The NFL is a constantly evolving league, and this fact usually brings many positional changes from year to year. In the '70s, it was run first and pass questions later. In the '80s the innovative West Coast offense was all the rage. The '90s was dominated by a well-balanced powerhouse known as the NFC.
The new millennium started us off with defensive dominance, but that didn't last very long and gave way to the pass-heavy palace that we all inhabit these days. The QB has been the most important player on the field for decades, but teams didn't necessarily have to have a Pro Bowler caliber passer to be considered a contender.
Now it seems if a team doesn't have a QB who can throw for 3,500 yards, they may as well pack it in and wait for the next year to try again. Having said that, a quarter of the league is still making changes under center, whether due to injury, choice, or necessity. Here's a look at the teams in transition in Week 6.
In the preseason, Derek Anderson won the battle of the bad QB over Matt Leinart, but after four-and-a-half games of providing a woeful passing attack, the Cardinals have replaced him as the starter with undrafted free-agent rookie QB Max Hall.
Anderson has completed only 51.8 percent of his passes for a mere 65 yards and a minuscule three TDs with five interceptions. Max Hall played in the team's Week 5 game against the New Orleans Saints, compiling a meager 168 yards passing and threw a pick, but WR Larry Fitzgerald had his best game of the season with seven catches for 93 yards.
More important than the hard stats is the way the team responded to the change. The team as a whole looked the best they have all season, and they got a win over a heavily-favored opponent. All in all, this appears to be the right move for the Cardinals. Only time will truly tell if Hall can be a successful starter in the NFL, but time has already told us that Anderson can't.
Since 2007, Edwards has thrown 25 TDs to 27 picks and hasn't managed to stay healthy for a whole season even once. After he started 2010 with two games of failing to throw for more than 200 yards and another 0-2 start, the Bills decided to make a change at the QB spot.
The team has decided to go with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starter, for now. He hasn't looked that much better than Edwards with the exception of the Week 3 game against the New England Patriots, and the Bills have still yet to win a game. However, they have holes at every position and are one of the league's two worst teams, so it isn't fair to put all of the blame on the QB.
Edwards has a strong arm, but that's about it. He never has done much in the NFL, and now he's gone from being the starter in Buffalo to backing up David Garrard in Jacksonville. It's impossible to rate this QB change for the Bills as their so bad all over the field. As for how it effects Edwards' career, barring an injury on a bad team at the QB position, his starting days in the league may be over.
The 1-4 Cleveland Browns is another team with more problems than just who's throwing the ball, but they couldn't have picked a worse time for both starting QB Jake Delhomme and backup Seneca Wallace to be injured in the same week. Neither Delhomme nor Wallace has looked very impressive, but starting either QB would be a better option than giving McCoy his first NFL start against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers' defense has played lights out football so far in 2010, and I'm sure they're just licking their chops at the prospect of terrorizing the rookie at home against their oldest division rival. The Browns have experienced nearly zero success against the Steelers in recent history, losing 12 straight games against them until they finally got a win last season after the Steelers were ravaged by injury.
The Steelers have gathered 11 sacks and six picks in only four games in 2010. Browns QBs have been sacked seven times this year, and if the Steelers' defense has anything to say about it, this number will go up substantially this week. Since this change is due to injury, the team gets a pass. However, I will say that this move appears to be a bad situation for both the team and McCoy. It certainly won't inspire confidence for the young man if he gets beat up all day, and a loss doesn't help the Browns any.
Matthew Stafford looked to have a successful sophomore season after a promising finish to his rookie year, but fate had other plans for the young QB. In a Week 1 game against the Chicago Bears, Stafford suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder and has been sidelined ever since.
Stafford did throw 20 picks last season in just 10 games, but he developed some good chemistry with star WR Calvin Johnson and TE Brandon Pettigrew. Lions fans were optimistic for his return this season, but they've had to put that optimism on hold for a few weeks because of the injury. Backup QB Shaun Hill has played okay in Stafford's absence, but the Lions are still just 1-4 and anticipating the return of their young leader.
Stafford is listed as questionable for this week's game against the New York Giants, but with the season already lost, there should be no rush to get him back on the field if he isn't at 100 percent. Add to that the persistent pass rush from the Giants, and there's no reason for him to risk an early comeback in Week 6.
Everyone knows of the troubling QB situation in Philadelphia by now, so I'll keep this one short. After being replaced in the lineup by Michael Vick after a Week 1 concussion, Kevin Kolb was back at the helm for the Eagles in Week 5. This week, the Eagles have a tough matchup against the Atlanta Falcons.
Vick is still experiencing pain in his ribs after injuring them in the first half of the Week 4 game against the Washington Redskins, but he is set on returning to the Eagles this week to play against his former team. Still, Kolb had a solid start last week against the 49ers in route to his first win as a starter in 2010.
This situation is far from settled, and if Kolb starts and wins while playing well this week, things could get worse before they get better. I don't know that the way things have transpired will benefit Kolb or the Eagles, but Vick has already upped his stock for his free agency in the upcoming offseason.
It should be a good game, no matter who ends up starting against the Falcons. Still, make sure to keep an eye open and fixed on the Eagles Sunday morning, as this is sure to come down to a gametime decision.
Many in the national media spotlight were picking the Raiders to be a much improved competitive team coming into the 2010 season even before they acquired Redskins' castaway QB Jason Campbell, and landing him only got them all more optimistic. However, things haven't worked out quite as expected.
After six quarters of poor play from Campbell to start the 2010 season, the Raiders made a change at QB by bringing in backup Bruce Gradkowski. Bruce made an immediate impact, getting a come-from-behind victory against the St. Louis Rams in Week 2. Campbell actually has a higher completion percentage than Gradkowski, but Gradkowski has the offense looking much more cohesive.
The Gradkowski-led Raiders have put up 23 or more points in all three of his starts, and they beat the San Diego Chargers 35-27 in Week 5 despite Chargers QB Philip Rivers throwing for over 400 yards in the contest.
Gradkowski was injured in the contest though, and all signs are pointing to Campbell getting the start against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 6. Switching to Gradkowski seems to be working for the Raiders, but now they look to be forced to hand the team back over to Campbell for at least one more start. If he plays well, we could have a full blown QB controversy as the team is now in a three-way tie for second place in the AFC West at 2-3, one-and-a-half games behind the division-leading Kansas City Chiefs.
After losing starting RB Ryan Grant to a season-ending injury in Week 1, QB Aaron Rodgers has been the only offense that the Packers have left. Now, it appears that they may have to play without him as well for a week. Rodgers suffered a concussion in the Packers' Week 5 overtime loss to the Washington Redskins.
If Rodgers can't go against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, the Packers will be forced to hand over the reigns of the team to 2008 seventh-round pick Matt Flynn for his first career start. Rodgers was cleared to practice on Thursday, but he still has a few hoops to jump through before he can get the okay to play in Sunday's game, and that could be a big blow for the team's playoff hopes this season.
The Packers are 3-2, one game behind the Chicago Bears for the division lead. Rodgers has 1,233 yards, nine TDs to only six picks, and a QB rating of 90.7 so far this season. Losing him for even one start could do serious damage to a team that has been maligned by several injuries already this year. The Packers' success rests solely on Rodgers' shoulders.
Matt Flynn had a solid college career in LSU, but he has taken next to zero snaps with the first team offense going into this week's practice. I'm not saying that he can't pull out a win, but with little help from his running game and injuries to the offensive line, it certainly doesn't look good for Flynn or the Green Bay Packers. This will be another gametime decision, but be on the lookout for a Matt Flynn sighting.
In Week 5, the Pittsburgh Steelers got the luxury of a bye week in preparation of two-time Super Bowl winning QB "Big Ben" Roethlisberger taking his first NFL snaps in 2010. The team overachieved in his absence, winning their first three games behind the healthy and talented Steelers' defense and heading into their bye week with a record of 3-1.
The Steelers started the season with QB Dennis Dixon at the helm, but in Week 2 Dixon was lost for the remainder of Ben's suspension due to injury. The team had to scramble to start long-time backup QB Charlie Batch in his place, but the Steelers didn't miss a beat. Batch threw three TD passes in the Steelers' Week 3 victory against the then undefeated Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the defense held Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson to a pathetic 34 yards rushing in their week two victory.
The Steelers lost a close one to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4, but a 3-1 record was more than even die hard Steelers fans were hoping for during Big Ben's four-game suspension. The Steelers were rolling without their franchise QB by giving up a staggering 12.5 points per game, and still managing to score 21.5 points per game.
Now the offense gets a huge boost with their leader making his return against the 1-4 Cleveland Browns, a team that they've only lost to once in their last 13 meetings. To top that off, as I earlier stated in this piece, it appears that rookie QB Colt McCoy will be the Browns' starter on Sunday.
Getting Roethlisberger back has a team that already looked to be one of the top five teams in the league looking like a Super Bowl contender, at least on paper. As long as everybody stays healthy, I can't see any team that looks any better than the Steelers do right now.
There's a great deal of speculation as to just how long Brett Favre's consecutive start streak will remain intact after Favre himself said he may take a game or two off to recover from inflamed tendinitis if his elbow doesn't start to feel better, but for now he'll stay off of this list.
If Favre misses a start, it'll send shock waves throughout the NFL community as well as all but guarantee the Vikings a failed 2010 campaign, but even without another Favre story, we'll have plenty of QB controversy to keep us debating our team's pros and cons for making the moves that they make.
Week 6 should be filled with intrigue and incredible football. I, for one, am excited to see how everything pans out on the ever changing NFL landscape. I wish the best of luck to all of the young QBs getting their shot at NFL stardom this week and all of the teams clambering to save their season. The winds of change are blowing, so grab a glider and take a ride. It should be a fun journey.