BWTB: Mallett and the history of mid-season starters


The Ryan Mallett era has begun. Well, it officially begins this Sunday in Cleveland, as Mallett will become the Houston Texans 10th starting quarterback in franchise history. Bill O'Brien announced the decision last week, opting to replace incumbent starter Ryan Fitzpatrick after nine games.

Mallett is the epitome of a blank canvas, having thrown only four passes in his professional career. After a highly acclaimed collegiate career at Arkansas, Mallett's NFL on-field action up to this point has been limited to preseason games and mop-up duty. That all changes on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium as Mallett will be at the helm of a Texans team looking to get back to the .500 mark.

Making a quarterback change midseason happens quite often in the NFL. So far in 2014, 12 teams have started multiple quarterbacks, either due to injury of ineffectiveness. Names like Kyle Orton, Michael Vick, Blake Bortles and Zach Mettenberger are among the many that have unseated their teams' original starter. The Texans and Mallett will add to that total this weekend.

Texans QB Ryan Mallett took the practice field for the first time as the starter on Monday.

A look back shows that some of the league's best quarterbacks got their first shot in this manner, launching Pro Bowl careers and even Super Bowl Championship runs.

Below are a few names you might recognize.

Colin Kaepernick, 2012 San Francisco 49ers (replaced Alex Smith)
It may be hard to believe now, but when Colin Kaepernick was selected in the second round of the 2011 draft, he was considered a long-term project. The former Nevada star took over the reins in his second season, replacing Alex Smith in week 11 of the 2012 campaign (Smith got injured). Ironically, Kaepernick's first start resulted in a 24-24 tie against the St. Louis Rams. From that point on Kaepernick had nothing but success, going 7-3 (including the postseason) that season and leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl. Kaepernick had a passer rating of 90.0-or-better in 8 of his 10 games that he started that season.

Since that point, he has become one of the league's top quarterbacks, throwing 44 touchdowns against only 16 interceptions. His career quarterback rating stands at 93.5.

Trent Dilfer, 2000 Baltimore Ravens (replaced Tony Banks)
To keep the Super Bowl theme going we move next to Trent Dilfer. Known more today for his work as an ESPN analyst, Dilfer found himself taking over an offense midseason.

Back in 2000, Dilfer signed with the Baltimore Ravens to backup Tony Banks. Banks and the Ravens offense struggled mightily in the first three games of the year, causing head coach Brian Billick to make the switch. Dilfer, who'd previously been a Pro Bowler during a stint in Tampa Bay, quickly righted the ship, winning seven straight to close out the year. The Ravens then made a magical run to the Super Bowl. That team, remembered for its historic defense, defeated the New York Giants 34-7 in Super Bowl XXXV. Dilfer, described as a 'game manager', completed more than 10 passes only once during that playoff run.

After that season, Dilfer would go on to play for the Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers, starting 29 games over the remaining six seasons of his career.

Tom Brady, 2001 New England Patriots (replaced Drew Bledsoe)
Perhaps the most famous sixth round pick in the history of the NFL Draft, Tom Brady was listed as the Patriots fourth string quarterback for much of his rookie season. A year later, Brady had become the team's backup and would take over the top spot during week three of the 2001 season. When starter Drew Bledsoe went down against the Jets, 'Tom Terrific' started what is now sure to be a Hall of Fame career. The Pats went on to win 11 of their next 14 games and Brady was selected to the Pro Bowl. More importantly, that 2001 Patriots team captured the first of three Super Bowl Championships in the Brady era, which is still ongoing. 

Brady's accomplishments are too long to list. When it is all said and done, he will go down as one best quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL.

Tony Romo, 2006 Dallas Cowboys (replaced Drew Bledsoe)
I promise, I'm not picking on Drew Bledsoe.  Tony Romo was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois back in 2003. He spent the next three years as the team's holder, working his way up the depth chart.

QB Ryan Mallet's career in Houston, New England, as well as at Arkansas and Michigan, is captured here in photos.

Five games into the 2006 season, Bill Parcells tabbed Romo as the starter. From there Romo flourished, throwing for 2,903 yards and leading the Cowboys to the postseason. Since that time, Romo has had a record-breaking career for the Cowboys. A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Romo holds single-season franchise records for touchdown passes (36), completions (335), yardage (4,211) and 300-yard games (seven). Romo is 47-30 as a starter.

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