If you ever wondered why it is so important for an NFL team to have stability and consistency in their quarterback situation, consider this: Eight of the 11 teams that won 10 or more games last season had quarterbacks that started all 16 of their games in the regular season.
Last season 17 QBs started every game for their team: Blake Bortles (Jacksonville), Tom Brady (New England), Teddy Bridgewater (Minnesota), Derek Carr (Oakland), Kirk Cousins (Washington), Ryan Fitzpatrick (N.Y. Jets), Eli Manning (N.Y. Giants), Cam Newton (Carolina), Carson Palmer (Arizona), Philip Rivers (San Diego), Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay), Matt Ryan (Atlanta), Alex Smith (Kansas City), Matthew Stafford (Detroit), Ryan Tannehill (Miami), Russell Wilson (Seattle) and Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay).
Here’s another great stat to ponder: The win-loss record of the 17 teams that started the same QB for all 16 games in 2015 was 150-122 (a .551 winning percentage). Those teams that started more than one QB last season were a combined 106-134 (.442 winning percentage). Again, QB stability and consistency does make a difference.
Starting all 16 games in a season is nothing new to a trio of NFL quarterbacks. Atlanta’s Matt Ryan has now started all 16 games for the Falcons in six straight seasons. That, however, is nowhere near the current active streak for most seasons starting at QB for a team. San Diego’s Philip Rivers has now gone 10 straight seasons starting all 16 games in a season for the Chargers. The current leader is Eli Manning who has been the Giants starting QB for all 16 games in 11 straight seasons. Eli has started all 16 games since 2005. In fact, the Giants had Kerry Collins start all 16 of their games in a season each year from 2000-02, but then went two campaigns with multiple starting QBs in a season before Manning started his streak in 2005.
The Giants are one of three teams that have started the same QB in all 16 games in a season for 14 of the last 16 seasons… since 2000. The other two teams are the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots. Here’s a breakdown of how many seasons since 2000 that each team has had one QB start all 16 games in a season.
14: Indianapolis, New England, N.Y. Jets
13: Green Bay, San Diego
12: New Orleans
9: Baltimore, Detroit
8: Atlanta, Carolina, N.Y. Jets
7: Denver, Houston, San Francisco, Seattle
6: Buffalo, Dallas, Kansas City, Miami, Minnesota, Tampa Bay
5: Arizona, Oakland, Pittsburgh
4: Jacksonville, Philadelphia, St. Louis
2: Chicago, Tennessee
It should come as no surprise that the Browns, last on the above list, have the fewest wins over the last 16 years. At the other end, of the six teams (Green Bay, Indianapolis, New England, New Orleans, N.Y. Giants and San Diego) that had 12 or more seasons since 2000 starting the same QB in all 16 games, won nine Super Bowls since that 2000 season. Secondly, of these six teams, five rank in the Top 10 of most wins since 2000 (San Diego is the only one not in the Top 10; they rank 11th).
Cleveland, which has had 24 different starting QBs since 2000, has not had the same QB start all 16 games in a season since Tim Couch in 2001.
One final stat: Of the 16 Super Bowl winners since the 2000 season, nine went the whole year in their Super Bowl winning season with the same QB starting all 16 regular season contests. Last year’s Super Bowl champs, the Denver Broncos, had Peyton Manning start nine games and Brock Osweiler start seven.