Quarterback is one of the most important positions in sports and by far the top position in football. You can’t win without a good one, which is why good quarterback insurance is a great thing to have. Few backup pivots can lead teams to Super Bowls, but some of them are strong enough to keep teams afloat in case of emergency.
Here are the NFL’s top 10 backups entering training camps:
1. Derek Anderson, Carolina Panthers: Nearly a decade ago, Anderson was a Pro Bowler in Cleveland. He’s rarely been needed during his four-year stint in Carolina, but when Cam Newton wasn’t available in 2014, Anderson went 2-0 while completing 67.0 percent of his passes and posting a passer rating of 116.8. Can’t ask for much more out of your backup, and Anderson is still only 31 years old.
2. Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles: Sanchez performed surprisingly well in short spurts behind Nick Foles last season before eventually falling off a cliff. But if you only need him for a game or two at a time, the extremely talented former top-five pick really does have the ability to step in and win games. He was 4-4 with an 88.4 passer rating with Philly in 2014.
3. Matt Hasselbeck, Indianapolis Colts: The league’s oldest position player, Hasselbeck is no longer the Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback he used to be, but he’s the definition of reliable. The 39-year-old had a 102.6 passer rating on 44 passes when needed in 2014, which is all you can hope for with your backup signal caller.
4. Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The 25-year-old has an 83.7 career passer rating and has thrown nearly twice as many touchdowns as he has interceptions. He can absolutely hold it down if Jameis Winston needs to be relieved.
5. Shaun Hill, Minnesota Vikings: Hill’s 85.5 career passer rating is actually pretty decent, and he did a solid job when asked to start in San Francisco, Detroit and St. Louis. The 35-year-old fits in nicely as a backup to young Teddy Bridgewater.
6. Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets: The 32-year-old journeyman is on his fourth team in four years, which isn’t ideal. But he may even have a chance to start with the Jets, who have the shaky Geno Smith in the No. 1 spot. The last three years, Fitzpatrick has completed 61.7 percent of his passes and has a passer rating of 86.1. He gets the job done.
7. Zach Mettenberger, Tennessee Titans: He wasn’t bad as a rookie, completing just under 60 percent of his passes and posting a passer rating of 83.4 despite playing for a terrible team. Mettenberger has the ability to compete for starting spots in this league, which makes the youngster an ideal backup to push rookie Marcus Mariota.
8. Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars: The 29-year-old has been serviceable as a borderline starter throughout his career, which makes him a nice backup for the young Blake Bortles.
9. Matt Schaub, Baltimore Ravens: The 33-year-old has 90 starts and two Pro Bowls on his résumé, making him the perfect insurance policy for Joe Flacco. Still, you have to wonder if the guy’s running out of gas. Hell, the Oakland Raiders gave up on him.
10. Ryan Mallett, Houston Texans: Mallett makes the list based on overall ability, although he has yet to do anything of significance at the NFL level. He’s still competing for a starting job in Houston, but it seems as though Brian Hoyer might have the inside edge there.