When NFL franchises change head coaches or general managers, the common thought is that teams will likely change their starting quarterbacks as well. Typically when a coach and/or general manager is sent packing, it's ultimately because the team is in need of a quarterback. There are occasions when a coach or general manager gets fired with a good quarterback on the roster, but that's generally because the coach or general manager is so inept in other areas that it weighs down the rest of the team.
But, how often does a team actually change their starting quarterback when there is a change in the leadership of the team?
I took a look at teams who have changed either their head coach, general manager, or both in the past five seasons and discovered, to no surprise, that the majority of teams also made a switch at the quarterback position either immediately or following their initial season with the team. The only times a switch was not made within the first two offseasons were in special circumstances, such as a team already having an established starter at the position or a team having a massive contract sunk in the player.
Head Coach Change Only - 63.6 percent
Looking back over the past five seasons, seven of the eleven teams who have changed just head coaches wound up replacing their starting quarterback immediately, be it via trade, draft or free agency. The four teams who didn't had either just drafted a quarterback or had a serviceable starter already in place.
Of the four teams who didn't, however, three replaced their quarterback the following season.
General Manager Change Only - 60 percent
Using the same period of time if you look back, three teams out of five who changed just their general manager wound up changing their starting quarterback via either trade, draft or free agency immediately. Typically with a new general manager running the show, you're going to see them want to bring in their own quarterback.
General Manager And Head Coach Change - 60 percent
The biggest surprise in all of this was how often a new head coach and general manager in the same year didn't immediately replace their starting quarterback. Only nine of the 15 teams who did so immediately replaced their starting quarterback, but of those six teams who didn't immediately replace their starter, four of those teams did so immediately following their initial season with the incumbent.
The only teams that didn't replace their starting quarterback after a complete overhaul of head coach and general manager were the St. Louis Rams, who decided to keep Sam Bradford, and the San Diego Chargers with Philip Rivers. Bradford has shown to be serviceable thus far in his career and he also earns a big salary from being the first overall pick in the draft in 2010. Rivers might be on the decline in his career, but he's been a top starter for the past few seasons and has gotten the team into the playoffs in the past.
Of this list, there is one team whose quarterback situation is completely unknown at this point and their status was not included. The Jacksonville Jaguars hired both a new head coach and general manager this offseason but hold the second overall pick in the draft. They've done nothing so far in free agency or via trade to address the position, so the assumption is it will be addressed in the 2013 NFL Draft at some point.
If the Jaguars wind up replacing Blaine Gabbert as the starter in 2013, it will mean that 62.5 percent of teams in the past five seasons who've made sweeping changes also replaced their starting quarterback immediately.
|2007||Ravens||Brian Billick||Ozzie Newsome||Steve McNair||2008||John Harbaugh||Ozzie Newsome||Joe Flacco|
|2007||Falcons||Bobby Petrino||Rich McKay||Joey Harrington*||2008||Mike Smith||Thomas Dimitroff||Matt Ryan|
|2008||Buccaneers||Jon Gruden||Bruce Allen||Jeff Garcia||2009||Raheem Morris||Mark Dominik||Josh Freeman|
|2008||Chiefs||Herm Edwards||Carl Peterson||Tyler Thigpen*||2009||Todd Haley||Scott Pioli||Matt Cassel|
|2008||Jets||Eric Mangini||Mike Tannenbaum||Brett Favre||2009||Rex Ryan||Mike Tannenbaum||Mark Sanchez|
|2008||Lions||Rod Marinelli||Matt Millen||Jon Kitna*||2009||Jim Schwartz||Martin Mayhew||Matt Stafford|
|2008||Jaguars||Jack Del Rio||Shack Harris||David Garrard||2009||Jack Del Rio||Gene Smith||David Garrard|
|2008||Rams||Scott Linehan||Jay Zygmunt||Marc Bulger||2009||Steve Spagnuolo||Billy Devaney||Marc Bulger^|
|2008||Raiders||Lane Kiffin||Al Davis||JaMarcus Russell||2009||Tom Cable||Al Davis||JaMarcus Russell^|
|2008||Broncos||Mike Shanahan||Jim Goodman||Jay Cutler||2009||Josh McDaniels||Brian Xanders||Kyle Orton|
|2009||Seahawks||Jim Mora||Tim Ruskell||Matt Hasselbeck||2010||Pete Carroll||Pete Carroll||Matt Hasselbeck^|
|2009||Redskins||Jim Zorn||Vinny Ceratto||Jason Campbell||2010||Mike Shanahan||Mike Shanahan||Donovan McNabb^|
|2009||Bills||Dick Jauron||Tom Modrak||Ryan Fitzpatrick||2010||Chan Gailey||Buddy Nix||Trent Edwards*|
|2010||Raiders||Tom Cable||Al Davis||Jason Campbell||2011||Hue Jackson||Al Davis||Carson Palmer|
|2010||Panthers||John Fox||Marty Hurney||Jimmy Clausen*||2011||Ron Rivera||Marty Hurney||Cam Newton|
|2010||Broncos||Josh McDaniels||Brian Xanders||Kyle Orton||2011||John Fox||Brian Xanders||Tim Tebow^|
|2010||49ers||Mike Singletary||Scot McCloughan||Alex Smith||2011||Jim Harbaugh||Trent Baalke||Alex Smith^|
|2010||Rams||Steve Spagnuolo||Billy Devaney||Sam Bradford||2011||Jeff Fisher||Les Snead||Sam Bradford|
|2011||Jaguars||Jack Del Rio||Gene Smith||Blaine Gabbert||2012||Mike Mularkey||Gene Smith||Blaine Gabbert|
|2011||Bears||Lovie Smith||Jerry Angelo||Jay Cutler||2012||Lovie Smith||Phil Emery||Jay Cutler|
|2011||Broncos||John Fox||Brian Xanders||Tim Tebow*||2012||John Fox||John Elway||Peyton Manning|
|2011||Bucs||Raheem Morris||Mark Dominik||Josh Freeman||2012||Greg Schiano||Mark Dominik||Josh Freeman|
|2011||Dolphins||Tony Sparano||Jeff Ireland||Chad Henne*||2012||Joe Philbin||Jeff Ireland||Ryan Tannehill|
|2011||Chiefs||Todd Haley||Scott Pioli||Matt Cassel||2012||Romeo Crennel||Scott Pioli||Matt Cassel|
|2012||Chiefs||Romeo Crennel||Scott Pioli||Matt Cassel||2013||Andy Reid||John Dorsey||Alex Smith(?)|
|2012||Raiders||Hue Jackson||Al Davis||Carson Palmer||2013||Bruce Allen||Reggie McKenzie||Matt Flynn(?)|
|2012||Bills||Chan Gailey||Buddy Nix||Ryan Fitzpatrick||2013||Doug Marrone||Buddy Nix||Kevin Kolb(?)|
|2012||Bears||Lovie Smith||Phil Emery||Jay Cutler||2013||Marc Trestman||Phil Emery||Jay Cutler|
|2012||Cardinals||Ken Wisenhunt||Rod Graves||Kevin Kolb*||2013||Bruce Arians||Steve Keim||Drew Stanton(?)|
|2012||Jaguars||Mike Mularkey||Gene Smith||Blaine Gabbert*||2013||Gus Bradley||Dave Caldwell||Blaine Gabbert (?)|
|2012||Chargers||Norv Turner||A.J. Smith||Phillip Rivers||2013||Mike McCoy||Tom Telesco||Phillip Rivers|
|^ - indicates QB was replaced the following season
* - indicates multiple QBs played that season
? - indicates QB at this point is unknown or assumed
With the NFL being a quarterback league now, if your team is making changes at the top, the recent trends say that a change at the quarterback position is coming either immediately or the following season. Coaching and general manager jobs now are made and undone at the quarterback position, so unless your team is set at the quarterback position and makes a change... a change at the quarterback position is coming.
It's the most important position on the field and can have the biggest impact on a team, as the chart above shows, new coaches and general managers in power want to live and die with their own quarterback, unless it's a special circumstance.