Atlanta Falcons backup quarterback TJ Yates isn't going to win a popularity contest in the near future. Let's be honest, most of you don't like him. Not personally, just as the Falcons' backup quarterback. While I'm sure he doesn't lose any sleep about it, if most Falcons fans had their way, the Houston Texans would just take Yates back. Maybe they'd even include an apology note.
While I'm not sold, believing that Yates could capably replace Matt Ryan in a pinch, I do understand the skepticism. And that begs an obvious question: will third stringer Sean Renfree overtake Yates in training camp?
Renfree occupies an enviable position. He's been competent in the pre-season, while Yates, the playoff game winning veteran, hasn't. Renfree is, for lack of a better metaphor, the greener grass on the other side of the fence. If knowledge of the offense has anything to do with it, Renfree may have some ground to make up. Credit to Vaughn McClure for the quote.
Ryan hasn't missed a start since the 2009 season ... [b]ut if some unforeseen circumstances occur, Yates is an intelligent enough player to manage the offense. Coach Dan Quinn made sure Yates got meaningful reps at the end of minicamp, and Yates will get plenty of opportunities during the preseason. Yates is familiar with Shanahan's scheme from his days under Gary Kubiak in Houston. (Kubiak developed his system alongside Shanahan's father, Mike). Yes, Yates has to play better this preseason than he did a year ago, but he's capable. The Falcons wouldn't have re-signed him otherwise, although Quinn did consider bringing Matt Schaubback to Atlanta before Schaub signed with Baltimore.
In short, Yates is a mixed bag. He's simultaneously got the inside track and much to prove in the preseason. Sure, he's smart and he understands the offense. But Quinn's hard look at Matt Schaub should raise eyebrows. (Even if it also calls Renfree's capability into question.)