When you buy an insurance policy, you want to make sure you’ve got a good one all while crossing your fingers that you don’t have to use it.
Backup quarterbacks in the NFL are pretty much the same. You want a guy that can play, but you really hope he never takes off his baseball cap and puts down his clipboard.
The Arizona Cardinals had to rely on that insurance policy a little too much in 2014. Starter Carson Palmer missed two games with a shoulder injury early in the season and then missed the final seven regular season games and a Wild Card playoff game against Carolina.
Backup Drew Stanton started eight games in Palmer’s absence, but he went down with a knee injury of his own in a Week 15 win over the St. Louis Rams. But in his first real NFL game action since 2010, the former Michigan State Spartan played well enough to lead the Cardinals to a 5-3 record.
It’s that experience that has people more confident about the team’s direction should Palmer be injured again this season.
ESPN NFL insider Field Yates ranked the league’s top backup quarterback situations, and put the Cardinals and Stanton at third overall.
We saw extended action from Drew Stanton last season when Carson Palmer went down with an injury. It was far from perfect (55 percent completion percentage, 7-to-5 TD-to-INT ratio), but the Cardinals’ running game was anemic down the stretch. The fit matters here, as Stanton is the sturdy pocket passer coach Bruce Arians covets.
The Cardinals also added veteran Matt Barkley in a trade with Philadelphia at the tail end of the preseason.
The only teams Yates ranked ahead of the Cardinals were the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Mike Glennon) and the Carolina Panthers (Derek Anderson). Philadelphia, New England, Kansas City, Denver, Tennessee, Indianapolis and Cleveland rounded out the list.