Shutdown Corner's Overrated and Underrated: Backup QB

Shutdown Corner's Overrated and Underrated: Backup QB
Shutdown Corner's Overrated and Underrated: Backup QB

This offseason, Shutdown Corner's Frank Schwab and Eric Edholm will look into what is overrated and underrated in all aspects of the NFL. We fully expect your angry emails and comments that are sure to follow.



Eric Edholm: Kirk Cousins

Cousins is one of the more impressive young men you’ll meet. Smart, dedicated, hard-working — the kind of kid who would be successful in any endeavor, plus the type you’d want to marry your daughter.

But his NFL success must be viewed in relative terms. As in, anything he has done or will do in this league is remarkable because of his JAG physical skills. You know, JAG ... just a guy.

That’s scout-speak for a player who simply doesn’t have the talent ever to be more than just passable. Certainly, many backup quarterbacks fall into this category, and Cousins will be as ready as ever for Washington when called upon — a great thing considering Robert Griffin III and his scarred knees are starting.

But outside of a 329-yard game against the Browns his rookie season, Cousins had been pretty bad. Even in a 381-yard game last season, after finally replacing Griffin in Week 15, Cousins threw two picks and lost a fumble in a one-point loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

There were some whispers of trade interest before the season, likely from the same teams who privately said Washington got a steal when they landed Cousins in the fourth round in 2013. Much of it is hot air. Cousins’ reputation league wide as a potential starter — after all, isn’t that what a backup is? — is much higher than it deserves to be.

Frank Schwab: Michael Vick

I know why Vick is the most talked-about backup in the NFL. He's one of the more interesting players of the NFL this century (I'll have more to say on that later this offseason). And he went to New York, where everything is made out to be more important than it really is, behind a shaky starter in Geno Smith. The situation was ripe for Vick to become a huge story. Vick has gotten more attention than most NFL starting quarterbacks this offseason.

The thing is, Vick's legend surpasses his 2014 reality. It has for a couple years, really.

Vick had a fantastic 2010 season, perhaps the best of his career. He has played 30 games since then. Here are his numbers: 534-for-915 (58.4 percent), 6,880 yards, 35 touchdowns, 27 interceptions, 11 fumbles lost. That's not tremendous for what amounts to almost two full seasons. He's 34. He hasn't played more than 13 games in a season since 2006. Last year he had a golden opportunity to have a career-defining year, beginning the season as the starter in Chip Kelly's offense, but got hurt and Nick Foles took his job. The Eagles went on to have the most yards per passing play and the most yards per rushing play with Vick as a backup.

Vick might be the Jets' best option, but that's more because Smith had such a mistake-filled rookie year. Vick is still an interesting figure, and will always draw attention, but the days of Vick's production warranting the attention are over ... probably.


EE: Matt Moore

Moore is unfairly beaten up for playing poorly for a horrific Panthers team in 2010 (12 turnovers in his five starts that season), but he otherwise has been surprisingly good for the rest of his career.

An undrafted rookie in 2007, Moore was among the final cuts of the Dallas Cowboys despite a strong preseason performance. Seeing that, the Panthers picked him up and added him to the roster. Smart move: He ended up starting, and playing relatively well, in three games down the stretch.

(USA Today Sports Images)
(USA Today Sports Images)

Moore also looked very strong in 2009 when he started five games for the Panthers, throwing for 1,053 yards with eight TDs, two interceptions and no fumbles lost.

Signing in Miami prior to the 2011 season, Moore also bailed out an 0-4 Dolphins team with a few gutsy performances and turned what looked like the worst offense in football to a 6-6 finish with a 16-9 TD-INT ratio despite a crummy offensive line and few weapons around him.

For some reason, Moore was also criticized for not holding off rookie Ryan Tannehill longer in 2012. But why? Mike Sherman was tasked to make the system work for the rookie, and that’s why Tannehill played right away after he showed it lights would not be too bright.

Moore, who turns 30 this summer, has put together a nice little NFL career and is the perfect backup: good enough to step in when called on yet not too sexy so as to distract attention away from the starter, even if Tannehill were to struggle.

Plus, Moore’s teammates describe him as very easy-going and smart, well-liked by just about everyone he has come to play with or for.

FS: Mike Glennon

Among all projected backup quarterbacks, one led that group with 19 touchdowns last season, eight more than any other expected 2014 backup. His 2,608 yards in 2013 were almost 600 more than any other backup for this year. And he only started 13 games, as a rookie. You'd assume that he'd be better in his second year, right?

Well, you already know that 2014 backup with the intriguing 2013 numbers was Glennon; the header to this section gave that away. And it's not my first time taking a turn as the president of the Mike Glennon Should Be Tampa Bay's Starter Club. I'm baffled by the whole idea that Lovie Smith needed a veteran, any veteran, to replace last year's All-Rookie quarterback. Instead of giving Glennon the job and all the valuable reps leading into next season, the Buccaneers signed Josh McCown, a journeyman who got this contract based off six good starts with the Bears last season. And unless the Buccaneers are fantastic at bluffing, they plan on McCown being their starter. They've hurt Glennon's progress and perhaps downgraded at quarterback (2,608 yards and 19 touchdowns would be McCown's season bests in his 11 NFL seasons, for what it's worth) for no really good reason.

Glennon deserves to start this year, to at least show if his rookie season was a sign that he can be a solid NFL quarterback, but that's not Tampa Bay's plan. We'll see how it works out.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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