At least Vikings have QB depth, if not a star

The Vikings are well aware of the star power at quarterback in their division. But all three opponents in the NFC North don’t have much going behind their starting quarterback.

For years, the Vikings have been rated as having the worst quarterbacking position in the NFC North. Why not? Since Brett Favre was injured during the 2010 season, the Vikings starting quarterbacks have been Tavaris Jackson, Donovan McNabb, Christian Ponder, Joe Webb, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman. It’s not exactly the short list to success.

Meanwhile, the other three teams in the NFC North had among the league’s elite quarterbacks – Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, Matthew Stafford in Detroit and Jay Cutler in Chicago. All of them had a distinct advantage at the position. If you were giving out checkmarks next to a positional category, since late in the 2010 season, the Vikings have never got that particular QB checkmark on their side of the ledger.

While the Vikings still won’t be in line to get that checkmark anytime soon, there is a standing rule in the NFL that backup quarterbacks prepare as if they’re starters because, sooner or later, they will be. As the mantra of the backup QB goes, making it through 16 games for NFL starting quarterbacks is much easier said than the done. The Vikings accomplished that just twice over the last nine seasons. It doesn’t come easy.

While the other three teams in the NFC North are all trying to amass squads that can win the division, one area where they appear to be extremely deficient is at backup quarterback.

You would have thought Green Bay would have learned its lesson last year when Rodgers went down. They went through Vince Young, Scott Tolzein and Matt Flynn as their backups with pedestrian results. Flynn and Tolzein are back and the situation doesn’t look any better if something should happen to Rodgers. Flynn couldn’t make it in Oakland and Tolzein was brutal.

In Chicago, things have gotten much worse. Last year, Cutler went down and Josh McCown had the season of his life – so good that he signed a big free-agent deal with Tampa Bay to compete for the starting job. Even No. 3 guy Caleb Hanie is gone. Replacing them are Carson Palmer’s little brother Jordan, a journeyman who has spent time with the Redskins, Bengals, Jaguars and the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena League, and sixth-round rookie David Fales. If Cutler goes down again, it could be dark times in Chicago.

In Detroit, Stafford had better stay healthy because all they have behind him are 10-year journeyman Dan Orlovsky, who was last seen running out of the Metrodome end zone for a self-imposed safety while being chased by Jared Allen, and third-year pro Kellen Moore. If Orlovsky or Moore has to start regular-season games, Megatron will be mortal.

The Vikings have far more depth at the position, although none of them currently match up with Rodgers, Stafford or Cutler. However, if they have to go to a No. 2 option, the other offenses could sputter to a halt. The Vikings have three quarterbacks who either were or will be starters of more than a dozen NFL games and could excel in the Norv Turner offense. While none of them is at the elite level of the other divisional starters, there is a Plan B and even a Plan C in place. None of the other teams have anything beyond Plan A.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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