One of my guiltiest pleasures as an NFL fan is enjoying that first time of the season where a team trots out their third different starting QB. Sometimes, I look on the CBS ticker and see a name I don’t know starting for the Browns or Chiefs. Other times, I’ll see a link on ESPN telling me the Raiders are giving an undrafted rookie his first shot because why the fuck not? But however the reveal, it’s always a sweet sight. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look and see which teams are most likely to start three or more quarterbacks over the course of the 2014 season.
In 2013, the following teams all had at least three quarterbacks start at least one game for them:
Green Bay Packers (Aaron Rodgers, Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien, Matt Flynn)
Cleveland Browns (Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer, Jason Campbell)
Minnesota Vikings (Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel, Josh Freeman)
Oakland Raiders (Terrelle Pryor, Matt Flynn, Matt McGloin)
Buffalo Bills (E.J. Manuel, Thad Lewis, Jeff Tuel)
Looking at this list, the Packers are the only team who doesn’t seem extremely likely to repeat the feat in 2014. None of the other teams have really sorted out their QB situation – while the Vikings and Browns have high hopes for Bridgewater and Manziel, there’s plenty of uncertainty going into the year, and things could quickly descend into utter chaos. Same goes for the Raiders, who have the Molotov cocktail of highly questionable veteran (Matt Schaub), rookie who could be good but you can’t stop thinking about his brother (Derek Carr), and unheralded guy who actually didn’t totally suck last year (Matt McGloin). Finally, there’s the Bills, who might wind up starting the same three quarterbacks two years in a row. This would hardly be shocking, since they did they exact same thing from 2009-2010, with Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Brian Brohm all starting at least one game both years.
So, already we have four teams who have a damn good chance at starting three different quarterbacks for two straight seasons. But will there be any newcomers? Almost certainly yes! All of these teams have a reasonable shot at being completely unstable at QB the entire season:
Tennessee Titans: I’m kinda stunned they didn’t do this last year, but amazingly, either Jack Locker or Ryan Fitzpatrick stated all of their games, with Rusty Smith safely in hiding. This year, Locker is back and as fragile as ever, and he’s being backed up by Charlie Whitehurst – aka the poor man’s Billy Volek – and noted Losers patron Zach Mettenberger (Note: If Mettenberger ever starts a game on the road, the opposing team’s PA system should play Tom Petty’s “Even The Losers” every time he completes a pass). This is simple; Locker gets hurt in Week 3, Whitehurst starts two games and plays okay, but the Titans lose both. Everybody starts clamoring for Mettenberger, he comes in for a few games and plays like crap. Finally, Whisenhunt goes back to Whitehurst for the last five games of a miserable 2-14 season.
Houston Texans: Another miserable AFC South team who inexplicably did not achieve the QB trifecta in 2013. T.J. Yates had some mop-up duty, but every game was started by either Schaub or Case Keenum. Keenum is still around, but he’s supposed to be Fitz’s backup, with Tom Savage waiting on the bench for at least a year. The thing is, this could unravel instantly. The Texans are hoping Fitz is just competent enough to get the team by, but it’s possible — if not likely — that after a few multi-interception games, they decide Keenum has a better shot at being Not Quite Shitty Enough To Stop 9-7 And A 6-Seed From Happening. If he sucks too, or if there’s an injury, they could easily end up turning to Savage when the second half of the year rolls around.
New York Jets: Right off the bat, this team is pretty much guaranteed to start at least two QBs; the odds that they stick to Geno Smith or Michael Vick for the entire year are pretty damn slim. Here’s how it goes down: Smith starts on opening day, then after a few dreadful performances, Rex benches him for Vick. Vick inevitably gets hurt. They go back to Smith, and he still looks terrible, so with four games left in a lost season, they finally trot out Tajh Boyd, who every Jets fan will be loudly clamoring for out NY/NJ sports radio at that point. I’d be stunned if this doesn’t happen.
Those three stand out as the most likely, but here’s a few more to look for: if RG3 gets hurt again, the Skins could find themselves trotting out both Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins in his wake. The Bucs and Jags both look pretty iffy, but I’m hard-pressed to see either team getting to three, with McCown/Glennon and Henne/Bortles being so far ahead of anyone else they might have. Still, there’s plenty of trainwreck potential there, so keep your eyes peeled.
Of course, this can be something of a crapshoot. No one thought the Packers would start four different QBs last year, but after Rodgers went down, all hell broke loose because Matt Flynn is apparently the only person capable of handling backup duties for that team. So, you never know what team could find themselves in the depths of quarterback hell this season. In any event, the fumbles, interceptions, and subsequent benchings should all be quite fun to watch.