The quarterback position is being played as well as it ever has before, but that doesn't mean there aren't still some awful QB's bringing the league's stats down. The Colts, amazingly, have two of them. If John Beck's 0-7 lifetime record looks bad, consider this: Curtis Painter has lost all eight of his NFL starts, putting him only two losses away from Brodie Croyle, whose 0-10 record is the worst of any quarterback without a win. And Painter has just been benched in favor of Dan Orlovsky, who has an 0-7 lifetime record. No matter who starts the final five games for the Colts, either Painter or Orlovsky has a chance to finish the year with the worst winless record in NFL history. In Orlovsky's case, he truly would become the most ignominious quarterback ever, since it was he who finished the season as the starting quarterback on the 0-16 Detroit Lions. If the Colts go 0-16, becoming only the second team to do so, and Orlovsky winds up being the final starter on both teams, with the worst lifetime record ever at 0-12, he'll have to go down as the least successful quarterback of all time, if not outright worse than Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell.
Still, let's go back and consider for a second that through 11 games, Peyton Manning's backup quarterbacks have a combined lifetime record of 0-15. Is that a coincidence? Perhaps, but perhaps not. In the spirit of the Kennedy assassination, which had its 48th anniversary last week, what are the odds that Colts Vice Chairman Bill Polian picked Painter and Orlovsky to be Manning's backups specifically so the Colts could wind up with a high draft pick? It sounds crazy, but at the same time, the Colts seemed woefully unprepared to handle Manning's absence, almost too much so. The Patriots at least had a competent backup in Matt Cassel waiting in the wings when Tom Brady was lost for the season, but the Colts had to go out and get Kerry Collins before they turned to Painter. Bringing Collins out of retirement was curious -- why even have Painter on the roster if they didn't intend to actually use him as Manning's replacement?
Maybe the answer was that Painter was a contingency plan all along, a last case scenario to be used only when the season was truly out of reach, and sure enough, he was subbed in for Collins the moment people realized this team was going nowhere. I might just be inventing this (okay, I am), but if Bill Polian truly wanted to wreck the season and wind up with Andrew Luck's draft rights, would he have done anything different than he has so far? It does seem pretty odd that a franchise as consistently spot on as the Colts, with nine consecutive 10-win seasons, would really put their hands in the fate of Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky as Plan B. Painter just went almost five full games without a touchdown pass -- surely, this same player didn't fool anyone coming into the season, when they immediately signed Kerry Collins. And surely they could have come up with a better backup-backup than the 0-7 Orlovsky.
This is all complete speculation on my part, but if it's true, Bill Polian is nothing short of a genius. He realized that if the Colts are going to lose this year, they might as well lose as epically as possible, allowing them to wind up with the most coveted rookie quarterback in several decades. But again, that's only an if.