Saturday, November 17, 2007
At least nine teams will change QBs this week
By Len Pasquarelli
Even with the dizzying standards set already this season by franchises making changes in their starting quarterbacks, this weekend will result in the kind of musical chairs shuffle the NFL hasn't witnessed in at least eight years.
Nearly one-third of the teams will have starting quarterbacks different from the ones who opened for them in Week 10. And the sheer volume of change alone, not to mention the obvious ramifications of such rampant instability at the game's most critical position, is numbing to some league observers.
"It's not the ideal way of doing things," acknowledged Minnesota coach Brad Childress, who will make his fifth change in the nine games since the season opener, with regular starter Tarvaris Jackson returning to the lineup. "But it's been an unusual year."
Unusual and unsettled.
At least nine teams will change quarterbacks this week. And a 10th squad, the Atlanta Falcons, is likely to make a switch if Byron Leftwich's surgically repaired ankle is sufficiently steady to allow him to replace Joey Harrington.
Even if Leftwich doesn't play, the nine changes is a season high, topping the eight made in Week 9. Even eight was the most in at least the past five seasons. Although the league does not maintain statistics on weekly quarterback switches, the nine lineup changes this week will qualify as the most since at least the 1999 season.
The Ravens, Panthers and Vikings have made at least four changes each.
Beyond the change in Minnesota, there are quarterback switches in Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Miami, Oakland and San Francisco.
The nine confirmed changes for this weekend will raise to 42 the number of switches since the opening week of the season. In the entire 2006 season, there were only 26 switches. The league is averaging 4.2 changes at quarterback per week, and with all the switches pending for Week 11, the average for the past four weeks will skyrocket to 5.8.
There will be two first-time starters this weekend, Brodie Croyle for Kansas City and Miami rookie John Beck, and that will bring to 52 the number of QB starters used in 2007. There were only 50 starters for all of 2006. The 50 different starters last season represented the fewest in the league since there also were 50 in 2001.
In a season in which the quarterback carousel has spun at warp speed, though, the number of starters is on the rise again this year.
By the end of Week 11 -- barely into the second half of the season -- 17 of the 32 franchises will have used at least two starting quarterbacks. This weekend, Miami will join Carolina and Minnesota as teams that have used three starters.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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