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Instant Debate

Kitna gets the nod as Mr. Reliable when it comes to backups

If your starting quarterback goes down, who can your team count on to save the day? We asked our experts to debate who the best No. 2 QB in the NFL is, keeping in mind that guys like Kevin Kolb, who could very well start somewhere next season, weren't considered. We're talking true backup QBs here.

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  • Jason La Canfora NFL Network
  • Flynn's in the best possible learning situation

I'm a Matt Flynn guy. I readily admit it.

  <table align="right" width="315px"> 
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  </table> I realize the sample size is limited and that he remains light on real game experience, but I just have a feeling this kid is a player. Learning under Aaron Rodgers and coach Mike McCarthy is a blessing. Flynn has been brought along slowly and is an understudy to someone who totally understands his plight, given all the years Rodgers was stuck behind Brett Favre.  

The pedigree of development is there. Flynn has flashed well in preseason outings and was nothing short of a revelation when forced to start a critical primetime game last season against New England. He has the requisite size, intellect and intangibles to do the job, and while the lockout has done his development no favors, it won't be too long before he's given the opportunity to run his own offense somewhere else.

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  • Vic Carucci
  • Hill an 'excellent insurance policy'

Shaun Hill is easily the best true No. 2 quarterback in the league. The Lions are going to be Matthew Stafford's team for a long time to come. That means, although Hill is talented enough to start elsewhere, he is not going to have a chance to win the starting job in Detroit. Will he have occasions to play? Given Stafford's injury history, yes. On that basis, Hill is an excellent insurance policy, even as he recovers from offseason back surgery. But the Lions are convinced that Stafford has fully recovered from shoulder surgery and should be physically able to perform at a top level. As a result, Hill is destined to watch.

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  • Steve Wyche
  • Feeling comfortable with Kitna running offense

I might come off sounding like Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett here, but Jon Kitna is who I'd probably feel most comfortable with running my team in case of injury, which is what he did last season in Dallas. At a time when the Cowboys were completely sideways, Kitna took over for Tony Romo and won four of nine games, throwing for 16 touchdowns and 2,365 yards. He's 38 years old and doesn't have much left, but I'd feel better about him running my team in an emergency situation -- or for three or four games -- than just about any other backup.

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  • Pat Kirwan
  • Kitna can come off bench at moment's notice

My favorite backup quarterback who really isn't a candidate to start anywhere for the rest of his career, but is still good enough to come off the bench on a moment's notice and win games, is Jon Kitna in Dallas. He led the Cowboys to a 4-5 record last year when Tony Romo went down with injury and threw 16 touchdown passes to 12 interceptions with an 88.9 passer rating.

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  • Charles Davis NFL Network
  • Bulger has everything you want

The best backup QB in the NFL, if he stays in Baltimore, is Marc Bulger. A former starter, and a very successful one at that with the St. Louis Rams, he has everything that you want in a backup: Game experience, production, mental toughness, the ability to stay sharp with limited work, and a team-first attitude that supports the starter but lets the team feel at ease if he's ever called upon to play.

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  • Elliot Harrison
  • Kitna clutch on third down

The best backup quarterback, at least based on last season, has to be Jon Kitna. There's no question the Cowboys played with a different fire under the emotional veteran. Perhaps the most impressive stat to be taken from his performance is on the most important down in football. Kitna's third-down passer rating was an astronomical 113.1, third highest in the league behind only Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger. The only drawback to Kitna as a backup is his age. Soon to be 39, he probably doesn't have much time left. Still, Cowboy fans like the way he yells at Dez Bryant when he doesn't run the right route, and would like some of those cajones to rub off on the starter.

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