Jump to content
Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts Fan Forum
  • entries
  • comments
  • views

Is The Backup Field General Ever Worthy Or Ready For Game Day Shrapnel?



As our beloved Colts franchise undergoes a massive overhaul this year, from GM, to head coach, to staff, & finally roster additions & subtractions, I wonder if our team & the corresponding front office in INDY have finally grasped the importance of maintaining a quality back up quarterback yet. Starting QB's these days are prone to a number of injuries these days from concussions, to rib damage, to knee damage, to ankle damage, & ,as we all know, neck damage too just to name a few ailments.

Curtis Painter as we all know was not the the answer. Even Bill Polian had to acknowledge that misplaced athletic trust in him over time as the losses continued to mount up over the course of the season. Is Dan Orlovsky capable to fill this crucial role permanently? Too soon to conclusively state that he has earned that right yet. What really are the necessary guidelines for a quality backup QB anyway? You seldom get reps with the 1st string squad yet you are expected to execute the plays flawlessly even though you have had no time to develop team or individual player chemistry & timing with routes & receivers & tight ends. You must memorize the entire playbook & go to unit meetings with the specific coaches, but unless the QB coach puts you in there during practice to stay sharp or the receivers agree to work with you after practice individually you won't be precise, crisp, & fluid in your throwing motion, delivery of the ball, & route combinations.

I liken this lack of QB fluidity to Drivers ED training. Remember in high school when your instructor loaded up the car with 4 students & took everyone out for a spin behind the wheel? One student is told to paralell [sic] park & then the instructor asks eyeryone else "Did they do that correctly observing all the rules of the road with safety in mind at all times?" Nobody knows & nobody cares either because you are in the backseat day dreaming wondering if you get to step in the driver's seat next. Here's my point: Until a coach gives you the green light to take the reins for real & lead this team of horses down field for real, does a backup QB honestly believe that he's getting real reps with an iron man veteran QB at the helm? Yes, back up QB's get paid handsomely to be prepared for the injury bug reality, but until LIVE rounds are in the game day gun & you are baptized by the line of scrimmage defensive fire...You are just like that high school driver's ed kid twiteling [sic] your thumbs patiently waiting to grab the wheel & hit the accelerator full throttle baby!!! What are the definitive job description rules for backup QB's around the league anyway? Which ever one is cheapest & the most experienced?

How do back QB's stay sharp, motivated, on fire, & accurate when most veteran players view you & your position just like a field goal kicker? You barely break a sweat, still get a nice check, & nobody cares about you unless they need your foot to win a hard fought game or get them into overtime...If you miss the uprights, join the FBI's Witness Protection Program man because the fans & city will despise you.

Not an easy spot to be in...The life of an NFL backup is hard & short-lived...Can I get behind the wheel now?!!


Recommended Comments

I totally agree with this. I don't think Painter would have been very good this year no matter how much practice he had. You have to wonder though just how ready can they really be. It makes sense that the starter gets all the reps but what about the backup? Thats a good question. It really does make you think. Some backups come in and do an awesome job, so are they just more talented then other backups? It makes me wonder how they are supposed to be ready. They know the playbook true but never play in a real game. Im sure the few snaps they get in practice is a lot easier to execute then in a real game situation. I kind of feel bad for them if they come in and do bad. I know I want them to do good and hate to see my team lose because of it. You have to ask though, how much can you really expect out of them? Definitely a good topic to think about.

  • Like 1
Link to comment

Thanks Kayla. I appreciate your analysis & time as always. Playing the backup QB well is often never highlighted or appreciated unless you have a poor game. Then, everybody's got an opinion on your pocket presence & throwing mechanics. Usually, the dominant question is how fast can you be released & cut? Not fair really when you consider a lack of reps & that no one can hit, tackle, or touch the red shirted QB in practice.

I like my Driver's Education analogy too. Does anyone really pay attention in their role as the backup QB? No, not really not until they get to drive the franchise Ferrari for real in a LIVE game atmosphere beyond pre-season anyway.

Link to comment

I am first going to say I may be the best parallel parking whiz in Brownstown, Indiana....population 7,001 drivers, 30,000 cows, 22,000 horses, 75,000 pigs, 6 million chickens, and a partridge in a pear tree. I am THE MVP!(Most Valuable Parker) I still have a hard time with the 10 and 2 technique, but that is another story.

Two of the best backup QBs in my lifetime have been Earl Morrall of the Baltimore Colts and the Miami Dolphins and Billy Kilmer of the Washington Redskins. They seemed ready to play at a moment's notice when Johnny Unitas, Bob Griese and Sonny Jurgensen went down. Being ready separates the men from the boys. It is up to the QB coach and the QB himself to ready to go.

Morrall took over for Johnny Unitas in 1968. Sounds like another legend going down. With and injured Unitas out, Morrall took the Colts to a 13-1 record and the Super Bowl which was lost to the NY Jets. He shared time with Unitas in the loss. He filled in for an injured Bob Griese in Miami's undefeated season. Griese played in the Super Bowl.

Kilmer took over after an aging Jurgensen began to break down wit an assortment of injuries. My favorite memory of this was "Jurgy" was known for having a monster arm. Kilmer was known for throwing 'wounded ducks."

I found a list of Backup QBs that went on to win Super Bowls that came in during the regular season from a Q&A session on Quora by Steve Ritter from NY: I did not check for accuracy, but found the names intriguing:

  • Roger Staubach backed up Craig Morton for the first few games of the 1971 season.
  • Terry Bradshaw was in and out of the starting role his first few years. He lost the job to Joe Gilliam in the 1974 preseason...came back to start and the rest is history.
  • Jim Plunkett started out 1980 backing up Dan Pastorini.
  • Doug Williams only started two games in 1987 and lost them both. He had replaced Jay Schroeder
  • Jeff Hostetler took over for Phil Simms on the 1990..
  • Trent Dilfer backed up Tony Banks to start 2000.
  • Tom Brady was the second-stringer for Drew Bledsoe in early 2001 .

UpvoteDownvoteRepostComment13:48 on Tue Jul 12 2011

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Blog Statistics

    Total Blogs
    Total Entries
  • Create New...