The Titans did some normal training camp roster churning today, swapping out some offensive line depth and adding a new tight end to the mix. The most interesting move of the bunch was at the backup quarterback position, where Tennessee waived DeShone Kizer and replaced him with Matt Barkley.
Kizer had — theoretically at least — been competing with Logan Woodside for the Titans backup quarterback spot early in camp. The former Notre Dame star had almost every advantage on paper. Kizer had the size advantage (6-4, 235 to 6-1, 213), the experience advantage (15 NFL starts to zero), and the pedigree advantage (former second-round pick versus former seventh-round pick). He had the big arm and certainly looked the part of an NFL quarterback.
None of that stopped Woodside — a very average-looking player with a largely average background — from comfortably protecting his claim on the backup quarterback spot through a week of training camp.
It’s not as if beating out Kizer is some huge accomplishment — unspectacular backups like Tim Boyle and Nathan Peterman have managed to do that in recent years as well — but I do think it’s probably time that we stop trying to write off the Titans current QB2 every time a new passer is brought into the fold (I’m not pointing fingers, I’ve been guilty of it as well).
At this point, I fully expect Woodside to fend off Barkley — whose background and career numbers are almost identical to Kizer’s — and enter the 2021 season as Tannehill’s understudy.
Why? Well, let’s take a quick inventory of everything that Woodside has done since arriving in Tennessee three years ago.
He originally signed with the Titans as a practice squad quarterback after the team tried and failed to get their 2018 sixth-round pick, Luke Falk through waivers on roster cutdown day. When Falk was claimed by Adam Gase’s Dolphins, Woodside — who had been cut by the Bengals on the same day — became the Titans practice squad QB.
However, his initial stay didn’t last too long as he was cut after just three weeks. Looking for some additional reps, Woodside took his football pursuit to the Alliance of American Football, where he became the starter for the San Antonio Commanders.
Despite up and down results in the AAF, Woodside returned to Nashville after the AAF’s abrupt ending, re-signing in April 2019. His first real positive review came shortly thereafter when Vrabel told reporters that Woodside and then-rookie A.J. Brown “are here early studying and they stay late”, adding that he’s been really proud of Woodside for his work helping the rookies get up to speed in the offense.
During the 2019 preseason, we got the chance to see Woodside in preseason action — still the only extended action we’ve seen of him in a Titans uniform — and he impressed there as well, going 46-of-76 (60.5%) for 539 yards (7.1 YPA) with four touchdowns and zero interceptions.
While he obviously wasn’t going to unseat Marcus Mariota or Ryan Tannehill for one of the 53-man roster spots, his performance did earn him a spot on the Titans practice squad where he stuck for the entire season before signing a futures contract to return for 2020.
With Marcus Mariota out of the picture, the path to a backup spot cleared for Woodside. The Titans chose not to sign a veteran initially, instead opting to bring in camp competition in the form of seventh-round pick Cole McDonald. McDonald quickly washed out and was replaced by veteran Trevor Siemian, who most expected to quickly take over the QB2 role. But he didn’t. Woodside held him off and spent the entire 2020 season as Tannehill’s top backup, appearing in six games — mostly mop-up duty — with his top contribution being this beautiful throw to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine on a fake punt against the Ravens.
For both of the last two offseasons, Woodside has stayed in Nashville and organized throwing sessions with teammates. In 2020, A.J. Brown said he was catching passes from Woodside “two or three times a week” and this past offseason was more of the same.
Now, we’re a week into another training camp and Woodside has vanquished another would-be challenger to his backup job in Kizer. At the camp practices that I went to, it was pretty clear that Woodside was significantly ahead of Kizer. He knew where to go with the football, delivered it on time, and his accuracy was much more consistent. Those are the kinds of skills that you want out of your backup quarterback.
We’ll get to see a lot of Logan Woodside over the next month as preseason action gets underway. We’ll probably see a lot of Matt Barkley too, but we shouldn’t be surprised when Woodside outperforms him. It’s what he’s been doing in Tennessee for the last three years now.