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09-26-2010, 11:37 AM
Klis: The NFL's quarterback carousel
Mike Klis
covers the NFL. Contact: 303-954-1055 or mklis@denverpost.com
POSTED: 09/26/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT

Clay Matthews III leads the NFL with six sacks, not bad for a guy who didn't get a scholarship until his third year of college. (Jim Prisching, The Associated Press )
Let's merge the logical reasoning of then with the certainty of today.

Back on oh, let's say April 23, to pick a day after the NFL draft's first round the spirit of Jimmy the Greek said entering Game 3 of the 2010 NFL season that 10 starting quarterbacks would have been replaced, including seven for poor performance.

Who might have been your first guess for this future list of the fallen 10?

Shame, shame.

The Broncos' Kyle Orton is now one of the NFL's most secure quarterbacks.

Two rookie quarterbacks will be starting today, as many might have guessed back on April 23.

But the starters will be No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford and second-round selection Jimmy Clausen. Not Tim Tebow, the Broncos' first-round pick on April 22. Brady Quinn, a first-round pick in 2007, won't be starting, either.
The NFL quarterbacks who have already been benched because of performance: Oakland's Jason Campbell, Buffalo's Trent Edwards, Arizona's Derek Anderson, Jacksonville's David Garrard, Tennessee's Vince Young and Carolina's Matt Moore.

Additionally, Philadelphia's Michael Vick replaced Kevin Kolb for both injury and performance reasons.

From this group, the most predictable benchings were to Anderson, Edwards and Moore. Anderson and Edwards play their way out every year. Moore got the job without enough proof.

As for the most shocking demotion, with apologies to Campbell and Young, it has to be Garrard. He was his usual Broncos-destroyer self in Week 1, throwing three touchdowns and no picks.

That winning performance didn't even get him to the fourth quarter in Game 2.

Even though Josh McCown, his replacement last week, suffered a season-ending knee injury, Garrard is now officially a quarterback on borrowed time.

The three quarterbacks who are playing because of injuries are Cleveland's Seneca Wallace, Detroit's Shaun Hill and Pittsburgh's Charlie Batch, who replaced the injured Dennis Dixon, who replaced the suspended Ben Roethlisberger.

One-third of the NFL already has a quarterback controversy in Week 3. Yet, football's ultimate drama is nowhere near Denver. Back on April 23, who would have thought?

Road to Dallas.

One of these six teams is a virtual cinch to play in Super Bowl XLV: New Orleans, Miami, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Houston and Chicago. Why them? They all are 2-0, and at least one team that started 2-0 has reached the Super Bowl going back to the 1988 season.

Actually, there are eight 2-0 teams, but neither Tampa Bay nor Kansas City are reaching the Super Bowl.

Lions chasing Lions.

They can do it. The Lions of the late part of the decade can break the futility record of the early-decade Lions. The current Lions have lost 21 consecutive road games entering their game today at Minnesota. The NFL record for the longest road losing streak is 24, held by the Lions from 2001-04.
Colts chasing Braves.

What the Atlanta Braves were to baseball in the 1990s, the Indianapolis Colts have been to football in the 2000s unprecedented regular-season dominance, but only one world championship to show for it.

Among the many convincing stats related to the Colts' regular-season "dynasty" is they have led in 62 of their 66 games since the start of 2006.

Even the exceptions speak to the Colts' dominance: One, in a late-season 2006 game against Houston, it was 24-24 when Kris Brown kicked a 48-yard field goal at the gun. Two, despite six Peyton Manning interceptions in a driving rain at San Diego, the Colts lost 23-21 after Adam Vinatieri, one of the NFL's all-time best clutch kickers, missed a late, 29-yard field goal. And three, the Colts used their No. 1 playoff seed to essentially forfeit their finale at Buffalo last season.

That means the Colts have only been truly defeated once in four years their 34-24 loss to Houston in the 2010 opener.

That Manning still threw for 433 yards in that game must have fantasy leaguers wondering: What would his stats look like if he occasionally played from behind?

As it is, Manning is only 659 yards behind John Elway, who is third on the all-time list with 51,475 passing yards.


All-time best backup running backs

In honor of the Broncos' Knowshon Moreno going down and Correll Buckhalter and Laurence Maroney moving up, here are five of the NFL's best backup runners:

Year Backup Starter Team
1964-65 Leroy Kelly Jim Brown Browns
Kelly had just 43 carries his first two years behind Brown, who was the NFL's all-time best back. After Brown retired, Kelly stepped in and made his own Hall of Fame career.

2006 Michael Turner L. Tomlinson Chargers
Turner rushed for 502 yards on only 80 carries (6.3 average). If only Tomlinson didn't rush for 1,815 and a record 28 TDs. Turner had 1,699 yards, 17 TDs in first year as starter for Atlanta in 2008.

1971 Mercury Morris Jim Kiick Dolphins
Dolphins lost the Super Bowl with Morris (315 yards) backing up Kiick (738 yards rushing, 338 yards receiving). Morris started ahead of Kiick in '72 and had 1,000 yards in a 17-0 season.

1999 Olandis Gary Terrell Davis Broncos
Gary, a rookie, didn't play in the first four games. When Davis suffered a career-altering knee injury in Game 4, Gary started in Game 5 and finished with 1,159 yards 96.6 yards per game.

1992 Marcus Allen/Eric Dickerson Nick Bell Raiders
Leave it to Al Davis to bench two Hall of Famers for Bell, who finished with 853 career yards. Thing is, Bell would rush for less than 100 yards and Raiders would win. Allen escaped to K.C. and had five more productive seasons.

EYE ON . . .

Clay Matthews III, LB, Packers

What's up: The season is only two games old, and already Matthews has six sacks. Six! Three in each of Green Bay's wins.

Background: Undersized in high school, he was benched by his coach and father Clay Jr., a 19-year NFL linebacker. Clay III walked on at USC and didn't get a scholarship until his third year, in 2006. He didn't start until his senior redshirt season, although even then he was overshadowed by fellow linebackers Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga. Packers took him in the first round, No. 26 overall, in 2009. He had 10 sacks in rookie year.

Klis' take: For the Denver Post's 2009 draft preview, I listed a linebacker for both a sleeper and overrated category. I chose Matthews for . . . overrated. I wrote: "Has the bloodlines but a former walk-on who had only 10 starts, none before 2008." My sleeper? Connor Barwin, Houston's second- round pick who suffered a season-ending dislocated ankle injury in the 2010 opener. Next thing you know, The Denver Post hires Jeff Legwold.


Phillips feeling big-time heat

Who: Wade Phillips, Cowboys coach

When: 11 a.m. today, when the 0-2 Cowboys meet the 2-0 Houston Texans at Houston's Reliant Stadium.

Why: In a season in which Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is hosting the Super Bowl, it's not a good time to start 0-2 for the first time since 2001. And it's not a good time for the Cowboys to take on their in-state rival at a time when the Texans already have posted impressive wins against Indy at home and Washington on the road. If the Cowboys lose this game, Phillips' days could be numbered.


1. Bears: Cutler playing well, but healthy Urlacher may be biggest difference.

2. Bucs: Ronde Barber, 35, has two picks two more than last year.

3. Dolphins: Marshall getting his catches, and defense tied for league-best at 10.0 points per game.


1. Panthers: A popular pick for deep playoff run, but they've had major QB issues.

2. Bills: Predictably bad on offense considering QB problems. Will take 0-2 record into New England today. Ugh.

3. Cowboys: The NFL's biggest team has 42 rushes against 100 passes in 0-2 start.

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