No one ever cares about a backup quarterback until it’s too late. After a devastating wave of injuries hit the NFL in Week 2, many fans are wondering which quarterbacks were held back in reserve or are riding the bench. Do you know who your backup quarterback is? Good thing we compiled a handy list of all the backup QBs in the NFL.

Justin Herbert Backup QBs QB quarterbacks
LA Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert is one of the few backup QBs who saw action in Week 2. (Image: Getty)

Having a good backup is often a catch-22. You want someone who is competent and who can fill in at a moment’s notice. At the same time, they can’t be too good, otherwise you’ll have a QB controversy on your hands. Whenever the media gets a whiff of a QB battle, it’s a proverbial zoo. It’s difficult to retain a perfect backup, because if they’re good or want a contract bump, they’ll quickly move on to another team.

Some backup QBs know their role as a perpetual understudy. Career backup QBs never ascend to the ranks of a traditional starter, but they’re just smart enough and talented enough to hold down one of the 30 or so backup jobs in the NFL.

Third stringers are a motley crew of quarterbacks who are about to age out of the NFL, injured QBs fighting to regain their foothold as a starter or backup, or inexperienced noobs who have yet to earn the trust of their coaching staff. Not every team carries a third-stringer on the roster.

Week 2: Herbert, Driskel Backup QBs Called to Action

A couple of backup QBs like Justin Herbert and Jeff Driskel were already tapped to relieve starters. Even Andy Dalton stepped onto the field in Week 2 after Dak Prescott missed a few plays against the Atlanta Falcons.

Herbert didn’t find out he would start until less than five minutes before the kickoff of the LA Chargers and KC Chiefs game. Herbert, a rookie out of Oregon, earned his first start against the Super Bowl champions. To his credit, he did an excellent job with the Chargers holding a lead heading into the fourth quarter. Tyrod Taylor, the Chargers’ starter, suffered a punctured lung during warmups when the team doctor made a huge error while administering a painkiller injection.

Drew Lock of the Denver Broncos went down with a shoulder injury, so Jeff Driskel stepped into action. The Broncos recently added Blake Bortles to bolster the bench If Lock is out for any significant time.

Last season, Ryan Tannehill came off the bench to replace a struggling Marcus Mariota. Tannehill led the Tennessee Titans to the AFC Championship game.

Alex Smith: Back in Washington

The feel-good story of the season so far is the return of Alex Smith to the Washington Football team.

Smith suffered from a compound leg fracture during a game in 2018. He had numerous surgeries and nearly died from an infection. He almost had his leg amputated, but persuaded the doctors to let him keep the limb. His road recovery baffled his doctors, but he battled back and recovered. Everyone thought his career was dunzo, but Smith defied the odds with a heck of a comeback.

Smith is currently the third-stringer at Washington behind Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen.

Backup QBs – AFC

AFC EAST
STARTER BACKUP
3RD
Buffalo Josh Allen Matt Barkley Jake Fromm
New England Jarret Stidham Cam Newton (OUT COVID) Brian Hoyer
NY Jets Joey Flacco Sam Darnold (OUT) James Morgan
Miami Ryan Fitzpatrick Tua Tagovailoa
AFC NORTH
STARTER BACKUP
3RD
Baltimore Lamar Jackson RG3 Trace McSorley
Pittsburgh Ben Roethlisberger Mason Rudolph Josh Dobbs
Cleveland Baker Mayfield Case Keenum Garrett Gilbert
Cincinnati Joe Burrow Ryan Finley
AFC SOUTH
STARTER BACKUP
3RD
Tennessee Ryan Tannehill Logan Woodside Alex McGough
Indianapolis Philip Rivers Jacoby Brissett Jacob Eason
Jacksonville Gardner Minshew II Mike Glennon Jake Luton
Houston DeShaun Watson AJ McCarron Logan Woodside
AFC WEST
STARTER BACKUP
3RD
Kansas City Patrick Mahomes Chad Henne
LA Chargers Justin Herbert Tyrod Taylor Easton Stick
Las Vegas Derek Carr Marcus Mariota Nathan Peterman
Denver Brett Rypien Drew Lock Jeff Driskel. Blake Bortles

Backup QBs – NFC

NFC EAST
STARTER BACKUP
3RD
Washington Alex Smith Dwayne Haskins Kyle Allen
Dallas Andy Dalton Dak Prescott (OUT) Ben DiNucci
NY Giants Daniel Jones Colt McCoy
Philadelphia Carson Wentz Jalen Hurts Nate Sudfeld
NFC NORTH
STARTER BACKUP
3RD
Green Bay Aaron Rodgers Tim Boyle Jordan Love
Chicago Nick Foles Mitch Trubisky
Detroit Matt Stafford Chase Daniel Josh Johnson
Minnesota Kirk Cousins Sean Mannion Nate Staley
NFC SOUTH
STARTER BACKUP
3RD
New Orleans Drew Brees Taysom Hill Jameis Winston
Tampa Bay Tom Brady Blaine Gabbert Ryan Griffin
Atlanta Matt Ryan Matt Schuab
Carolina Teddy Bridgewater PJ Walker Will Grier
NFC WEST
STARTER BACKUP
3RD
Arizona Kyler Murray Chris Streveler Brent Hundley
Seattle Russell Wilson Geno Smith
San Francisco Jimmy Garoppolo CJ Beatherd Nick Mullens
LA Rams Jared Goff John Wofford

Bookmark this link and come back throughout the season. We will update this page week to week. Last update: Week 5.

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