While backup spots seem unimportant, never sleep on how key a backup quarterback can be.
The Bengals learned that the hard way in 2015, when Dalton went down with a broken thumb while leading one of the NFL’s best offenses. While AJ McCarron flashed at times, he will still a big step back from what Dalton was doing that offense.
Still, McCarron was able to keep the Bengals afloat and nearly lead them to a playoff win. However, the Bengals lost McCarron this offseason to free agency, leaving them without their backup quarter of the past four seasons.
The Bengals did end up signing Matt Barkley to a small deal, but that came in part because there wasn’t another healthy quarterback on the roster other than Dalton.
That’s because Jeff Driskel broke his arm in the final week of practice in the regular season. He injured it while lining up at wide receiver during practice and injured his non-throwing arm to the extent that surgery was required to fix the damage.
Driskell does expect to be cleared in time for on-field drills that begin in May. If he can stay healthy, he’s shown a lot of promise in the preseason. He also spent the entire 2016 season as the Bengals’ No. 3 quarterback, so he has plenty of familiarly with the system.
Still, the veteran Barkley figures to be the No. 2 quarterback when the 2018 season begins. He has spent the majority of his career as a backup rarely seeing the field, but he did have a brief stretch as the Bears’ starter in 2016.
In seven games that season (6 starts), Barkley completed 129 of 216 passes for 1,611 yards, eight touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
For his career, Barkley has completed 159 of 266 passes (59.8%) for 1,911 yards (7.2 avg) and eight scores vs 18 interceptions.
But while Barkley and Driskel have experience, don’t count out rookie Logan Woodside. The seventh-round pick out of Toledo enjoyed a standout college career. He was also one of the most accurate passers coming into this draft.
Woodside was even someone the Bengals considered trading up for, but it’s still hard to see a rookie being a backup on a Marvin Lewis-led team.
When it’s all said and done, who will be backing up Dalton when Week 1 rolls around?
Who will be the Bengals’ backup QB in 2018?
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