Gallo: The backup quarterback tiers

David Eulitt/Kansas City Star/MCT

Case Keenum didn't beat the Chiefs, but he sure came close. Maybe that's enough for another start.

Week 7 was rough on quarterbacks. Even with every rule in the NFL rulebook now modified to protect quarterbacks in some way, several QBs were knocked out of action Sunday.

That means the quarterback spotlight is now on the NFL's second-string quarterbacks. As any wise NFL analyst and/or crazed fan will tell you, second-string QBs are classified into four categories, or tiers. They are:

Tier 1: This guy will make us better!

Tier 2: We might not be any worse with this guy!

Tier 3: We're pretty much doomed!

Tier 4: We're completely doomed! Run for your lives! The world is ending!

Read on and see where all 32 backup NFL QBs are classified.

Tier 1: This guy will make us better!

Case Keenum -- Is Case Keenum the starter or the backup right now? I don't know, but he showed promise Sunday and ended Houston's pick-six streak. For that accomplishment alone, he deserves another start.

Drew Stanton -- Drew Stanton is not Carson Palmer. Not a lot of analysis needed here.

Jason Campbell -- Jason Campbell is not Brandon Weeden. Not a lot of analysis needed here. But let's throw one Fun Fact out there: Campbell is only one year older than Weeden, but he has thrown for 10,149 more yards than Weeden has.

Thad Lewis -- E.J. Manuel showed some promise before getting hurt, but Lewis is the new hotness. Over the past two weeks, he has a better completion percentage and quarterback rating than Tom Brady, plus more touchdown passes and fewer turnovers. I'll say it again: You can't spell ELITE without ThaddEus LEwIs.

Tier 2: We might not be any worse with this guy!

Anyone who is a backup in Jacksonville, as long as it isn't Blaine Gabbert -- It's time that guy gets a shot. Enough is enough.

Christian Ponder -- Unwanted in Tampa Bay, Josh Freeman is now the man in Minnesota, proving that one man's trash is another man's starting quarterback, especially if the other man owns the Vikings. Becoming the backup could be just what Ponder needs to become popular in Minnesota. "Hey, he took us to the playoffs last year! Give him another chance! We never knew how good we had it!"

Curtis Painter -- Yes, the Giants are so bad this year that Curtis Painter might not make them any worse. Curtis Painter. Look at the mess you've made, Eli Manning. If Steve Smith were here, he'd rub your face in it.

Josh Johnson -- Johnson isn't going to win the Bengals a Super Bowl. But could he throw the ball up in the air in the general vicinity of A.J. Green 10 times a game? Yes. Yes, he could.

Kirk Cousins -- Robert Griffin III has improved the past two weeks, somewhat muting the push to give the starting job to Cousins. But although Washington probably could have some success with Cousins, his elevation to starter would put all of us in the "We're completely doomed" category, thanks to the round-the-clock QUARTERBACK CONTROVERSY coverage that would ensue.

Matt Moore -- Moore has a higher career completion percentage, touchdown-to-interception ratio and quarterback rating than Ryan Tannehill does in his two-year career. There probably already would be a push among Dolphins fans to make Moore the starter if Dolphins fans were a thing that existed.

Shaun Hill -- Hill isn't going to win the Lions a Super Bowl. But could he throw the ball up in the air in the general vicinity of Calvin Johnson 10 times a game? Yes. Yes, he could.

Tyrod Taylor -- Less than a year ago, some Ravens fans were pushing to dump Joe Flacco and make mobile Taylor Baltimore's starter. With the Ravens at 3-4 and Flacco back to being elitely mediocre, don't be surprised if that starts up again soon. "Get rid of him! He's ew-verpaid!"

Tier 3: We're pretty much doomed!

Brock Osweiler -- Osweiler supposedly has some upside, and Denver has a ton of offensive weapons who could help him along. That said, if Peyton Manning is still hogging all of the practice snaps the way he did in Indianapolis, Osweiler would be unprepared to play. And then the calls in Denver for Tim Tebow would begin.

Colt McCoy -- McCoy could win some games with the talent San Francisco has. In fact, he might even win a lot of games and become a star quarterback because that seems like something that would happen to Cleveland.

Dan Orlovsky -- Yes, Tampa Bay's backup is the guy who once ran out of the back of the end zone with the Lions. Yes, Tampa Bay is winless.

Derek Anderson -- Yes the Panthers would be semi-doomed with Anderson at quarterback. Yes, even though Anderson is the second-greatest Browns quarterback of modern times.

Josh McCown -- McCown played fairly well in place of Jay Cutler on Sunday. On the other hand, there's probably a reason the last team he was a No. 1 quarterback for was the Hartford Colonials.

Kyle Orton -- Orton could game-manage the Cowboys to a few victories. In fact, he has a winning record for his career as a starting quarterback. But remember that this is a guy who has been at various times in his career behind both Rex Grossman and Tebow on the depth chart. Those are some fairly large red flags. Red flags visible from space.

Michael Vick/Nick Foles/Matt Barkley -- It's not clear who the starter is and who the backup is in Philadelphia right now. And unfortunately it's like that at most every position. The whole team has a definite second- or third-string feel to it.

Ryan Mallett -- Everyone knows that the greatness of Bill Belichick and the Greatriots is so great that they could still win some games with their backup quarterback, just as they did with Matt Cassel in 2008. You just have to wonder whether New England's receivers would be able to adjust to a new quarterback. We know their current quarterback struggles greatly with new receivers.

Tier 4: We're completely doomed! Run for your lives! The world is ending!

Bruce Gradkowski -- The Steelers don't have enough talent this year to win with a backup. And Gradkowski is no Charlie Batch. He is, however, also from Western Pennsylvania, so at least the Steelers' doom would be locally sourced. That's the most sustainable kind of doom.

Charlie Whitehurst -- Yes, the Chargers would be completely doomed with Whitehurst at quarterback. Yes, I'm a little uncomfortable being down on someone who looks like Jesus.

Chase Daniel -- Good news, Alex Smith. There's no need to look over your shoulder anymore.

Dominique Davis -- Fun Fact: Dominique Davis is a second-year player from East Carolina who is Matt Ryan's backup in Atlanta and not a women's gymnast.

Kellen Clemens -- I put my quarterback evaluation trust in Bernie Kosar, and he's not big on Sam Bradford's replacement in St. Louis, so I'm not, either. (By the way, if the Rams sign Tebow, do they replace the Cardinals as St. Louis' most wholesome team?)

Luke McCown -- He's Drew Brees' backup, and the Saints would be completely doomed if he had to play. The McCown brothers are the Manning brothers, if the Manning brothers were only 2013 Eli.

Matt Hasselbeck -- Hasselbeck is a good backup quarterback. But for him to be playing, Andrew Luck would have to get hurt. Luck getting hurt is definitely worth "we're completely doomed" status. The late-night Jim Irsay tweeting would be quite pathetic.

Matt McGloin -- McGloin is an undrafted rookie who was a walk-on at Penn State. You don't become the Raiders by having a ton of depth at every position.

Matt Simms -- Simms is the Jets' backup. It's good they have a veteran mentor like him around to help Geno Smith develop.

Ryan Fitzpatrick -- Tennessee's playoff hopes will be officially over if Fitzpatrick sees the field again. He has single-handedly reconfirmed everyone's perceptions of "athletes" from Harvard. The Titans would be better off having the Winklevii share snaps than to give the ball to Fitzpatrick.

Seneca Wallace -- Remember when Aaron Rodgers was Brett Favre's backup? Green Bay does not currently have a similar luxury.

Tarvaris Jackson -- Imagine the faces Pete Carroll would make if forced to hand his Super Bowl contender over to Jackson. He might leave Seattle for the USC job.

Quote of the Week

"What I don't like is a young guy, comes in, obviously his first time ever using the Internet and Google, and he Googles information about me, talks about my wife and stuff like that. That's kind of some of the bulls--- I just don't play with." --Steve Smith on his testy matchup with St. Louis Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins

Let it be known to future Panthers opponents: Steve Smith is going to destroy you if you don't pull your trash talk from Bing.

Stat of the Week


The Eagles have lost nine consecutive games at home, the longest home losing streak in franchise history. But although fans in other cities have been in the news for poor behavior, there has been nothing negative out of Philadelphia, even with all of the losing. No cheering injuries. No beatings. No stabbings. No Taser incidents. No beloved holiday icon peltings. The fans even applauded the return of Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid. This means one of three things:

a) Philadelphia fans have turned the corner and no longer deserve their negative reputation. b) They've gone silent because they're planning something big. c) No incidents are being reported because media organizations no longer send reporters to Philadelphia because it's too dangerous.

I choose to believe that it's the first one and that Philadelphia fans no longer deserve their negative reputation. All of the losing has crushed their passion. Don't fear Eagles fans. Pity them. Don't run from them. Hug them. And while hugging them, make sure to pat them down for weapons. You never can be too careful. B and C are still very possible.

This Week's Horrible Fantasy Team That Crushed Your Team

Mike Glennon, QB, Tampa Bay -- 26-for-44, 256 yards, 2 TD

Roy Helu, RB, Washington -- 46 total yards, 3 TD

Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Atlanta -- 62 total yards, 2 TD

Harry Douglas, WR, Atlanta -- 7 catches, 149 yards, TD

Jarrett Boykin, WR, Green Bay -- 8 catches, 103 yards, TD

Jordan Reed, TE, Washington -- 9 catches, 134 yards, TD

Photos of the Week

"Once he gets a glimpse of this face, he'll truly understand how poor that call was."

"Hey, at least you're still starting, unlike my other USC quarterbacks."

"It's OK. I do this to all the rookies."

"Let me add up all the points again. There's no way we lost."

"Just gonna dump this stuff in the nearest trash can and hopefully I can get my old job back."

"Here's an idea: What if instead of helping each other walk, we help Jay walk."

"Are you not entertained? At least more than you would have been by this game?"

"Do you think we're convincing them to not be terrible?" "We don't seem to be, no."

"It's funny to wear the jerseys of a stinky team."

"Yeah, Jerry Jones hasn't been returning my calls, either."

"Don't feel bad. We're a team built to win multiple Super Bowls."

News Conference Questions Someone Should Have Asked

Greg Schiano: "You said this week that your team is going to be really good. Do you have a guesstimate on when that might start?"

Bill Belichick: "In protest of obscure rules affecting the outcome of games, will you now forfeit your 2001 playoff victory over the Raiders?"

Jeff Fisher: "Ohmigod. I heard you guys might sign Tim Tebow now. Ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod."

Reader Twitter Question of the Week

I have no idea. That's the thing about obscure, seldom-enforced rules: Only a few people know about them and they love to enforce them in the final minutes of games.

What I do know is that obscure, seldom-enforced rules are all similar in the same way: If they are called for your team, hey, rules are rules and teams need to be aware of them. Whereas if they are called against your team, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? You're going to call that garbage now? Let the players decide the outcome. The NFL is RIGGED.

Forced Sports/Pop Culture Reference in Hopes of Sounding Cool

Lots of talk about football sons this week, in light of Archie Manning's and Oliver Luck's sons going head-to-head in Indianapolis. Those two are great, not annoying like the daughter on "Homeland" and the son on "The Walking Dead." Oh, and how about that Miley Cyrus, who is the daughter of someone famous who once made a VHS of NFL country songs. How about that movie "Gravity"? Gravity is a thing that brings passes, punts and kicks back to the ground and keeps players affixed to the field. I heard the movie is good.

Five Things I Thought To Think When I Thought of Thinking

1. Even the coldest heart had to enjoy the huge ovation Indianapolis fans gave to Peyton Manning before the Broncos-Colts game kicked off. That said, it's unconscionable that Indianapolis has yet to honor Curtis Painter similarly. For all that Manning did in Indianapolis, it was Painter who put them in position to get Andrew Luck. That's a fact. The Colts should retire his number for all time, or until they need to tank another season in 15 years or so to get the No. 1 pick.

2. The NFL has a problem on its hands. Pat McAfee of the Colts leveled Denver kick returner Trindon Holliday with a helmet-to-helmet hit in the second quarter Sunday night. No penalty was called. Just because kickers and punters are small (and adorable and you can dress them up in little outfits and have tea parties with them) doesn't mean they shouldn't have to follow the same rules as everyone else on the field. Imagine if kickers and punters were allowed to run around on every play trying to blow everyone up. Imagine it. Just imagine. Isn't that a fun visual? Enjoy that for the rest of your day. You're welcome.

Whom would you rather have as your team's quarterback?

DiscussView MapTotal votes: 2278

3. Forty-five days. Houston is a city with three professional sports teams, and it is going to go 45 days between wins from any of them. The Astros last won Sept. 13, then closed with 15 consecutive losses. The Texans are the last Houston team to win, and that came Sept. 15. They've lost five in a row since then and, thanks to a bye week, don't take the field again until Nov. 3 -- and that's against the Colts. Uh-oh. So Oct. 30 is the day to look forward to, Houston sports fans. That is the day the Rockets open the regular season at home against the Charlotte Bobcats. It is a guaranteed win because Charlotte Bobcats. And if Houston loses that game? I don't even know. Do you want a hockey team? Gary Bettman has probably been itching to put a team in Houston.

4. Remember when Bruce Arians said in the offseason that his quarterback room of Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley was "as strong as any in the National Football League"? Well, he's back with a new stand-up special, and this one is even funnier. Here's Mr. Arians talking about how Andrew Luck could be better than Peyton Manning: "Oh, there's no doubt. There's no doubt at all because he's a combination of all the guys I've had. He's cerebral like Peyton. He's athletic and big and strong like Ben [Roethlisberger]. And he's accurate like [Tim] Couch." The fact that Arians hasn't had an HBO special yet is an outrage.

5. Chin up, Patriots. Losing to the Jets and Geno Smith must feel pretty bad, but this is likely the low point in your regular season. In traditional Patriots fashion, you'll right the ship and start playing dominating football down the stretch. That's just how the Patriots do it every year. So, your next really bad game won't come until the playoffs -- and maybe even as late as the Super Bowl!

How They Spent Their Bye Week

Raiders: Giving everyone free wine.

Saints: Observing dumb people in their natural habitat.

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