Six teams will be forced or opt to put in a backup quarterback for this week in the NFL. Those teams include the Chicago Bears, St. Louis Rams, Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings, Houston Texans, and Buffalo Bills with outlooks that range from awful to potentially a better outlook than they previously had. As a result, here are the projections for how hopeful the fans of those teams should feel this week and who has the best option of the bunch.
Kellen Clemens, St. Louis Rams – Sam Bradford was having a relatively productive season for the Rams and the Rams were battling with a .500 record before he went down and they fell to 3-4. When he has played, Clemens has been mediocre at best and much was made of former Browns quarterback and preseason commentator Bernie Kosar being critical of Clemens. The problem is that Kosar was right. Clemens was pretty dreadful. The Rams appear to be screwed, especially this week against the Seattle Seahawks.
Josh McCown, Chicago Bears – McCown is definitely not Jay Cutler and there is certainly a drop off, but he managed to look the part of an average, functional backup quarterback that is not going to win games, but is not going to lose them either. Ultimately, the Bears lost last week 45-42 and their defense has been a sieve this season. If there is good news, it is that the Bears are on their bye week with two weeks to get McCown as many reps as possible before they go to Lambeau to take on the Packers. McCown is an average option, but the Bears are going to be frustrated, but their defense might be as much of the reason as McCown.
Jason Campbell, Cleveland Browns – Brandon Weeden was a train wreck for the Browns. They had a brief window of competent play from Brian Hoyer before he was injured and they were back to Weeden. Campbell will have a difficult time being any worse than Weeden was and could actually be better, but nothing in his career suggests Browns fans should be hopeful with this offense, especially this week as they go to Arrowhead and take on the Chiefs and the best defense in the NFL.
Christian Ponder/Josh Freeman, Minnesota Vikings – Whether it is Ponder’s brand of underwhelming and mediocre play or Freeman who will have really exciting incompletions if nothing else, the Vikings appear to be in a world of hurt right now. Freeman should get better as he gets reps and time with his receivers and gets more comfortable with the offense, but with the announcement that he suffered a concussion, it is hard to imagine that if he can play, there will be much progress as the Vikings prepare to take on the Packers.
Thaddeus Lewis, Buffalo Bills – With the injury to E.J. Manuel, Lewis has had the past two weeks to show what he could do for the Bills after the debut and then cut of Jeff Tuel. Lewis makes quick decisions and will get rid of the ball, but he will also throw some passes and not see defenders there that can result in some bad turnovers. He is largely a mediocre to average passer which ends up being good enough for the Bills to stay in games. This week in particular will be tough for Lewis if he is forced to try to keep pace with the New Orleans Saints offense and could result in a bad day with turnovers. Nevertheless, Lewis might be the third best option of this group.
Case Keenum, Houston Texans – Keenum could easily end up being an upgrade over Matt Schaub, who has been nothing short of a nuclear meltdown this season. The fact the Houston Texans did not do more to prepare for that eventuality after his mediocre year last year puts more pressure on Keenum to be effective and opens up the front office for criticism should he fail. With the Texans roster, Keenum is in the best situation to potentially be successful and has a chance, however small, to come out of this as the starter for the rest of this season and beyond. The Texans are on their bye this week and have two weeks to get Keenum prepared for a tough game at home against the Indianapolis Colts.