Ben Roethlisberger started the first nine games of the season, but things are getting ugly quickly in Pittsburgh. After suffering a right shoulder injury and bruising his ribs against the Chiefs, Byron Leftwich started last weekend against the Ravens. Leftwich injured his ribs against Baltimore, leaving Pittsburgh to now turn to Charlie Batch against the Browns tomorrow.
When was the last time a team started three different quarterbacks in consecutive games? Three teams last year pulled off that feat. After Jason Campbell started the first six games of the season, Kyle Boller started the next week before the team permanently switched to Carson Palmer.
Matt Schaub was the Texans starting quarterback for ten games, but a foot injury ended his season. Matt Leinart took over, but a broken collarbone ended his season, leaving the reins in the hands of rookie T.J. Yates. In St. Louis, an ankle injury caused Sam Bradford to miss a December game against the 49ers, leaving A.J. Feeley to start. Feely injured his right thumb, but Bradford was back the next week. He would miss the rest of the year due to his ankle, though, and Kellen Clemens started the last three games.
So it’s actually not all that rare for a team to go with three different quarterbacks in three weeks; at some point this season, it’s possible the Cardinals will, as well, with John Skelton, Ryan Lindley, and Kevin Kolb. From 2000 to 2011, teams started three different quarterbacks in consecutive games on 36 different occasions:
Excluding the 1987 season, the 1974 49ers were the only team since the merger to start four different quarterbacks in four weeks. As you can imagine, their story is interesting. Joe Reed entered the season as the starter, after splitting time with a 38-year-old John Brodie (who retired after the season) and Steve Spurrier (who suffered a severely dislocated shoulder in the final pre-season game in ’74) in 1973. He started the first three games of the year, and played miserably, so the team moved on to Dennis Morrison, who had been a 14th-round draft selection in 1973.
Morrison started the 4th and 5th games of the season for the 49ers, which is when the streak began. Morris started game five in Detroit, but threw three interceptions, so in week 6, the 49ers went back to Reed. Reed went 2/8 for 1 interception and was promptly traded later that week. So in week 7, 13th-round rookie Tom Owen started the game and performed reasonably well, but he was just the interim quarterback. That’s because in connection with the Reed trade, San Francisco acquired Norm Snead from the Giants, who sent Snead to San Francisco after acquiring Craig Morton from Dallas. Injuries and ineffectiveness limited Snead to just that one start for the 49ers in ’74, however, and Owen would go on to play (somewhat competently) for the remainder of the year.