Hitting The Panic Switch Too Soon?

The move to replace Trent Edwards, a sign of panic? Chan Gailey is just one coach making the move this week. Are these decisions being made too hastily, or ...?

Funny thing, huh, about timing? Unless maybe your name is Trent Edwards or Matt Moore or Kevin Kolb. And then there's probably nothing funny at all about having been benched just two games into the season.

On Monday, this correspondent offered a column about how owners, at least in recent history, have decided against making hasty coaching changes. The rationale: Such in-season changes rarely make much of a difference, with the 63 "replacement" head coaches since the merger posting an aggregate record of just 134-293-1, a dismal success rate of only .314.

Grasping to create some offensive spark, John Fox in Carolina and Buffalo's Chan Gailey have reached for the panic button and, only a fortnight into the campaign have demoted Moore and Edwards, respectively. Then on Tuesday night, Andy Reid did the same thing, replacing Kolb with Michael Vick as the Philadelphia starter.

Suddenly, Kolb's concussion, from which he was cleared to play, probably has become a throbbing migraine again.

That's not to suggest that Fox's promotion of rookie Jimmy Clausen or the elevation of Ryan Fitzpatrick by Gailey aren't justified. Same with Reid's call. They're just unusual moves, coming at this early juncture of the year, that's all.

Then again, such hasty changes around the NFL seem to be coming at a fairly dizzying clip. The search for instant gratification, for offensive results right out of the chute, has turned the quarterback position into the equivalent Minute Rice.

And there's still a pretty good chance that Oakland will turn the job over to Bruce Gradkowski, who relieved starter Jason Campbell in the second half last Sunday, and rallied the Raiders to a victory. [Editor's Note: Gradkowski has since been named the starter]

Some guys, like Edwards and Moore and Kolb, haven't yet digested their microwave dinners for 2010 and they're being relegated to the leftover shelf.

And they may not be alone.

In Week 2 of the schedule, six backup quarterbacks played, and four of them replaced ineffective starters with their respective games still undecided. Three of the games were within 13 points or fewer when the switches were made.

Certainly, the quarterback spot isn't as untouchable as it once was and it doesn't offer the same kind of job security. That could have something to do with the fact there are a dozen starters this year who didn't open the 2009 season as No. 1 guys with their teams. And there are five starters with new franchises entirely.

The switches by Fox and Gailey on Monday, and Reid on Tuesday, likely won't send shivers throughout the NFL quarterback community. But there are a few more guys now who just might be looking over their shoulders.

The calls to the bullpen may have just begun.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for The Sports Xchange.


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