2017: The Year of the Backup QB

“Nick Foles has been named the MVP is Super Bowl LII” is a sentence that I never saw myself typing, yet here we are. A backup quarterback has just won the Super Bowl. This should be surprising, but if we take a look back at 2017, this isn’t really that surprising at all.

Let’s start in Minnesota. Sam Bradford went down after just one game, and the young prodigy Teddy Bridgewater had yet to fully recover from a previous injury. In steps Case Keenum, leading the Vikings to the NFC Championship and having easily the best season of his career.

In Houston, Tom Savage had been penciled in as the starter. After a poor performance, backup rookie phenom Deshaun Watson entered to replace him. Over the next few weeks, he would put together a campaign worthy of Rookie of the Year, until he tragically fell victim to injury.

In San Francisco, the 49ers were unable all season to get anything going. The Niners needed a spark, and that came in a trade for New England backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who led a then 1-10 team to an unprecedented five straight victories to end the season,

Heck, we can even look to the College Football National Championship. After a poor start from Alabama QB Jalen Hurts, Nick Saban made the move to put in backup true freshman QB Tua Tagovailoa. Naturally, Tua led the Crimson Tide to a come-from-behind victory to bring yet another championship home to Tuscaloosa.

Now, these aren’t stories that we haven’t heard before. In 2001, Drew Bledsoe was the starting QB when a hard hit knocked him down. In came an untested sixth-round pick from Michigan, and the world was introduced to Tom Brady. Joe Montana suffered an injury in the 1991 preseason, setting the stage for Steve Young, who would end up bringing three titles to San Francisco. In Green Bay, fans worried that that their winning days were over as the Brett Favre era came to an end in 2008. Little did they know that a future multi-season NFL MVP had been on their bench all along.

While these stories aren’t unfamiliar, the level of success from so many backup and untested quarterbacks that we saw this season was unlike any other season in NFL history. It sets the stage for all fans, even those who root for poor-performing teams, to be optimistic about the future of this league and their favorite franchise. It’s a reminder that any given Sunday, anything can happen, and that the NFL is never short on talent.

Congratulations to the Philadelphia Eagles on their big win. It helped put the icing on the cake for the greatest storyline of the season, the backup quarterback finishing on top. That said, I have a feeling that Nick Foles’ job title won’t be “backup quarterback” for too much longer.

Sam Smith

Sam has been with MSB since 2015. He covers stories ranging from all things Maryland to breaking national stories, specializing in the NFL, and college football and basketball. He currently resides in Dallas, Texas, where he attends Southern Methodist University (SMU).

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