No patience with starting NFL QBs this year

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 22, 2010; 12:33 AM

There hasn't been much patience in the early stages of this NFL season for quarterbacks who fail to produce.

Five quarterbacks who started games last weekend were benched by their coaches before day's end. Three teams already have announced starting quarterback changes this week, including the Philadelphia Eagles' abrupt switch Tuesday from Kevin Kolb to Michael Vick.

Throw in a couple of injuries and Ben Roethlisberger's suspension from the Pittsburgh Steelers and about one-fourth of the league's 32 teams have gone, at least temporarily, to Plan B at quarterback just two games into the season.

"We're in a knee-jerk society and football has become a knee-jerk game," said former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann. "People ask me how the game has become different. It's the instability of jobs. As a coach, your job depends on about eight games. As a quarterback, it's about two quarters."

The changes come even as stellar play by some quarterbacks continues after a record year for passers in 2009. Seven quarterbacks currently have passer ratings above 100. Last Sunday's benchings came on the same day that the Redskins' Donovan McNabb and Houston's Matt Schaub combined for 923 passing yards in a game.

All that success league-wide may only heighten the anxiety level for teams that aren't putting up big offensive numbers.

Theismann said the quarterback play on some clubs needs drastic improvement.

"A lot of guys who fall into the category of journeyman, they're not thinking their way through the game," Theismann said. "If you don't have the strongest arm or you don't run the fastest, you have to make good decisions."

The quarterback moves came rapidly last Sunday. Coaches pulled Oakland's Jason Campbell, Carolina's Matt Moore, Tennessee's Vince Young, Jacksonville's David Garrard and Arizona's Derek Anderson.

So far, only one of the five benchings has been made permanent. Panthers Coach John Fox announced Monday that Moore will be replaced by rookie Jimmy Clausen, a second-round draft choice out of Notre Dame. Moore was given less than two games to prove himself in what was supposed to be his first full season as an NFL starter after Jake Delhomme's offseason departure. He threw four interceptions, lost two fumbles and was sacked eight times, and the Panthers are off to an 0-2 start.

Raiders Coach Tom Cable declined to say Monday whether Campbell will be replaced as the starter by Bruce Gradkowski, who took over in the second half Sunday and engineered a victory over the St. Louis Rams.

The Raiders obtained Campbell in an offseason trade with the Redskins. Raiders owner Al Davis praised Campbell before the season, saying in a radio interview that Campbell reminded him of Jim Plunkett, who won two Super Bowls with the franchise. Now it appears possible that the Campbell era in Oakland will have lasted less than two games.

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