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Podcast: Are we looking at the value of the backup QB all wrong?

The Unseen Impact of QB2

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals Training Camp The Enquirer-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll admit it.

I have never put a high value on the backup quarterback position. I prescribed to former Colts’ offensive coordinator Tom Moore’s theory of backup quarterbacks. He was once asked why they didn’t give Peyton Manning’s backup more reps. I’ll have to clean it up in order for the good people at Cincy Jungle and SB Nation to allow me to publish this, but essentially he said that they didn’t have a chance without Manning, and they weren’t going to practice for a that situation.

I like the Trevor Siemian signing. It was a skill upgrade and brings starting experience to the backup role. But my overall reaction was something like The Chainsmokers lyric, “Hey. tell your friends it was nice to meet them, but I hope I never see them again.”

The backup quarterback should be the most popular guy in town. Everybody knows who he is, but he never has a chance to let you down.

I live in New England, and I can tell you that Drew Bledsoe and Tom Brady backup Scott Zolak are still the life of the party all these years later. He’s got a nice radio gig, does play-by-play, and is beloved by fans.

I grew up in Minnesota, watching Brad Johnson doing PSAs about wearing bike helmets for years before he got shot to throw deep balls to Randy Moss and Cris Carter on Sundays.

But have I undervalued the position?

Some of the other notable backup quarterbacks from my youth were Frank Reich, Doug Pederson, and Jason Garrett, all at one time NFL head coaches. Later, I remember J.T. O’Sullivan and Dan Orlovsky, both of whom now make money breaking down football.

This thought struck me because in multiple recent interviews Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan has talked about the value of the backup quarterback position off the field. He is another set of eyes. He is someone the starting quarterback trusts for information. Between Callahan, head coach and former quarterback Zac Taylor, and quarterback coach Dan Pitcher, they’ve got a lot of quarterback experience already, but Siemian adds one more set of eyes in the film room and on the sideline.

So maybe that is why so many backup quarterbacks find their way to head coaching positions. Maybe that is why Jim Harbaugh and Kliff Kingsbury rose through the ranks so fast, and Josh McCown is considered a rising star.