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Best Backup Quarterbacks in the NFL

It’s been a season full of surprises for the NFL including the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, disappointing records for top teams (see the Atlanta Falcons and the Houston Texans) and the year of the backup quarterback.

To-date as we approach Week 10, 11 teams have turned to their backup quarterback for a minimum of one start within the first eight weeks of this season, reported USA Today. Some have fared better than others but this growing list of teams has included the Buffalo Bills, the Chicago Bears, the Cleveland Browns, the Houston Texans, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Minnesota Vikings, the Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, the St. Louis Rams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Tennessee Titans.

With all these teams relying on their number 2 and number 3 signal callers, which ones are the best?

Ryan Fitzpatrick (Tennessee Titans): New to the ranks as a backup after starting with the Buffalo Bills just last season, Fizpatrick now sits behind starter Jake Locker. Fitzpatrick was called into action by the team in Week 4 and led them to a win over the New York Jets. He was challenged in Week 5 (Kansas City Chiefs) and Week 6 (Seattle Seahawks)—both tough competitors.

Fitzpatrick is confident as a backup and perhaps his biggest downfall is the fact he still believes he should be the No. 1 guy.

Kirk Cousins (Washington Redskins): As a rookie, Cousins got the starting nod last season in place of fellow rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III against the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens.

From these games he completed 68.8 percent of his passes and grabbed a 4-3 TD-interception ratio. He is confident; he can handle pressure and is a pure passer.

Cousins is the youngster among the top backup quarterbacks. Will he eventually find an opportunity as a starter in this league?

Matt Hasselbeck (Indianapolis Colts): Andrew Luck is the center of the Colts’ offense and is considered among the best of the league’s new generation of elite quarterbacks. He is healthy but still needs a backup and that’s where veteran Hasselbeck, 38, comes into the picture. He has Super Bowl experience from his days as a Seattle Seahawk. He can pass accurately and read defenses well.

Age has slowed Hassebeck down but should he get called to action, the Colts will feel confident with him.

Kyle Orton (Dallas Cowboys): Orton, 30, has starting experience for the Bears, the Denver Broncos and the Kansas Chiefs, amassing a 35-34 career record.

When on the field, he’s confident; he has command of his offense and he can shake off a hit.

He may not throw like quarterback Tony Romo, but he makes good decisions.

Shaun Hill (Detroit Lions): In 2010, Hill had 10 starts, but nothing since then as starting quarterback Matthew Stafford has been healthy. Under Hill’s leadership, the Lions went 3-7 but he did a good job throwing the ball as he had a 61.8 percent pass completion rate with a 16-12 touchdown-interception ratio.

Hill may not have the greatest arm but he is a good decision-maker.

Other top backup quarterbacks include Josh McCown (Bears), Jason Campbell (Browns), Matt Moore (Miami Dolphins),  Colt McCoy (San Francisco 49ers), Chad Henne (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Ryan Mallett (New England Patriots).

Notice a trend here? Yep, they’re all seasoned and took their turn as starters in the league.

Debbie Baratz

Deb has been writing about the NFL and NCAA football for the last few years. She is a full-time writer and an avid sports fan. Follow her on twitter @ldbar.

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