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BREAKING DOWN THE NFC EAST BACKUP QBs: WHICH TEAMS CAN SURVIVE WITHOUT THEIR STARTERS?

It's inevitable, some starting QBs will get hurt during the season. If they go out for the year most teams are sunk. However, if a starter is only going to miss a few weeks, the quality of the backup QB becomes very important. So which teams are in the best shape to make it through a stint with a backup QB?


We'll rank all the teams in the division based on how screwed they are if their backup has to play 3-7 games.


DALLAS COWBOYS

Cooper Rush


Cooper Rush looking into the stands

Cooper Rush has had to step in before. In 2021 he led the Cowboys to a 20-16 win over the Vikings in Minnesota, going 24-40 for 325 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. In 2022 his workload increased as he was called on to start 5 games, leading the Cowboys to a 4-1 record over that stretch.


There's good reason for the Cowboys to have hope if Rush is forced to step in for Dak. This will be his 7th season in Dallas, so he's been a consistent presence. He has a 60.6% completion percentage for his career with 8 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.


Another important aspect of how well a team can weather time with a backup starting is whether they have a strong enough team to win with average or below-average QB play. The Cowboys offense doesn't have a lot of pieces who can take over, but they do have a defense capable of winning games. They can turn people over and keep games low-scoring at times.


So how screwed are the Cowboys if Rush starts 3-8 games?

MILDLY SCREWED



NEW YORK GIANTS

Drew Lock


Drew Lock smiling at a press conference

Who knows, by the time the season starts we may be swapping this picture out for Daniel Jones. But for now, we'll ignore the possibility of a quarterback controversy and focus on the man who's making his third stop in the NFL.


Drew Lock left the Seahawks via free agency and signed with the Giants in the offseason. The largest sample for Lock came in 2020 when he played in 13 games for the Broncos, going 3-10 in those games. That season he had a tepid 57.3 completion percentage with 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. In four appearances with the Seahawks last season he completed 63.2% of his passes and had 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.


Lock certainly has upside, with a big arm and some ability to be evasive with his feet. But he hasn't proven he can be an effective NFL quarterback to this point. What about the team surrounding him?


There's good coaching in NY, so that can help. The line is improved and they brought in Malik Neighbors to give them a true number one receiver. Whether or not Neighbors can be good enough to pick up a QB is TBD. The defense will be good on the line, but the secondary is a question and it's doubtful they'll be able to win games without some offensive production.


So how screwed are the Giants if Lock starts 3-8 games?

ONLY SLIGHTLY MORE SCREWED THAN THEY ARE IF DANIEL JONES PLAYS EVERY GAME



PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

KENNY PICKETT


Kenny Pickett at a press conference

It's hard to be bullish on Kenny Pickett after watching him play in Pittsburgh the last two years. He rolled up a 14-10 record, but there was a lot of luck involved last year. At the same time, Pittsburgh didn't have a stellar offensive line and they had Matt Canada calling plays for a good chunk of that time.


In Philly, they're excited about what Pickett brings to the table and certainly don't think the Eagles are screwed if he has to play. And it's fair to question how good Jalen Hurts is after his meltdown at the end of last season. Chances are he gets healthy and plays much better, but it's worth watching.


The good news is that the Eagles are set up to weather a backup QB better than any other team in the division. Even with the departure of Jason Kelce the Eagles will have one of the best offensive lines in the league. They picked up Saquon Barkley who should be able to have some big games behind that line. A good running game will open up space for receivers like Brown, Smith, and Goedert. The defense has been shored up in Philly as well. Kenny Pickett won't have to be great to keep this team winning.


So how screwed are the Eagles if Pickett starts 3-8 games?

BARELY SCREWED



WASHINGTON COMMANDERS

MARCUS MARIOTA


Marcus Mariota rolling out at practice

The hope of the Commanders' season rests on Jayden Daniels being great in his first year. This team has a porous offensive line, a weak defensive front, and don't blow you away anywhere else on the field. On top of that, they brought in a bland defensive mind at head coach in Dan Quinn.


Marcus Mariota is fine. His career stats are respectable. He's kept teams competitive in the past. But in this case, none of that matters. With an average to below average QB this is a 5 win team. They need Daniels to be well above average if they want to fight for the wildcard.


So how screwed are the Commanders if Mariota starts 3-8 games?

TOTALLY SCREWED

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