Back-up quarterbacks could play pivotal role

Tonight marks the return of the 800-pound sporting gorilla that is the NFL as the Dallas Cowboys go up against the defending Super Bowl champion N.Y. Giants.
To be honest with you, I would like to get up on my soapbox and rant away in this column about how the far more entertaining brand of football from south of the border actually started this past weekend with the return of U.S. college football.
However, I already know that I’m in the vast minority when it comes to those who enjoy the professional ranks, so I’ll keep my comments about that for another occasion and embrace the homogenized version of the sport for this week.
But instead of doing an in-depth preview, complete with a horribly wrong prediction for the upcoming season, I’ve decided instead to take a look at what I believe is the most important position for all 32 teams.
The back-up quarterback.
Before you throw this article into the recycling bin, let me try to explain myself.
While the saying goes “Defence wins championships,” when it comes down to it in this current pass-happy era of football, the key to any sustained success comes down to who is leading the team on offence.
And while a heavy focus is given to the depth at running back, given how many injuries can take place during the course of the season, the fortunes of an entire team can change if the starting quarterback is out of commission, which is what happened to the Indianapolis Colts last year.
So without further ado, here’s a look at the players you might need to know in the coming weeks, especially if your fantasy football team gets off to an awful start:
•Arizona—Kevin Kolb and Ryan Lindley (Kolb was brought in to be the starter of the future for the Cardinals a couple of years ago. Now, he’s the back-up to John Skelton);
•Atlanta—Dominique Davis and Luke McCown (Luke McCown is still in the league? Colour me surprised).
•Baltimore—Tyrod Taylor (He was decent at Virginia Tech. All I can really say about the guy).
•Buffalo—Tarvaris Jackson and Tyler Thigpen (How both of these guys are still in the league is beyond me. Well, that and the fact that Ryan “Mr. Harvard” Fitzpatrick is a starter).
•Carolina—Derek Anderson and Jimmy Clausen (Prior to last season, I tried to convince my brother that Clausen would be a much better starter for his team than Cam Newton. A year later, it’s safe to say that he got the last laugh).
•Chicago—Jason Campbell (The NFL can be a cruel business. Last year, Campbell led Oakland to a 4-2 start before suffering an injury. And look where he is now).
•Cincinnati—Bruce Gradkowski (Being a Bengals’ fan, I’m really hoping that second-year starter Andy Dalton stays healthy. However, our back-up does have an awesome last name).
•Cleveland—Thaddeus Lewis and Colt McCoy (Poor Colt. In the span of a couple of seasons, he’s gone from a living legend with the Texas Longhorns to being the back-up of the modern-day Chris Weinke in rookie Brandon Weeden).
•Dallas—Kyle Orton (While he does get a bit of flack, I would rather have Orton on my roster than some of the others mentioned thus far).
•Denver—Caleb Hanie and Brock Osweiler (That sound you hear is every Bronco fan hoping that Peyton Manning’s neck holds up).
•Detroit—Shaun Hill and Kellen Moore (At the end of his four years at Boise State, Moore was second all-time in NCAA history for career touchdowns, fifth in total passing yards, and had a 50-3 record as a starter. And he’ll probably never get a fair shake in the pros).
•Green Bay—Graham Harrell (Since Matt Flynn utilized one big game to get a massive off-season deal, I expect Harrell to do the same with a lights-out performance on the final week of the season).
•Houston—John Beck and TJ Yates (If Matt Schaub gets hurt again, the Texans would be able to handle themselves quite well since Yates won the team’s first-ever playoff game back in January).
•Indianapolis—Chandler Harnish and Drew Stanton (Colts’ fans better be hoping that their new golden boy, Andrew Luck, doesn’t tear his rotator cuff on opening day).
•Jacksonville—Chad Henne (If Blaine Gabbert struggles again, I wouldn’t be surprised if Henne takes over the starting role after a couple of games, mainly to accelerate the chances of drafting Matt Barkley first overall in next year’s draft).
•Minnesota—McLeod Bethel-Thompson and Joe Webb (On second thought, perhaps the Vikings are winning the Matt Barkley sweepstakes).
•Kansas City—Brady Quinn and Ricky Stanzi (When he was drafted, I thought Quinn would have been doing well by now with Cleveland. Once again, that shows you how much I know).
•Miami—Pat Devlin and Matt Moore (A note to the recently-released David Garrard. If you can’t get a job on this roster, it might be time to call it a day).
•New England—Ryan Mallett (I actually don’t have any witty comment here. This guy was great in college at Arkansas and should be the starter of the future whenever Tom Brady hangs it up).
•New Orleans—Chase Daniel (I wonder what former starter Aaron Brooks is up to right now).
•N.Y. Giants—David Carr (The Giants might be one of the few teams in NFL history to have two number-one draft picks on their depth chart. Also, I’m trying to wrap my head around the fact that Carr has more Super Bowl wins than Dan Marino).
•N.Y. Jets—Greg McElroy and Mark Sanchez (Okay, I know Sanchez is the starter right now. But let’s be honest, it’s only a matter of time before the Tim Tebow show takes over in the Big Apple. Personally, I’m already starting the “Free Sanchez” movement).
•Oakland—Matt Leinart and Terrelle Pryor (As the founder, president, and only member of the Matt Leinart fan club, I’m just glad that he still has a job in the league).
•Philadelphia—Trent Edwards and Nick Foles (When Michael Vick inevitably gets hurt, the city of Brotherly Love better get ready for some Buffalo Bills’ ex-starter excitement).
•Pittsburgh—Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich (Good old Charlie Batch. He’s been in the league for what feels like 20 years, and he’s got two Super Bowl rings).
•San Diego—Charlie Whitehurst (After being traded to Seattle in 2010, Whitehurst was brought back in the off-season. I’m not really sure what that says about the organization at this point).
•San Francisco—Colin Kaepernick and Scott Tolzien (Alex Smith better be as good as he was last year, or this might get ugly quick).
•Seattle—Matt Flynn (Despite being signed to a much-ballyhooed contract in the off-season, the Seahawks have decided to start rookie Russell Wilson instead of Flynn).
•St. Louis—Austin Davis (Davis was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 31st round of this June’s MLB Draft. That’s really all I know about him).
•Tampa Bay—Dan Orlovsky (Poor Orlovsky. Not only did he nearly mess up the Colts’ chances of winning the “Suck for Luck” lottery last season, but he’ll always be remembered for running out of the back of the end zone to give up a safety while playing for the 0-16 Lions).
•Tennessee—Matt Hasselbeck and Rusty Smith (The former Seahawks’ starter is a good back-up plan for the highly-touted Jake Locker, and how could you not like a man named Rusty).
•Washington—Kirk Cousins and Rex Grossman (I know Robert Griffin III is an exciting quarterback, but part of me wants to see at least one more start where Grossman throws at least 20 passes down the field over everyone’s head).