Top 5 greatest backup QB’s of all time

December 14, 2011

Game Recaps

We could sit around all day and worry about all of the quarterback controversies in the league right now. Vince Young getting playing time in leu of Michael Vick, Tim Tebow taking over for an ineffective Kyle Orton (Not to mention going 6-1 as a starter, the comeback king), and of course Peyton Manning going down with neck surgery giving starts to Curtis Painter and Chris Orlovsky are just a few of the terrible, and not so terrible QB switches this year. I don’t even want to talk about Donovan McNabb coming in as a backup…

Let’s go back in time for a list of the Top 5 greatest backups ever.

5. Jim Plunkett
jim plunkett

So, you get thrown into the mix after your starter goes down. What do you do?! Well, Jim Plunkett decided to win the Super Bowl, twice. Playing college ball at Stanford and winning the Heisman, Plunkett still didn’t seem like he was going to make it as a professional QB. But in 1980 he got another shot at glory with the Raiders when Dan Pastorini broke his leg. The aged Plunkett, at 33 years old, performed terribly in his first appearance in 1980. That didn’t slow him down, though. As a starter in 1980, Plunkett held a record of 9-2 with 165 passes completed (out of 320) and 18 Touchdowns. That doesn’t sound like much, but don’t forget that in that time, offenses were very run-hungry. That season, Plunkett led the Raiders to win all 3 playoff appearances and the Super Bowl. Not bad for a backup.

That’s not all. By 1983, he was on the bench as a backup. And AGAIN he had to take over the reins, and AGAIN he took his team to the Superbowl. And won.

4. Steve Young
steve young
In 1992, a guy by the name of Joe Montana was down from a tendon injury the season before, giving the starting job to Steve Young. Yound led the 49ers to a 14-2 record, throwing for 25 touchdowns on 3,456 yards and a 107.0 passer rating. He also took the award for NFL MVP. In ’93, the 9-ers traded Montana to the Chiefs, and Young got the full time starting job. That season, Young threw for 4,023 yards and pulled in a passer rating of 101.5.

And the next season he won the Super Bowl.

3. Tom BradyTom Brady

Most recognized by our generation, is Tom Brady. And most importantly, many have forgotten that he was Drew Bledsoe’s backup in 2001. Brady took over in week 3 after Bledsoe went down. Brady took his team to the Super Bowl that year in a huge upset in the “Greatest Show on Turf” against the St. Louis Rams. I don’t even need to go into stats here. The guy is arguably the best QB currently playing in the NFL.

2. Earl Morrall
earl morrall

If you don’t know why the 1972 Miami Dolphins are famous, you shouldn’t call yourself a football fan. The ’72 Dolphins went undefeated and won the Super Bowl. Even more amazing, is that 11 of the 17 games were started by backup QB Earl Morrall.

But that wasn’t the first time Morrall had come in as a backup to do incredible things. In 1968 he filled in for none other than Johnny Freaking Unitas to lead the Colts to a 13-1 record and a Super Bowl appearance. Then he filled in for Unitas again two years later—this time winning Super Bowl V against the Cowboys.

1. Kurt Warner
kurt warner

Kurt Warner is kind of like the unsung hero of backup NFL QB’s. He spent 3 years between the Arena Football League and NFL Europe. Finally in 1998, he was able to secure a 3rd string slot for the St. Louis Rams. Considering he came from NFL Europe, that was pretty damn cool.

Everything only gets better for Kurt. in ’99 the Rams moved Trent Green to the starting slot, and Warner to the 2nd. After Green tore his ACL during pre-season, Warner got the job. And oh did he work.

Warner threw for 4,353 yards, 41 touchdown passes, and 13 wins. Then he won the Superbowl by throwing two touchdowns with a record 414 yards, and attempting 45 passes without an interception.

Over the course of 12 months, Kurt Warner went from 3rd string bench-warmer to Super Bowl MVP. Definitely winning the slot for best backup of all time.

See the Top 9 Here

Images via:,


About Ronnie Adkins

Founder: The Burgundy Warpath Feature Author: Hogs Haven

View all posts by Ronnie Adkins


Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: