Matt Cassel. Brad Johnson. Sage Rosenfels. Rex Grossman. J.P. Losman. These are the names of the guys who replaced them under center.
Sure, looking at these backup QBs' stats and winning percentage mostly makes one cringe when thinking about their favorite team's starting quarterback missing time due to an injury. But in looking at a few other situations, I'll pose the question that headlines this article as a legitimate one.
Take the Baltimore Ravens, for example. Before the season, Joe Flacco was the third stringer behind both Kyle Boller and Troy Smith. Two injured quarterbacks later, Flacco is first on the depth chart and has been an important part of the Ravens' playoff run with a 9-5 record this year as a starter.
Would Boller or Smith have been as effective, or would Ravens fans be dealing with an awesome defense and a frustrating offense?
Then you have the Minnesota Vikings. Gus Frerotte took over after two games for Tarvaris Jackson, and the Vikings did well with him at the helm, posting a respectable record and rising to the top (barely) in their division. Then Frerotte gets injured, and suddenly Jackson is back in. Now teams have to prepare for an athletic quarterback of whom they do not have much recent film.
What does Jackson do in the last two games? He completes 19 of 27 passes for 268 yards, five TDs, and no INTs...and the Vikings win both games, including a blowout of the playoff-bound Arizona Cardinals.
Elsewhere, you have the 12-2 Titans being run by Kerry Collins, who came in for a (somewhat) injured Vince Young. There is no doubt Tennessee would have a few more losses on its record at this point with Young leading the offense, rather than looking to grab home field throughout the playoffs.
In other examples, you have three teams who have losing records but can still be a "Yes" answer to the headline question. First, there is the young Tyler Thigpen, who has started the last eight games because of the Chiefs' plethora of injuries at quarterback. He has been productive with over 2,000 yards passing, 15 TDs, and only nine INTs.
While the Chiefs' only win during that span has been over the lowly Raiders, they have lost five games by fewer than seven points, including two one-point losses. The Chiefs may have found their quarterback of the future.
In Seattle, there is Seneca Wallace, who replaced an injured Matt Hasselbeck. The thinking here is the Seahawks wouldn't be in the playoff picture even with a healthy Hasselbeck, so Wallace is getting great experience, and again, Seattle may have found their QB of the future.
Wallace, again, is only 2-4 as a starter, but Hasselbeck is 1-6. Wallace's completion percentage is higher than Hasselbeck's, and he has thrown eight TDs to only one INT, while Hasselbeck has thrown five TDs to 10 INTs. Hasselbeck has thrown for only 109 more yards than Wallace and has played one more game. Seneca is also a better runner than Hasselbeck.
Controversy at the QB position in Seattle next year? Maybe.
Lastly, you have Ryan Fitzpatrick in Cincinnati. He is 2-7-1 as a starter, including a win over the Redskins and the tie vs. the Eagles. Carson Palmer was 0-4. Fitzpatrick was a little interception-prone early on, but he has calmed down and is a gutsy kid.
His numbers for the year: A 60 percent completion rate (better than Palmer), over 1,700 yards passing, seven TDs, and nine INTs. Decent numbers on a pretty bad team. Again, have the Bengals found their QB of the future?
I thought this was an interesting question, so I asked.
As for me, I'll stick with my team's starter. Chad Pennington seems to be doing a pretty good job.