Injuries taking a serious toll on quarterback position

  • By Pat Kirwan
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When I was in the front office of an NFL team we always said we could never have enough running backs. In 2007, the same can be said about quarterbacks.

As of Monday, nine teams had two quarterbacks on their active rosters: Arizona, Denver, Green Bay, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New Orleans, St. Louis and Tennessee. And three of those -- the Packers, Texans and Saints -- don't even have a practice squad QB, which makes them even more vulnerable.

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While quarterbacks continue to miss time with injuries this season, Brett Favre has managed to extend his record consecutive starts streak to 242 games.

Heading into the sixth week of a 17-week schedule, the quarterback position looks like a MASH unit.

Already, 13 teams -- Buffalo, Carolina, Kansas City, Minnesota, Arizona, Saint Louis, Oakland, San Francisco, Miami, Baltimore, Detroit, the Giants and the Jets -- have had to dip into the depth chart for help. Add the Bears and Browns, who felt compelled to make a change at QB, and you're looking at close to half the league -- after just five weeks -- under stress at the position.

The Giants dodged a bullet when Eli Manning hurt his shoulder in the season opener but returned without missing a game. Carolina and Arizona weren't so lucky. And how long can Jon Kitna stay on his feet while continuing to get sacked at his current rate (nearly five times a game)?

Longest consecutive starts streak for a QB
No. Quarterback Team Years Starts
1. Brett Favre GB 1992-07 242
2. Peyton Manning IND 1998-07 149
3. Ron Jaworski PHI 1977-84 116
4. Joe Ferguson BUF 1977-84 107
5. Tom Brady NE 2001-07 98

As I look at the position, there are 53 quarterbacks who have played in games this season. In other words, 21 backups have seen action in games in the first five weeks.

The Panthers just announced that Jake Delhomme is headed for IR. At least his backup, David Carr, was a starter in the league, but did you ever hear of Carolina's third QB, Matt Moore? He's one injury away from being the Panthers' starter, and don't forget Carr, before hitting Steve Smith for a game-tying, 17-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter on Sunday, left the game for a while with an injury to his back.

Arizona was lucky they were in the platoon system when Matt Leinart broke his collarbone. At least Kurt Warner was ready to go, but the Cardinals don't have a third QB on their roster and now they're going to have to really scramble to find one who can actually play in a game. The trading deadline is Oct. 16, which doesn't leave much time, even if you could find a QB to trade for at this late date.

The Raiders are sitting pretty right now and the phone should start ringing off the hook. Whatever you thought of Andrew Walter before now, throw that thought out the window. With four quarterbacks on the roster there's a chance Walter could go if Josh McCown is healthy enough to return, but the Raiders aren't going to get caught short. Heck, they're in first place in the AFC West right now.

Tampa Bay is the only other team with four quarterbacks on its roster, and the Bucs own the rights to Jake Plummer, which makes five. I wonder what Plummer would be worth if he decided retirement was starting to bore him? I don't think the Bucs would trade him, but you never know. I wonder if Chris Simms is feeling ready to go and if the Bucs would let a team see him throw?

Is someone going to call Aaron Brooks or Drew Bledsoe instead? How about hitting up the practice squads. Here are the guys on the practice squads who are eligible to sign anywhere they want to go, but I must warn you the list isn't pretty.

There are 10 quarterbacks currently on practice squads around the league with little or no NFL experience. The Cardinals can activate their practice squad QB, Lang Campbell, for protection against another injury, but making a playoff run with him is a different story. With Jake Delhomme headed to IR, the Panthers can activate Quinton Porter if they need a third guy.

That leaves Rich Bartel, Darrell Hackney, Josh Betts, Lester Ricard, Brett Ratliff, David Green, Gibran Hamden and Martin Ingle. Combined, these guys have completed one pass in the NFL in two attempts for 7 yards. I don't think the answer for most teams is sitting on a practice squad.

If nothing else, this season has taught us that, in a flash, a team can go from feeling comfortable to panicking if its QB is hurt, or worse, headed for injured reserve.

Unless a team is 0-5, it has a chance to stay in the playoff hunt if it has a quarterback who can throw the ball and run the club. Remember what Jeff Garcia did last year in Philadelphia? I wonder if the Rams wish they still had Ryan Fitzpatrick, whom they traded to Cincinnati?

Dallas, New England and Indianapolis really have no place to turn if something happens to their starting quarterback. Before the end of the season, don't be surprised to see some former teacher -- or grocery bagger (remember Warner's background?) -- leading a team into the playoffs, at the pace we're going.



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