Under Pressure – QB Edition


In the Quarterback edition of Under Pressure, I take a look at three QBs who could finish as the backup by the end of the 2020 season. 


A lot has happened at Washington Football Club in the offseason – including the team dropping their nickname, controversial revelations about events behind the scenes, and the recent events involving Derrius Guice

And, although admittedly nowhere near as serious as those events just mentioned, there could be upheaval in the Quarterback department as well. Last season, the Washington saw a dreadful run of form. Case Keenum was dropped after the team flopped to a 1-7 record, leaving Dwayne Haskins to take on Quarterback duties for the remainder of the season.  

And, in the seven games he started for Washington, Haskins performed reasonably well. He picked up seven touchdowns and only three interceptions. Although none of the touchdowns came during the teams two victories in his tenure at QB1, he still had a role to play during those games. 

Haskins’ improved performances saw Keenum move on after just one season at Washington, and it put the rookie in the driving seat for his sophomore year. However, the arrival of Kyle Allen may put a spanner in the works. 


Allen was traded from Carolina to Washington in March in exchange for a fifth round pick. This reunited him with Rivera, who had gotten the job in January. And his signing has immediately put him into the competition for the starting Quarterback position. And, like Haskins, Allen was also bumped up to the starting position during the 2019 season.

When Cam Newton was forced out through injury, it was up to Allen to take the reigns at the Panthers. And he actually won his first five games as an NFL starter, throwing nine touchdowns and no interceptions (one game in 2018; four in 2019). It was an NFL first. 

But Allen’s final stat line clearly showed that his season came in two halves. Those first four victories of the 2019 season gave way to a dismaying collapse. Carolina won only one game after the bye week, and Allen ended up throwing 16 interceptions across the remaining 10 games. The Panthers ended up on 5-11.


While it is likely that Haskins will hold onto the number 1 spot for now, it is important to remember that Rivera brought Allen over from the Panthers to join him in Washington. They have the experience of working together, and Rivera actually played Allen over a third round draft pick (Will Grier) for much of the season. This makes the Quarterback situation at this club particularly interesting. Without a pre-season schedule, who gets the nod is in Haskins’ hands. It is his role to lose, and Allen is the outsider coming in to take it. 

Now, Alex Smith should get mentioned at this point. The Quarterback had a long road to recovery after his surgery complications. Despite the huge setback and the prospect of retirement, Smith himself has said that he wants to continue playing football. And as it stands, he has been cleared by his doctors for football activities. For Smith, this is a crucial step towards playing again. So, although he starts the season on the PUP list, there is still a small chance that he could feature this season. 

But if the scenario comes down to just Haskins and Allen, there is one of two outcomes. One is that Haskins holds the job and does his best in the situation. The other is that he stumbles and Allen eats into his share. Either way, I don’t believe Haskins produces the numbers that fantasy players are looking for, even as a QB2 in SF leagues. As such, he should only be considered as a last resort. 

But, if this falter happens early enough, then I advise those players who took him should cut their losses and look elsewhere. 


Tyrod saw even less time than both Allen and Haskins last season. The Chargers’ backup QB got only 31 snaps over the season. More than half of those came in one game, where the Chargers were trouncing the Jaguars 38-10. Taylor actually added another touchdown in the 4th quarter of that match to widen the deficit.

Rivers has now moved on to the Colts, and has left Taylor behind to hold the fort. At least, that was the case until the Chargers took Justin Herbert as the sixth overall pick in this most recent draft. A very large signal of intent if ever there was one. 


One aspect that may well benefit Taylor in this situation is that he has plenty of game time behind him. He virtually had three full seasons being the Bills Quarterback several years ago. His stats show a decent return behind the Buffalo line. 

But a move to Cleveland saw him drop behind Number 1 pick Baker Mayfield, and he was relegated to only four games during 2018. The next year gave even fewer behind Rivers at the Chargers. But he was with the team all last season, which is another advantage he may have over Herbert. He knows the system. He’s worked with these players before. 

On the other hand, both of the Quarterbacks in question could have used the pre-season schedule. It would have helped develop their on-field relationships with their players. Taylor only saw action in a few games, but that will still give him the advantage in this area. But it would have been useful for both of them. 


Where Herbert does have the advantage is that it has been less time since he was consistently starting and playing in big football games. The rookie Quarterback saw 14 college games last season. He helped lead the Oregon Ducks to a 10-2 regular season record and the Pac-12 Championship. The successful campaign finished with a New Year’s Day Rose Bowl win where Herbert ran in three touchdowns of his own. 

Compare that to Taylor, who has had snippets of games here and there for the last two years. You can see why there’s more of a split in opinion over who should start. 

Many outlets, including the official NFL fantasy website, have the Quarterbacks placed equally on their projections. Based upon news out of the Chargers camp, and judging by where Herbert was taken in the draft, it is likely that the veteran will be starting the season, only for the rookie to take over later on. 

As such, if you have any available space, stashing Herbert away may help you avoid having to battle for him later on in the season. 


Our third contender under pressure is tired of getting disrespected. Derek Carr came out with the statement in response to a question about opting out for this season. 

The Raiders Quarterback said he had a lot to prove to himself and others and opting out wasn’t even an option for him. And it is hard to disagree with him. Previously, Carr has had a variety of backup Quarterbacks sitting in second place. Nobody has come close to usurping Derek’s position as the Raiders’ QB1. But Marcus Mariota may have something to say about that this season. 


Mariota started off full of promise for the Tennessee Titans. The second overall pick in 2015, the Oregon recruit saw his stock rise in his first two years. However, after a peak season in 2016, the form began to drop. Marcus didn’t give the same production he achieved in 2016 with the Titans and was benched after a poor start to the 2019 season. Ryan Tannehill took his place and the rest was logged in the history books. 

His move to the Raiders actually has him designated as Carr’s backup. But Carr has never had a backup like Mariota before. A player who has seen several years of starting action and has the ability to make an impact at a new team. Not to mention that Head Coach Jon Gruden had many positive things to say about Mariota before he was drafted. And General Manager Mike Mayock actually ranked Mariota ahead of Jameis Winston in his 2015 draft picks. 

So it seems that Mariota has some fans in the management already, which could ring alarm bells for Carr.


However, Carr’s stats do show a steady upwards development over the last few years. His completion rate, passing yards, average yards per reception and Quarterback rating were the highest they have been in his career so far. There has been clear improvement since Gruden’s arrival. 

And this lockdown may have also helped with Carr’s status on the team. Mariota has it all to do, whereas Carr has been there since Gruden took over. So it is likely that the incumbent Quarterback will at least be in the driving seat to begin with. And, if he can continue that upwards curve that he started last season, then it will be time to give him his respect. 

If not, then Mariota is just behind him – a management favourite that is ready to step in if needed. 

Carr isn’t even featuring on the 12 team PPR ADP at the moment, but on the 2-QB ADP list, he comes in at an early 9th round pick. So he is a viable member of the team for many Superflex rosters. So, if Mariota does end up taking a leap and becomes the Raider QB1, it could have an effect on your squad during the season. Keep this in mind, and watch Carr’s performances to know if you need to get Mariota locked down!

Until then, Rush Nation,

Keep Rushing!

Rob @CowsillRob


Other Articles

Recent Articles
lock it down- Week Ten WR/CB matchups
Recent Articles
The Presidents Trophy - Team USA