We have seen plenty of backup NFL quarterbacks have to take snaps through six weeks of the 2023 NFL season. Whether it is because of injuries or poor performance, some may see more playing time than expected.
In Week 6, we saw former backup quarterbacks Zach Wilson and P.J. Walker take down the last two undefeated teams.
Who is worth keeping an eye on going forward? Here are some backup quarterbacks to watch.
1. Gardner Minshew
Arguably the biggest name to keep an eye on this list is Gardner Minshew. Given Anthony Richardson’s health status, there is a good chance that Minshew may be the quarterback going forward for the Indianapolis Colts.
While Minshew does not quite have the mobility that Richardson has, the offense does not slow down much. This year, Minshew has three touchdown passes, 882 passing yards, and a 65.2 completion percentage in two starts.
He will have a big test next week. Minshew faces one of the league’s best defenses in the Cleveland Browns.
2. Will Levis
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The 2023 second-round pick out of Kentucky has not played a single snap yet for the Tennessee Titans. However, that may change due to a recent quarterback injury.
Last week, Ryan Tannehill suffered a high ankle sprain during the loss vs. the Baltimore Ravens. Tannehill’s status is up in the air moving forward.
When Tannehill went down last year, it was Malik Willis who stepped in. However, his performance left something to be desired.
Willis had a hard time avoiding sacks. He was sacked four times during the game and 44.44% of the time when attempting passes. Last year, he did not have a single touchdown pass in three starts. Plus, he had three interceptions.
Luckily for the Titans, they do have a bye week coming up to determine what to do about the quarterback position. However, if Tannehill does not recover fast enough for the Week 8 game vs. the Atlanta Falcons, there may be a chance that we see Will Levis’ pro debut.
3. Zach Wilson
Despite Zach Wilson starting most of this season for the New York Jets, he was originally the backup quarterback. However, that changed rapidly when Aaron Rodgers suffered a torn left Achilles just four snaps into the 2023 season.
Since then, it has been up to Wilson to save this season. During the opening game, the Jets somehow escaped with a 22-16 overtime win against the Buffalo Bills. However, they lost their next two games and scored just 10 points in each of those losses.
In the last three games, Wilson has shown signs of improvement. He has thrown more passing yards in each of these games plus has two touchdown passes.
Best of all, he is being more careful throwing the football. Wilson has just one interception in the last three games. He had four interceptions in his first three games.
If he can keep treading water, it can even lead to a miraculous return from Aaron Rodgers.
4. Taylor Heinicke
This last one comes down to how close the Atlanta Falcons come to making the playoffs. Right now, they are in a competitive NFC South division.
At the rate they are going, it could come down to the final weeks for the division title or even a final wild card spot. If the current trends keep up, Falcons fans could question if it is worth having quarterback Desmond Ridder finish the 2023 season as the starter.
Admittedly, his touchdown ratio and passing yards per game are both improving this season. However, he still only averages one touchdown pass per game, and he also averages one interception per game.
Heinicke is a veteran quarterback who has a playoff start under his belt. Back then, he played for Washington.
During the 2021 Wild Card round, he had to lead Washington against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Those Buccaneers went on to win the Super Bowl. Despite this, Heinicke had 306 passing yards and a touchdown pass.
If Ridder continues to put up underwhelming numbers, it may be worth a discussion to start Taylor Heinicke in a big game.
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