Quarterbacking in the NFL just isn’t what it used to be.
While players like Drew Bledsoe, Brett Favre, Jeff Garcia and Rich Gannon are on top of their game, much of the league is experiencing turmoil at the position. The Dolphins are one of 15 teams to have used two different starting quarterbacks, with four franchises (Washington, Cincinnati, Carolina and St. Louis) even reduced to fielding their third-stringers just nine weeks into the season.
Just as telling is how impatient teams have become with their quarterbacks. Only four franchises —Green Bay (Favre), Jacksonville (Mark Brunell), Tennessee (Steve McNair), and Arizona (Jake Plummer)— have the same starter since the 1997 season. More than half in the league (18 of 32) have held that role with their respective team for less than 1 season.
Nobody has done the quarterback shuffle more with his respective team than Pittsburgh’s Kordell Stewart. He became a starter in 1997, was benched at the end of the 1999 season, rejoined Pittsburgh’s first-team offense for 11 games in the 2000 campaign and then earned Pro Bowl honors the following year. But after struggling early this season, Stewart was permanently replaced by Tommy Maddox midway through the third game.
“The first time, it hurt,” Stewart said. “The second time, you’re kind of ticked off a little bit. The third time, you become immune to it to a point. You say, `Well, it is what it is. It happened before. I just have to take care of me and get myself prepared for when the opportunity comes.’
— Alex Marvez, South Florida Sun-Sentinel “Stewart waits for next spin.”