Tyler Huntley has outplayed expectations in limited action this season. The Ravens’ backup quarterback threw and ran for multiple touchdowns in their narrow loss to the Packers Dec. 19, something not even Lamar Jackson has done in his career.
Does it mean Huntley is suddenly a starting-caliber quarterback in the NFL? Probably not, but perhaps it is a sign that he could become one with a more extensive opportunity. But he’s been more than serviceable in his current role.
With that in mind, where does Huntley fit among the best backup quarterbacks in team history? I decided to take a deep dive into that this week. Keep in mind, these quarterbacks made the list because of memorable things they did as Ravens. Players like Marc Bulger and Matt Schaub were significantly accomplished before arriving in Baltimore. Tyrod Taylor went on to great success after leaving the Ravens. But for this list, the players had to accomplish something memorable as a Raven.
10. Kordell Stewart
The artist formerly known as “Slash” added another function to his Swiss Army Knife repertoire as a Raven. He did not attempt a pass in two seasons in Baltimore BUT he served as emergency punter in a 2004 win against the Jets, punting five times and receiving AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
9. Trace McSorley
McSorley didn’t do much in two seasons on the Ravens’ active roster, but his relief appearance against the Steelers in 2020 was memorable. That’s in part because Hollywood Brown turned his 18-yard pass into a 70-yard touchdown and also because it was a Wednesday afternoon game and the touchdown gave the Ravens a chance to win despite their roster being depleted by a COVID-19 outbreak.
8. Randall Cunningham
The Eagles legend made two starts for the Ravens in his final NFL season (2001), winning both. Cunningham filled in for Elvis Grbac for two division wins (Jacksonville and Pittsburgh), including a late game-winning touchdown pass to Qadry Ismail against the Jaguars.
7. Kyle Boller
After three seasons of struggles, the former first-round pick found himself behind former NFL MVP Steve McNair in 2006. McNair was hurt during a December game against the Browns, forcing Boller back under center. He threw for 238 yards and two touchdowns in relief, helping the Ravens clinch a playoff spot.
6. Ryan Mallett
Mallett appeared in eight games during three seasons with the Ravens, none more memorable than a 2015 win against the Steelers. The former Patriot threw for 274 yards and a touchdown in the stunning win, working with a receiving corps of Kamar Aiken, Chris Givens, Chris Matthews and do you remember something called a Jeremy Butler?
5. Eric Zeier
As Vinny Testaverde’s backup, Zeier actually had some “quarterback of the future” vibes around him in the franchise’s early days. He went 2-1 as a starter late in 1997, throwing for six touchdowns in the stretch and finishing with more than 300 yards passing twice.
4. Tyler Huntley
The word I keep coming back to is “courageous.” The former undrafted free agent made a breathtaking throw to Sammy Watkins late to help beat the Bears, overcame struggles to give the Ravens a chance against the Browns and was largely excellent despite coming up a bit short against the Packers. No, he’s not suddenly a trade commodity. But he’s been an awful lot of fun to watch.
3. Anthony Wright
Chris Redman was actually the first quarterback Brian Billick turned to when Boller was hurt midway through his rookie season. But the Ravens turned to Wright in November, which led to a significant moment in Ravens history. Wright threw for 319 yards and four touchdowns against the Seahawks, rallying the Ravens back from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit. Wright would lead the Ravens to their first division title.
2. Trent Dilfer
While far from perfect and at times not even particularly good, Dilfer is arguably the best true “backup quarterback” in NFL history. For most of his dramatic 11-1 stretch (including the playoffs) as starter in 2000, he was tasked with just not screwing up what was a dominant defense with an excellent run game. But he had his moments, including 281 yards and two touchdowns in a huge win at the Titans.
1. Lamar Jackson
This feels like it shouldn’t count because Jackson was a first-round pick who was expected to become the team’s starter at some point. But he wasn’t expected to get the gig midway through his rookie season because of an injury to Joe Flacco. The rest of course is history, as he went 6-1 in seven starts to deliver the Ravens an AFC North title and the right to never be a backup again. (Or at least not for a long time.)
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox