A phenomenon is developing in pro football where second string nobodies are putting up promising performances.
Nick Foles led the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl and directly contributed to their eventual Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots. But Foles was never supposed to be the best quarterback in the league; in fact, he was never even meant to be the best quarterback on the Eagles. How could it be that the Eagles were unaware of the starting caliber QB that was riding their bench the entire time? This has been the ongoing narrative surrounding another round of back-up QBs causing a stir in the NFL.
The early weeks of the NFL season have led to a brutal series of injuries in the quarterback position as starters across the league have experienced a number of complications. Nearly 10 teams have been forced to rely on back-up QBs, with varying degrees of success.
Although the QB position is undeniably the most vital position in football, bad luck has forced some teams into some less-than-ideal situations regarding back-up quarterbacks, and the question remains as to whether these back-up quarterbacks will vacate the starting position when their injured teammates are ready to return.
As of week six, potential contenders such as the New Orleans Saints have been plagued with injuries at the QB position. Teddy Bridgewater has taken up the mantle of starting quarterback, and although he is replacing a superstar, this back-up has enjoyed a moderate amount of success in his unexpected position.
Teddy Bridgewater is a surprising success story this season in terms of back-ups. When Drew Brees injured his hand against the Los Angeles Rams in week two, the expectation was for Bridgewater to coast on the solid skills of his running back and the rest of his offense. Instead, he has led the Saints to three straight victories.
Although Bridgewater has had an easy time in the backfield, flipping the ball to Alvin Kamara, the success seen in the QB position is not something that a back-up is usually able to produce.
It should be noted that, while Bridgewater hasn’t done anything single-handedly, the Saints have been exceedingly lucky to have a second-string QB that doesn’t entirely crumble under the pressure of an NFL caliber defense.
The success of the Brees-less Saints has been downright jarring; however, it is even more jarring that other teams have experienced similar success from their back-ups.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants and, until recently, the Pittsburgh Steelers have enjoyed moderate success from their backups. So much so that their back-ups — Mason Rudolph, Daniel Jones and Gardner Minshew — are just a few of the many that could find themselves in permanent starting jobs next season.
The era of certain prolific starting quarterbacks such as Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger could be swiftly coming to an end.
Although these quarterbacks have been the face of the NFL for years, the league has demonstrated that the talent required to be a successful quarterback is not generational.
These quarterbacks will be welcomed back with open arms, but it is somewhat comforting to know that when they finally pass the torch, a number of young quarterbacks will undoubtedly be ready to pick up where they left off.