NFL backup QB rankings: Comparing Patriots' Brian Hoyer to his peers

Where does Brian Hoyer rank among NFL's best backup QBs? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots have rarely needed to turn to a backup quarterback during Bill Belichick's 22 seasons as the team's head coach.

Tom Brady, who famously replaced Drew Bledsoe during the 2001 season and went on to have the best career of any quarterback in NFL history, played 20 years in New England and didn't miss many games. The only season in which Brady was sidelined due to injury was 2008 when he suffered an ACL tear in Week 1 and missed the rest of the year. He also missed four games in 2016 as a result of his league suspension stemming from DeflateGate.

Aside from those two instances, we haven't seen backup quarterbacks get a ton of action in Foxboro. That could change beginning this week, though, because starter Mac Jones reportedly suffered a "pretty severe" high ankle sprain late in Sunday's Week 3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

The Patriots will need to turn to backup Brian Hoyer if Jones is unavailable for the team's Week 4 game versus the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Hoyer has lost his last 11 starts. The other quarterback on the Patriots' roster is rookie Bailey Zappe, who New England selected in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

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How does Hoyer compare to the rest of the backups in the league?

We ranked them all, including the quarterbacks (Garoppolo, Rush, Brissett, etc.) who are normally backups but have taken over the starting job for a variety of reasons.

Let's start with the top 10

10. Nick Foles, Colts

The Super Bowl LII MVP has played in just two games since the end of the 2020 season. His last prolonged stretch of action came in 2020 when he completed 64.8 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions over nine games for the Bears.

9. Tyler Huntley, Ravens

Huntley played seven games in place of an injured Lamar Jackson last season. He completed 64.8 percent of his passes, while also running for 294 yards and two touchdowns. He has a decent dual-threat skill set.

8. Kenny Pickett, Steelers

Pickett might not be the backup in Pittsburgh for long. Veteran starter Mitch Trubisky has really struggled over the first three games. The Steelers are 1-2 and have a brutal schedule coming up. Throwing Pickett, who the Steelers selected in the first round of the 2022 draft, into the fire against quality opponents would get him some valuable experience.

7. Joe Flacco, Jets

Flacco started the first three games of the season with Zach Wilson rehabbing from knee surgery. Wilson could return for Week 4, though, so Flacco might be headed back to the bench. He fared pretty well as the starter, leading the Jets to a 1-2 record (losses to Cincinnati and Baltimore) and throwing five touchdowns with three interceptions.

6. Jacoby Brissett, Browns

Brissett stepped in as the starter when Deshaun Watson's suspension was finalized. The 2016 Patriots draft pick has done a nice job for the Browns. They are 2-1 and Brissett has completed 64.1 percent of his passes for 596 yards with four touchdowns and only one interception.

5. Teddy Bridgewater, Dolphins

Bridgewater has more experience as a starter than a lot of quarterbacks on this list. Dolphins star Tua Tagovailoa suffered a back injury in last week's win against the Bills. His status for Thursday night's game against the Bengals is unclear right now. If he doesn't play, the Dolphins will still be in good shape with Bridgewater at the helm.

4. Taylor Heinicke, Commanders

Heinicke did an admirable job as the Commanders' starter last season. He completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,419 yards with 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Heinicke also put up a strong fight against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in an NFC Wild Card playoff game during the 2020 campaign.

3. Gardner Minshew, Eagles

Minshew has 41 touchdown passes with 12 interceptions in 27 career games. He absolutely could start on several teams right now. If Jalen Hurts ever gets injured -- and that risk isn't small based on his willingness to escape the pocket and run -- the Eagles have a very competent backup to step in.

2. Cooper Rush, Cowboys

Rush has started the Cowboys' last two games and won both of them. He hasn't lit up the stat sheet by any means, but he also hasn't turned the ball over once. Rush is giving the Cowboys exactly what they need until Dak Prescott is ready to return.

1. Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers

The 49ers must be pretty happy they didn't trade Garoppolo in the offseason. They gave the keys to the offense to 2021 first-round pick Trey Lance, but he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2. Garoppolo isn't a top-tier quarterback, but his 35-17 record as the 49ers' starter since 2017 is quite impressive. He just finds ways to win games.

Worst of the rest

32. Nate Sudfeld, Lions

31. Brett Rypien, Broncos

30. Trace McSorley, Cardinals

29. PJ Walker, Panthers

28. John Wolford, Rams

27. Nick Mullens, Vikings

26. C.J. Beathard, Jaguars

25. Malik Willis, Titans

24. Brian Hoyer, Patriots

23. Desmond Ridder, Falcons

22. Kyle Allen, Texans

21. Brandon Allen, Bengals

20. Trevor Siemian, Bears

19. Chad Henne, Chiefs

18. Chase Daniel, Chargers

17. Drew Lock, Seahawks

16. Jarrett Stidham, Raiders

15. Blaine Gabbert, Buccaneers

14. Andy Dalton, Saints

13. Tyrod Taylor, Giants

12. Jordan Love, Packers

11. Case Keenum, Bills

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