Last November, Arizona Cardinals fans watched their starting quarterback, Carson Palmer, crumble to the ground after tearing his ACL.
Backup Drew Stanton stepped up, and threw a touchdown pass on his first drive of the game.
Stanton went on to help the Cardinals squeak out four wins in their following six games. He threw for 1,182 yards with five touchdown passes and five interceptions before he too went down with a knee injury a month after getting the starting nod.
This week, ESPN’s John Clayton released his list of the top-10 best backups in the league, fresh off the re-signing of some notable backups like Seattle’s Tavaris Jackson and Matt Flynn as the backup to New England’s Jimmy Garappolo while Tom Brady sits (and seethes) through his four-game suspension.
Stanton was not on the list of these names, which included Ryan Fitzpatrick at No. 1 and Mark Sanchez at No. 2.
Clayton wrote, “The league-wide thought on a quality backup is that they can win you three games once they get on the field, but if you play them six, they could lose you three.”
That logic explains the choices of Fitzpatrick and Sanchez, the former of whom won six games in 12 starts and the latter of whom won four of his eight starts.
The list names Christian Ponder at No. 8, who played two games last season and threw four passes.
“Ponder makes the list because he’s averaged 23.5 points per game during his starts…he had the benefits of having Adrian Peterson in the Vikings backfield,” wrote Clayton.
Miami’s Matt Moore was listed at No. 9. He threw two completions last season on four attempts. In fact, Moore hasn’t been fully tested as a backup since 2011 and has thrown just 29 passes in the last three years.
Mike Glennon, who will back up Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston this season and was thought by ESPN’s Matt Williamson to be a good pickup option for the Cardinals, was listed at No. 6.