NFC West: John Friesz
That will change when Kerry Collins replaces an injured Manning in the Colts' lineup for Week 1.
The first preseason game I covered as an NFL beat reporter featured Manning making his first start against the Seattle Seahawks in the Kingdome. His very first pass found Marvin Harrison for a 49-yard touchdown. Preseason games are generally without much meaning, but could there have been a more fitting beginning for Manning?
For a fuller appreciation of Manning's durability and consistency in starting 227 consecutive games, I went through Pro Football Reference counting how many quarterbacks had started for current NFC West teams since Manning made his regular-season debut. There have been 48. That figure includes 14 for the St. Louis Rams, 13 for the 49ers, 11 for the Arizona Cardinals and 10 for the Seahawks.
A few notes on the 48 players to start for current NFC West teams since 1998:
- There have been two Brocks (Berlin, Huard), two Charlies (Frye, Whitehurst), two named Chris (Chandler, Weinke), two Jeffs (Plummer, Martin), three Johns (Friesz, Navarre, Skelton), one Jon (Kitna), two Matts (Hasselbeck, Leinart), two Shauns (Hill, King), three Steves (Young, Bono, Stenstrom) and two Trents (Dilfer, Green).
- Two, Young and Warren Moon, have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame since Manning's streak began.
- Dilfer and Warner started for more than one current NFC West team since Manning's streak began. Warner started 57 games for Arizona and 50 for St. Louis. Dilfer started 12 for Seattle and six for San Francisco.
- Hasselbeck has the most total starts for current NFC West teams with 131, followed by Marc Bulger (95 for St. Louis), Jake Plummer (73 for the Cardinals) and Jeff Garcia (71 for the 49ers).
- Smith -- Alex, not Troy -- owns the most starts among current NFC West players with 50, all for San Francisco.
- Eight of the 48 were one-and-done as starters: Berlin, Scott Covington, Ty Detmer, Glenn Foley, Friesz, Frye, Navarre and Weinke. Nineteen have made at least 10 starts.
The NFC West will have two starters new to the division in Week 1: Tarvaris Jackson and Kevin Kolb.
The chart shows start totals by team for the 48. The NFC West changed membership with realignment in 2002. I'm going back to 1998 for the four teams currently in the division.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
NFL teams rarely lose their starting quarterback to a season-ending injury in the opener. That comes as no consolation to the Patriots as they move on without Tom Brady. But a couple of NFC West teams have changed starters after Week 1, with positive results.
The Rams benched two-time MVP Kurt Warner for Marc Bulger following the 2003 opener. Warner fumbled six times in Week 1. Bulger took over and kept the job. He finished that 2003 season with 22 touchdowns and 22 interceptions before becoming more efficient in subsequent seasons.
In 1997, the Seahawks lost starter John Friesz to a broken thumb during a 41-3 opening-week loss to the Jets. Warren Moon took over and passed for 3,678 yards with 25 touchdowns as Seattle finished the season ranked No. 1 in passing yards.
Current Seattle backup Charlie Frye started the 2007 opener for Cleveland, only to have the Browns trade him to the Seahawks. Derek Anderson took over for Cleveland and earned a spot on the AFC's Pro Bowl squad.
The Patriots will surely tumble in our upcoming power rankings, but it's premature to write them off. The next Bulger or Anderson could already be on their roster. Unfortunately for New England, there's only one Tom Brady.