History Of Backup QBs In Playoffs Says Raiders & Dolphins Are In Trouble

Matthew Jordan

Friday, January 6, 2017 3:10 PM UTC

Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 3:10 PM UTC

We will see something fairly unprecedented in the NFL's wild-card weekend: three backup quarterbacks starting. Recent history has shown that teams starting their No. 2 (or No. 3) signal-callers are probably going to lose their first postseason game.

This century, teams are 2-7 when starting a backup quarterback in the playoffs. The Oakland Raiders are going with third-stringer Connor Cook in Saturday's game at Houston, with the Texans as 3.5-point favorites on NFL odds. Cook is a rookie fourth-round pick out of Michigan State who wasn't even active for the first time this season until Week 17. He will become the first QB whose initial NFL start comes in the playoffs. Technically, Houston is starting backup QB Brock Osweiler in the same game, but for the sake of argument I'm not considering him the No. 2 because Osweiler started the first 15 games of the season. He's in because Tom Savage is recovering from a concussion.

On Sunday, the Miami Dolphins are +10 on NFL picks at Pittsburgh, and the Fins are going with veteran journeyman backup Matt Moore, who has never appeared in a postseason game. Moore started the final three games of the season because of a knee injury to Ryan Tannehill.

Here are how the previous nine backup quarterbacks this century fared in the playoffs:

A.J. McCarron, 2015 Bengals: Andy Dalton got hurt late last season, so McCarron got the call in the wild-card round at home against Pittsburgh, which was a slight betting favorite. McCarron was 23-for-41 for 212 yards with a TD and interception in an 18-16 loss. It really wasn't his fault that the Bengals were beaten as two Cincinnati defensive players committed stupid personal foul penalties late in the game that led to the winning Pittsburgh field goal.

Ryan Lindley, 2014 Cardinals: With starter Carson Palmer and backup Drew Stanton out, third-stringer Lindley got the call at Carolina. He was terrible, going 16-for-28 for 82 yards with a TD and two picks in Arizona's 27-16 loss. The Cards had just 78 total yards, an NFL low for a playoff game.

Joe Webb, 2012 Vikings: Christian Ponder was hurt so Webb, who hasn't thrown an NFL pass since, was 11-for-30 for 180 yards with a TD and pick in a 24-10 playoff loss in Green Bay.

T.J. Yates, 2011 Texans: Yates at least had five  regular-season starts for Houston in the 2011 season with Matt Schaub hurt/terrible. Yates, who is now Moore's backup on the Dolphins, was one of the few backup QBs to lead a win, completing 11-for-20 for 159 yards and a TD in a 31-10 victory over Cincinnati. The next week, however, he completed 17-for-35 for 184  yards and three interceptions in a loss to Baltimore.

Tarvaris Jackson, 2008 Vikings: Gus Frerotte started 11 regular-season games for Minnesota and Jackson five. He got the call in the postseason against Philadelphia and was 15-for-35 for 164 yards and a pick in a 26-14 loss to Philadelphia.

Todd Collins, 2007 Redskins: Collins started three games during the season with Jason Campbell the other 13. Collins started at Seattle in the wild-card round and threw for 266 yards and two scores but it took him 50 passes and he also was picked off twice in a 35-14 loss.

Rex Grossman, 2005 Bears: Kyle Orton started 15 games and Grossman one, but he was the guy in the divisional round at home vs. Carolina. The Bears lost 29-21 as Grossman completed just 41.5 percent of his passes for 192 yards, a TD and an interception.

Kelly Holcomb, 2002 Browns: Wow, now we are getting deep into the past if Cleveland was in the playoffs. Holcomb had started only two regular-season games -- Tim Couch the other 14 -- and in a 36-33 wild-card loss in Pittsburgh, Holcomb was pretty good, going 26-for-43 for 429 yards, three TDs and a pick. Maybe the sad-sack Browns should bring him back?

Aaron Brooks, 2000 Saints: Jeff Blake started 11 regular-season games and Brooks the final five. And Brooks, who became a pretty good player for a couple of years, led a 31-28 playoff-opening win over the St. Louis Rams by throwing for 266 yards and four scores. But the Saints lost the next week 34-16 in Minnesota as Brooks was picked off twice.

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