Vikings quarterback Josh Dobbs
Vikings' Josh Dobbs leaps for a TD | SCREENSHOT: NFL/youtube

Injuries to so many of the NFL’s biggest stars under center have seen some unlikely quarterbacks called on to put out the flames

Anyone who is a fan of the NFL will tell you that the quarterback is the most important position on the football field. He’s the team leader, the captain of the offense, and (let’s face it) the guy who gets the girl in the end. But unfortunately, the 2023 season has seen a lot of starters go down, and some relatively unknown names step in as emergency fill-ins.

Quarterback DeShaun Watson injury
Browns QB DeShaun Watson’s injury | SCREENSHOT: NFL on ESPN/youtube

Through 11 weeks of the NFL season, 48 different quarterbacks have started for the 32 teams, and 10 rookies have gotten the nod to boot. Because of that, we’ve seen a mixture of unsung heroes along with a few talentless hacks. And along the way, it’s added to the story of the season.

With such prominent names as Kirk Cousins, Joe Burrow, Aaron Rodgers, and DeShaun Watson all out for all (or most of) the rest of the year, it’s been a mixed bag in cities where teams expected to contend. And even for starters who haven’t gone down for an extended amount of time, we’ve still a lot of close calls and temporary take-outs.

It has led to five-alarm frustration among The League’s various coaching staffs who can never be sure when the next disaster might happen. But luckily, there have been a handful of heroes who have come to the rescue.

RELATED: Vikings QB Josh Dobbs Says Arizona Cardinals Head Coach LIED Right To His Face

Perhaps the most obvious success story has been the play of Josh Dobbs in Minnesota, who stepped in and played well in the absence of injured Kirk Cousins. He was a mid-season pickup in a trade with Arizona, and he’s shown star potential for the Vikings.

On the flip side, the most glaring failure has come under the bright lights of New York, where Zach Wilson played meagerly after Aaron Rodgers tore his Achilles Tendon in the first series of a promising season. He will be on the bench this week in favor of journeyman and career backup Tim Boyle.

The same situation has popped up now with both Ohio franchises. Cleveland’s DeShaun Watson and Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow both looked poised for a possible playoff push. But now, they’ve both been ruled out for the remainder of the year. In their places, the Browns will go with fifth-round pick Dorian Thompson-Robinson and the Bengals will start Jake Browning, a 27-year-old QB who went undrafted in 2019.

Jets quarterback Zach Wilson | SCREENSHOT: Clip Heaven/youtube

These types of scenarios are why backup quarterbacks have become almost the same kind of commodity as a left-handed pitcher in baseball. They retain value as ‘firemen’ who can put out the flames when it’s third-and-long and things are getting hot.

It’s also a great spot for a young player to show his value and possibly earn a permanent starting spot (and a huge contract elsewhere). Short-term auditions have led such luminaries as Scott Mitchell and Matt Cassell to convince some teams to buy into their brief success.

It’s also why guys like Matt Ryan, Nick Foles, and (dare I say it) Colin Kaepernick stay close to their phones when the NFL season reaches its midway point. Because while the quarterback may be the most important position on the field, it’s also the one that’s most easy to fail at.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson | SCREENSHOT: Cleveland Browns/youtube

That’s why ‘Have arm, will travel‘ could be a motto for all of the 32 franchises. They’re willing to sign anyone with a pulse and a tight spiral if it means two extra victories.

The upside of quarterback injuries in the NFL – if there is one – is that it gives an opportunity for unknowns to excel. It puts players like Josh Dobbs in the spotlight, and it may have shown us that Zach Wilson is likely a draft bust.

At the end of the day, however, they add fuel to the fire that has made the 2023 season red-hot so far, and they give fans plenty to debate about.


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