Raiders

If you're looking for the Carson Palmer of old, good luck. And if you happen to find him, tell Santa Clause and the Loch Ness Monster "hello" for me.

Partially "retired" and then traded for two high draft picks in late October, Palmer is nowhere near even the shell of his former self—a two-time Pro Bowl invitee. In 10 games with the Raiders last season, he threw for 2,753 yards, 13 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

The easy (and reasonable) excuse for the lackluster play would be a lack of familiarity in the offense—Palmer admittedly never even read 50 percent of the playbook. However, the struggles have continued. Palmer is 16-of-30 for 140 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions during preseason play.

Benching the man now is a premature thought, but if nothing changes, the reigns may be handed over to Leinart, who appears as confident as ever.

Matt Flynn, Seattle Seahawks

If—and the size of that "if" is diminishing by the minute—rookie Russell Wilson wins the starting job, Flynn will return to his clipboard-holding duties. With three years of experience, he's pretty good at it. I mean, have you seen those forearms? 

When Flynn signed in the offseason as a free agent, it was to become a starter for a new team. And when he agreed on a three-year deal worth $26 million with the Seahawks, we all thought "mission accomplished, Matt." 

Not so fast.

Russell, a third-round selection in April, has been the surprise of camp and catapulted himself to the top of the depth chart. But that's not the end for Flynn, hardly. He's a capable quarterback when given the opportunity. In two career starts, Flynn has thrown for 734 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions.

Should Wilson falter, Flynn is ready to drop the clipboard and step in.

Mike Kafka, Philadelphia Eagles

No, it has nothing to do with Karma being a "female dog." 

Michael Vick's growing list of injuries, especially since his release from prison, has everything to do with protection problems and the quarterback's fearless scrambling—often for significant yardage. Obviously, injuries can befall any NFL player at any given moment on the gridiron, but Vick tends to invite it with his style of play.

He escapes the pocket, takes off full-speed—which is very, very fast—and rarely slides to avoid tacklers. He's already banged up this preseason (ribs) after a crushing hit by Jermaine Cunningham of the New England Patriots.

X-rays were negative, and Vick is expected back before the team's Sept. 9 opener. But it's only a matter of time until Kafka is needed for a lengthier stay.

And if so, Kafka has the skill set to succeed. He has prototypical size (6'3", 225 pounds), athleticism and arm strength for the position. He also already has a firm grasp of the offense and the respect of his teammates.

Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals

John Skelton and his four-year, $1.972-million contract is in the driver seat to start. Kolb and his five-year, $63-million contract is headed to the sideline as a backup. That's not a bad gig if you ask me.

Kolb was given another fair shot at winning the starting slot, but he fell short once again. He has been a major disappointment since signing with the Cardinals. The talent is still there, and though the window is closing, it's open a crack. He has to keep working on the basics (footwork, reads, etc.) and prepare for another chance; it might be his last in Arizona.


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