Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Matt Hasselbeck: Who’s The Better Backup QB?
Aug 29, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (4) passes against the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
In today’s NFL, the backup quarterback has become more important than ever. With the league transitioning to more of a mobile style of quarterback, most teams now must have a reliable backup.
In 2011, the Tennessee Titans selected Jake Locker with the eighth overall pick in the draft. The Titans made a big move before drafting Locker. They signed veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to a three-year, $20 million dollar contract. Matt led the Titans to a 9-7 record just missing the playoffs. He had 3,571 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and an 82.4 quarterback rating.
Matt was always a great locker-room guy and a fan favorite wherever he played. The guy just has a love for the game and he can still manage to play the game of football efficiently at the age of 37. He tutored and groomed Locker for two seasons before Locker won the starting job in 2012.
Jake and Matt had a great chemistry together. They are friends on and off the field. Matt showed him everything he knows on how to become a starting quarterback in this league. That was all taken away from Locker in the 2013 offseason.
The Titans decided to release Hasselbeck and not pay him $5.5 million for the 2013 season. Matt did not like the news.
The Titans had decided to go a different route, signing former Buffalo Bills starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. They signed Fitzpatrick to a two-year, $6.5 million contract. In 2012, Fitzpatrick threw for 3,400 yards, 24 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and an 83.3 quarterback rating. Both quarterbacks have been in the Pro Bowl. What Fitzpatrick lacks is playoff experience.
Hasselbeck was one of the best signal-callers in the game. He’s just plain and simply a smart football player. But he is now 37 years old and the Titans got a quarterback for an extra year for only $1 million extra than keeping Hasselbeck for one final season. Jake and Matt had a great relationship together. Now that he’s gone, Locker can focus on the game without someone breathing down his back.
Although Fitzpatrick has been a turnover machine, he is only 30 years old. They have seemed to play a similar game. Short passes, smart quarterbacks and both have bad arms. The Colts signed Hasselbeck to a two-year, $8-million contract. The Titans get the better end of this deal with a younger quarterback who has played on a terrible Bills team for the past four seasons.
Hasselbeck lost the ability to throw it downfield. Fitzpatrick has shown he can still sling the ball downfield as he has impressed throughout training camp and preseason. He may not be a better signal-caller or as energetic as Hasselbeck. He can still provide the Titans with an accurate short game and good touch on his deep ball. One thing Fitzpatrick has shown is he can run. This was something Hasselbeck could not provide for the Titans.
Fitzpatrick being in a new system, good mobility, cheap contract, his age, and starting fresh with a new team which actually has weapons makes this a great move. If Locker went down, I would feel comfortable with Fitzpatrick taking the field. Fitzpatrick is the better backup quarterback and this was one of the smartest moves by the organizations in years. I’m still a fan of Matt as he loved Tennessee and played his heart out with the Titans.
But signing with the Colts didn’t make the situation better.
All statistics sourced from ESPN.com