The NFL is a quarterback-driven league. Individuals are tuning in to observe Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen do downright loopy issues with a soccer; they need to see Tom Brady proceed his assault on the file books; they’re rooting for younger up-and-comers like Trevor Lawrence.
It’s a quarterback world, and we’re all simply dwelling in it. Through the 2022 season, nevertheless, it has usually occasions additionally been a backup quarterback world.
The Wild Card spherical was no exception, with three groups being led into the playoffs by passers not atop the depth chart at the beginning of the 12 months. Their groups solely went 1-2, however they performed as distinguished a job as any backup QB may hope for.
Take the Baltimore Ravens’ Tyler Huntley, who arrived within the NFL in 2020 as an undrafted free agent. With the group having Lamar Jackson beneath contract as its unquestioned QB1 — at the very least at that time limit — Huntley’s future was clear: sit on the bench, and be able to go ought to the time come.
It did come each in 2021 and 2022, with Huntley beginning a mixed eight common season video games instead of an injured Jackson. This 12 months, he additionally received the prospect to play in a postseason contest.
Then, there are Brock Purdy and Skylar Thompson. Each are in an analogous scenario: they entered the league as seventh-round picks within the 2022 draft, and began out because the third quarterbacks on the San Francisco 49ers’ and Miami Dolphins’ depth charts, respectively. When the choices forward of all of them went down injured, it was their time to show themselves.
Now, right here is the half the place now we have to speak about efficiency for Purdy, Thompson and Huntley. As a result of, nicely, they’re backups for a cause.
Purdy’s 49ers did win their Wild Card sport in opposition to Seattle in moderately lopsided trend, pulling away within the second half to advance on a 41-23 win. The teenager completed with a formidable stat-line — 18-for-30, 332 yards, three touchdowns — however he did have his ups and downs whereas working in one of many NFL’s most quarterback-friendly offensive schemes.
Thompson and Huntley, in the meantime, got here up on the mistaken finish but in addition had their moments. Miami saved it shut in opposition to Buffalo, shedding 34-31 regardless of getting into the competition as 14-point underdogs; Thompson did have some encouraging performs regardless of ending up finishing simply 18 of 45 throws for 220 yards with one landing and two picks.
Huntley’s Ravens additionally fought tooth and nail versus the heavily-favored Bengals. And, boy, did he do his finest to maintain his males on this one: he discovered success each as a passer and as a runner, executing coordinator Greg Roman’s calls on a excessive degree. Till he didn’t, that’s: his fumble whereas making an attempt to succeed in the ball throughout the road on a quarterback sneak proved to be the distinction in opposition to the reigning AFC champions; the ball got here free and Cincinnati returned it 98 yards for the sport’s decisive landing.
Huntley’s efficiency was due to this fact not in contrast to Thompson’s and Purdy’s. There was some good and a few unhealthy. It was what you’ll anticipate from a backup QB.
Nonetheless, the three additionally didn’t utterly soften down with all eyes on them. Positive, that may be a low bar to clear however we’ve additionally seen backup quarterbacks falter in essentially the most spectacular of fashions when requested to out of the blue carry the load. Trying your method, 2014 Ryan Lindley.
Clearly, not all people will be 2001 Tom Brady or 2017 Nick Foles. But when there’s something like a Foles-Lindley spectrum for backup quarterback play within the postseason, all three in all probability have been a bit nearer to the previous than the latter. However once more, it was a combined bag all through for all of them.
In a method, they due to this fact completely represented one of many greater storylines for the 2022 season: backup passers unexpectedly being thrown into motion.
Solely 10 of the NFL’s 32 groups noticed their quarterbacks begin all of their video games. Eight of these golf equipment — all however the Jared Goff-led Detroit Lions and the Aaron Rodgers-led Inexperienced Bay Packers — made it into the playoffs.
The opposite 22 groups had, at one level, name up the reinforcements both as a consequence of damage or efficiency. The 49ers, Dolphins and Ravens are amongst them, as are three different postseason contributors: the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys, coincidentally all residing within the hyper-competitive NFC East.
That meant that gamers akin to Gardner Minshew or Cooper Rush received their shot. The identical was true for Mike White and Bailey Zappe, Jarrett Stidham and Brett Rypien, John Wolford an Malik Willis. A ragtag group of gamers when you ever noticed one.
However on the finish of the day they performed an important function in writing the nonetheless ongoing story of the 2022 NFL season. The identical is true for Skylar Thompson and Tyler Huntley, and the one one left standing: Mr. Irrelevant himself, Brock Purdy.
Will Purdy lead San Francisco to the promised land? Possibly, possibly not. On the very least he’ll proceed to carry the flag excessive for at the very least another week, one thing no one anticipated when he first joined the 49ers again in Might.
However given how the present season goes, seeing him begin a divisional spherical sport subsequent week is par the course. Seems it’s, in any case, the 12 months of the backup quarterback.