For many franchises, the backup quarterback is the one who the fans root for to see the field. But for many others, including the Indianapolis Colts, the backup quarterback is the one who the fans least want to see on the field.
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano hopes he doesn't have to see backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck see the field either. But he also likes where the Colts backup quarterback situation lies and he knows the importance of having a backup QB. When asked about how significant it is to have a backup quarterback, Pagano replied: "I mean just look at 2011, you know. If you've got one, I'm not standing here answering this question right now. Fair enough?"
Of course, what Pagano is alluding to is the Colts 2011 season, the year before Pagano arrived, in which the failure to have an adequate backup quarterback option (Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter, etc.) led to the Colts going a league-worst 2-14 in 2011. As a result, Andrew Luck, Chuck Pagano, and Ryan Grigson all arrived in Indianapolis. While that certainly seems like a good thing while looking back on it, we must realize that on the flip side it led to Bill Polian, Jim Caldwell, and a number of players being fired. So Chuck Pagano understands the importance of getting a backup quarterback - and he thinks that the Colts have a good one.
"It's a great luxury," Pagano said. "Matt's obviously taken a team to a Super Bowl. He's got a ton of snaps under his belt, a ton of confidence. He's a great leader. Still can throw it, still can make all the throws. So having a guy like that as your backup, we certainly know that we can still, if we've got to use him, we can still go win football games with Matt Hasselbeck."
I love the sentiment. And I absolutely agree that Matt Hasselbeck has had a very good NFL career and I think he's one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league. But first of all, Hasselbeck was signed to a 2-year, $7.25 million contract - for a guy who hopefully never plays. The contract was too much, but that's not even the main focus here. The main focus is that while Pagano's comments suggest confidence in Hasselbeck stepping in if need be, if the situation arises it would be the worst case scenario for the Colts and they wouldn't be going anywhere.
If Andrew Luck gets injured, the Colts aren't going to win. It's just that simple. The general opinion around the league is that the Colts aren't a great team but that they have a great quarterback, and that feeling is accurate. While if Hasselbeck had been playing for the Colts in 2011 they would have won more than two games, the Colts still wouldn't be going much of anywhere with him as their quarterback for any extended period of time.
Basically, here's the deal - if Andrew Luck misses any significant amount of time, the Colts aren't going anywhere. Instead, Matt Hasselbeck would step in and win a few games, but that's about it. While Chuck Pagano's comments about the backup quarterback spot sound good, I think he knows just as well as we do that it wouldn't be good at all for the backup to play.