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The Three Most Reliable Backup Quarterbacks in the NFL

The Three Most Reliable Backup Quarterbacks in the NFL

by Tanner KernDecember 21, 2020

The backup quarterback is one of the most critical positions in the NFL. The player is expected to prepare like the starter with fewer reps and deliver when their name is called at any given time during a game. This could be for a single snap, game, or an entire year if the starter becomes unavailable.

Here are my choices for the most reliable backup quarterbacks in the NFL.

Most Reliable Backup Quarterbacks – #1 | Ryan Fitzpatrick – Miami Dolphins

Ryan Fitzpatrick who is also known as “Fitzmagic,” has made a career from being the most reliable backup quarterback in the NFL. Fitzpatrick was drafted in the 7th round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. He has played for eight teams in his career and has been the feature starter on more than one occasion.

Fitzpatrick has over a 60% completion percentage in 15 NFL seasons. He has thrown 222 touchdowns, 169 interceptions, and just under 35,000 yards in his time in the league. Fitzpatrick has defined reliability off the bench for years. You don’t put together a 15-year career without bringing something to the table.

Fitzpatrick is also a Harvard graduate and his high IQ has been evident throughout his career. Not one of the eight teams that Fitzpatrick has played for has had to worry about brains with the 38-year-old quarterback on their side.

Most Reliable Backup Quarterbacks – #2 | Nick Foles – Chicago Bears

Nick Foles hasn’t always been second on the depth chart, but he made his mark as a backup with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017. Nick Foles stepped into the starting role after Carson Wentz tore his ACL and delivered in a big way. Foles came in during a Week 14 contest against the Falcons in 2017 and led the team all the way to a Super Bowl Championship.

In the Super Bowl, Foles and the Eagles defeated Tom Brady and the Patriots by a score of 41-33. Foles was named the Super Bowl MVP for his 28 of 33 night where he threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns.

Foles was taken in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He has a 62.4% completion percentage in his career and an 87.1 quarterback rating. Foles has made a living off the bench in his nine NFL seasons thus far.

Most Reliable Backup Quarterbacks – #3 | Marcus Mariota – Las Vegas Raiders

Marcus Mariota was the 2nd overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. His career started off strong in Tennessee. He put up great numbers in his first few seasons as the starter for the Titans. He took the Titans to the playoffs in 2017 and was the team’s backup during their 2019 playoff appearance. Injuries and poor performance ended Mariota’s tenure as the starter in Tennessee in 2019.

Despite this, the former first round pick is still a very good quarterback. He is currently the backup to Derek Carr in Las Vegas. He just made his first appearance with Las Vegas in Week 15. Mariota came in off the bench for an injured Carr and blew fans away with his poise in the pocket.

Mariota established that he’s not done making an impact in the NFL just yet. The Raiders were defeated by the Chargers 30-27 in OT, but Mariota had a big statistical night. The 27-year-old was 17 of 28 for 226 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 88 yards and an additional touchdown while only throwing one interception. This was a heroic effort considering that it was Mariota’s first game action of the season.

Most Reliable Backup Quarterbacks – Final Thoughts

When I was thinking about this list, a few other names came into my head including Jameis Winston. I don’t mind Winston, but the New Orleans backup has been eating more L’s than W’s as of late. Sean Payton didn’t start Winston in Week 11 after Drew Brees went down in Week 10 with broken ribs and a collapsed lung.

Payton chose to play Taysom Hill who was active in the team’s offensive game plan with Drew Brees at quarterback as a utility weapon. If anyone asks why Jameis didn’t make the list, don’t get mad. Just go ask Sean Payton.

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About The Author
Tanner Kern
Tanner Kern is a former Division I football player at Lafayette College and a graduate of the University of Connecticut. He is a former writer for USA Wager and!