Cleveland is hoping to work its way into the playoffs, and it will need to take the next step without its starting quarterback. Or his backup. Both Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum have tested positive for COVID-19, making it likely that Nick Mullens will be starting on Saturday against the Raiders.

The Browns have experience in this area. Since 2010, six times they’ve gotten down to starting their third-string quarterback. (But never with the stakes this high.) And this time, they’ll also be playing without another 15 or so players, depending on how the COVID testing goes. Jarvis Landry, Austin Hooper and two starting linemen are also currently on the COVID-19 reserve list.

If you’re going to a third-string quarterback, Nick Mullens at least appears to be one of the better ones. He, recall, broke a bunch of Brett Favre’s records at Southern Miss, and he put up shocking numbers for the 49ers back in 2018. Starting the second half of that season, he averaged 285 passing yards, with 13 TD passes in the eight games he started. He also threw 10 interceptions in those games, but he is, after all, a third-string quarterback.

Over the last dozen years, 2018 Nick Mullens was arguably the most impressive third-string quarterback in the league. Only two others (Kellen Moore, Taylor Heinicke) put up better per-game numbers, but they didn’t play all that much. Mullens put in a full half season, and his numbers that year were better than starter Jimmy Garoppolo’s.

Below see the per-game stats for all third-string quarterbacks since 2010. Well, most of them; I think there were a few guys who played for multiple teams that slipped through the cracks the way I put together the numbers. Also, there were some decisions to be made with various situations. Garoppolo, for example, was traded to the 49ers during the 2017 season. Is he a third-string quarterback? Or do I downgrade one of the first two guys they used? Similarly with the 2011 Colts; they knew Peyton Manning was going to miss that season, so was their opening day starter their first- or second-string quarterback?

But below I’ll get you a stab at it. Here’s hoping that COVID issues don’t force us to see more third-string quarterbacks the rest of the way.

2015Kellen Moore, Dall.23111.501.50-1.0021.5
2018Taylor Heinicke, Car.12741.003.0033.0021.0
2018Nick Mullens, S.F.82851.631.25-2.0020.8
2020C.J. Beathard, S.F.22282.00.0014.0020.8
2020Brett Rypien, Den.12422.003.00-5.0019.6
2018Matt Barkley, Buff.12322.00.00-2.0019.4
2013• Jason Campbell, Clev.82511.381.0013.0019.4
2016Matt Barkley, Chi.62551.332.001.1719.1
2020Garrett Gilbert, Dall.12431.001.0028.0019.0
2014Christian Ponder, Min.1222.002.00151.0018.6
2013Matt Flynn, G.B.42321.501.009.0018.5
2010Drew Stanton, Det.31821.001.0027.3317.8
2017Blaine Gabbert, Ariz.52171.201.2016.0017.7
2014Colt McCoy, Was.4232.75.7516.2517.7
2014Ryan Lindley, Ariz.22661.002.000.0017.3
2013Jeff Tuel, Buff.12291.002.0017.0017.2
2014Zach Mettenberger, Ten.62331.331.001.0017.0
2016• Robert Griffin, Clev.5177.40.6038.4016.7
2014Case Keenum, Hou.22181.001.0018.0016.6
2012Brian Hoyer, Ariz.12251.001.006.0015.9
2010Stephen McGee, Dall.11271.00.0055.0015.9
2013Scott Tolzien, G.B.2219.001.5018.5015.7
2011Dan Orlovsky, Ind.52161.20.801.0015.7
2020Jake Luton, Jac.3208.672.004.3315.5
2010• Colt McCoy, Clev.8197.751.1317.1315.3
2011Kellen Clemens, St.L.3182.67.3312.3315.0
2019David Blough, Det.5197.801.206.2014.9
2010Joe Webb, Min.2170.00.5033.5014.8
2016Jacoby Brissett, N.E.2154.00.0036.5014.3
2019Brandon Allen, Den.31721.00.6713.0013.9
2012Charlie Batch, Pitt.2238.502.000.0013.9
2015Josh Freeman, Ind.11491.001.0024.0013.9
2020Brandon Allen, Cin.51851.00.805.0013.8
2011Curtis Painter, Ind.8185.751.1313.0013.6
2020Alex Smith, Was.6203.83.830.0013.5
2011Caleb Hanie, Chi.4153.752.2525.0013.1
2015• Austin Davis, Clev.2235.001.5013.0013.1
2017Paxton Lynch, Den.21481.001.5015.0012.9
2010Brian St. Pierre, Car.11731.002.000.0012.7
2011T.J. Yates, Hou.5176.60.6012.0012.4
2010Tyler Thigpen, Mia.1187.001.0027.0012.1
2018Josh Johnson, Was.3132.671.0025.0011.8
2020Ben DiNucci, Dall.1180.00.0022.0011.2
2016Bryce Petty, NYJ4164.501.255.0011.2
2019Devlin Hodges, Pitt.6146.671.338.0010.8
2018Nathan Peterman, Buff.2106.002.5024.5010.7
2014• Connor Shaw, Clev.1177.
2017T.J. Yates, Hou.3116.671.007.009.1
2012Ryan Lindley, Ariz.4172.001.752.008.8
2010Dennis Dixon, Pitt.2127.00.5016.008.0
2018Mark Sanchez, Was.1138.
2015Landry Jones, Pitt.2116.501.00-1.007.7
2019Colt McCoy, Was.1122.001.0014.007.5
2010Rusty Smith, Ten.1138.
2019Will Grier, Car.2114.002.0011.006.8
2011Kyle Boller, Oak.161.003.0029.006.0
2010Max Hall, Ariz.392.331.33-2.005.8
2019Luke Falk, NYJ2109.001.500.005.5
2010Brian Brohm, Buff.1106.
2020Kendall Hinton, Den.

—Ian Allan