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4 backup quarterbacks who could shape the 2015 NFL season

Several NFL superstars have gone down with injuries, including Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees and Tony Romo, forcing backup quarterbacks into the spotlight.

Only three weeks after the NFL season began Luke McCown, Jimmy Clausen, Brandon Weeden and Josh McCown are all starting games at quarterback, and only one of those is according to plan.

Several of the NFL's biggest names have already gone down with injuries, including Tony Romo, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger, and while all of those players managed to avoid an injury that has them ruled out for the remainder of the year, several teams have had to pin their hopes on castoffs and has-beens.

In Week 3, the Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys all relied on backups to lead the way and all three teams lost. In some cases, the fact that the starter was unavailable was a huge factor in the loss, while other teams lost despite strong performances at quarterback.

So how screwed are these teams relying on backups?

New Orleans Saints

The Saints were without Drew Brees on Sunday, but still kept things close in a 27-22 loss to the Carolina Panthers. While Luke McCown didn't throw a touchdown pass and did throw an interception, it's tough to pin too much blame on him when he completed 31 of 38 passes for 310 yards.

Brees says he's optimistic he'll return in time for Week 4, but others say he's a long shot to return against the Cowboys. That means the Saints could be forced to throw McCown in the fire again, which apparently isn't the worst thing. Brees was very complimentary of McCown's play in a radio interview and said that his backup "played great" and "didn't make a bad decision" all game against the Panthers.

Level of screwed: Not so screwed

Dallas Cowboys

For a little while, Brandon Weeden looked like a savior in relief of Tony Romo. He broke the franchise record with 21 consecutive completions, stretching back to when he took over for Romo in Week 2, and was just three more completions away from breaking the NFL record of 24 straight set by Donovan McNabb.

That streak ended with an inexplicable interception and, like McCown, Weeden never threw a touchdown pass. While his 22-of-26 statline is good and helped the Cowboys to a 28-14 lead, the team couldn't score in the second half when running room for Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden ran out.

Level of screwed: Maybe not THAT screwed

Pittsburgh Steelers

Michael Vick only threw six passes for the Steelers when Ben Roethlisberger went down with an injury, but he completed five of them and looked much more prepared to be a reliever than he did when Geno Smith got yanked.

On Monday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin expressed confidence in Vick, but said that the team won't ask him to do as much as they do Roethlisberger. "We are going to work in his comfort zone and bring the game to him to allow to be put in the best position to win a football game."

The Steelers have one of the NFL's highest-powered offenses, so it's only fair to expect it to take a step backward when it loses one of its best and most important players. Vick is a former star, but he's 35 now and has limited play time under his belt in the last couple years.

Level of screwed: Just a little screwed

Chicago Bears

Every single offensive possession for the Bears ended with a punt on Sunday. Punter Pat O'Donnell was asked to punt 10 times while the Bears managed to record only seven first downs in a 26-0 loss. Say whatever you want about Jay Cutler, but the Bears managed to record 23 points in each of the first two weeks of the season before he suffered a hamstring injury.

While Jimmy Clausen didn't throw an interception, he didn't do anything good either. He completed just nine passes for 63 yards against the Seahawks. Maybe David Fales will get his shot, but turning to a second-year player who was taken in the sixth round and has zero NFL experience generally doesn't help a team turn around an 0-3 season.

Level of screwed: Totally screwed

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