In the second installment of our popular NFL Week here at The Sports Debates, is a debate about NFL insurance. Welcome to the debate about the most popular guy in town, the backup quarterback.
Of course, some second string quarterbacks are popular because they are actually talented – even more talented than the starters in some rare cases. At least, that is the situation according to fans. Usually it is the fans that drive the popularity of the backup and try and force the coaches to make a switch at starter. And, none of that would be necessary if a team was winning. It’s only when a team is losing, or when a starter gets hurt, that the backup signal caller even matters.
The San Diego Chargers likely do not have to worry about the losing part. But, it seems as though the team would be in trouble if starter Phillip Rivers got hurt. That’s why it is a good thing the team has the BEST quarterback insurance policy, backup quarterback Billy Volek.
Now, before I completely convince you that Volek is the NFL’s best backup quarterback, let’s all acknowledge and chuckle about the fact that a grown man, even a professional athlete, still goes by “Billy.” Not Bill, Will, William, or any other possible derivation where folks can safely assume he is over the age of eight. But, the jokes possible about his name aside, he is one heck of a talented and proven backup.
Do not be distracted by his 3-7 all time record as a starter in the NFL. I could launch into a very convincing 18 page article about the details of Volek’s career and the total points his team’s defense, then the Tennessee Titans, surrendered during his starts that reflect so poorly on his record (219 in ten games… ouch). But, let’s face it, that article would only entertain Billy’s parents. (See? He sounds eight.)
We know that Volek cannot play defense, but we also know that he can put up big time passing numbers with the best starters in the NFL.
For example, Volek has a career completion percentage of 60 percent. He has thrown 27 touchdowns against just 15 picks. A Kerry Collins injury with the Tennessee Titans in 2004 paved the way for Volek to get his first true shot at being a starter in the league. The 2-6 record was not that outstanding, but he did complete over 61 percent of his passes and threw for 2,486 yards in just eight games. He threw eight more touchdowns than interceptions. While not known as the most fleet of foot quarterback in the game, he managed to gain a net positive in yards for the 204 season with 50 (despite being sacked a bunch), and he even had a touchdown to go with it.
Here is my favorite Volek stat – he was ninth in the NFL in passing yards per game in 2004 despite starting only eight games, then playing in two more he did not start. He averaged 248.6 yards per contest without being a full time starter on a team with some seriously questionable offensive talent.
The consistency and stats all add up to one conclusion – if given the chance, Billy Volek can lead an offense to score some big time points. Volek still has a lot to prove, but he has at least showed ability when he gets his opportunities.
My colleagues will argue in favor of players like Tavaris Jackson and a completely unproven Jimmy Clausen. Heck, Bleacher Fan even first called Rex Grossman before finally switching to Jackson. Jackson had his chance and could not get the job done. Clausen admittedly has not had a chance yet, but if I coached the Panthers with Clausen as my backup option, would I feel comfortable? No way.
Billy Volek is the league’s best B squad quarterback, and the Chargers have loaded up on some great insurance.