The myth of 'roster churn'

A few months ago, a day or so after the start of the 2015 NFL free agency period, I was listening to a sports radio show and a caller made a comment as to the fact that a team couldn't win a championship without continuity on its roster, coaching staff and organization. In particular, he opined that no team could be successful with so much upheaval on a roster. I remembered that call as the off-season continued and often wondered how accurate he was. At first glance, I didn't think it was on point, but decided to put it to the test.

So, I compared the 2015 probable starting lineup for the Texans and the starting lineup in October 2013. Less than two short years ago, how much turnover actually has taken place in that short time


2015 Houston Texans PROBABLE Starting lineup (2013 starter)

QB - Ryan Mallett/Brian Hoyer (Matt Schaub)

RB - Arian Foster

FB - Jay Prosch (Greg Jones)

WR - DeAndre Hopkins

WR - Cecil Shorts/Jaelen Strong/Nate Washington (Andre Johnson)

TE - Owen Daniels (Garrett Graham)

LT - Duane Brown

LG - Xavier Su'a-Filo (Wade Smith)

C - Ben Jones (Chris Myers)

RG - Brandon Brooks

RT - Derek Newton

DE - JJ Watt

DT - Vince Wilfork (Earl Mitchell)

DE - Jared Crick (Antonio Smith)

OLB - Whitney Mercilus

ILB - Brian Cushing

ILB - Akeem Dent/Mike Mohamed/B. McKinney (Joe Mays)

OLB - Jadeveon Clowney (Brooks Reed)

CB - Johnathan Joseph

S - Rahim Moore (Ed Reed)

S - Eddie Pleasant/Stevie Brown (DJ Swearinger)

CB - Kareem Jackson

12 different starters (6 on offense, 6 on defense)

A little more than half of the starting lineup was turned over, with six each on offense and defense. Knowing the league turns rosters/lineups over frequently, I didn't think that was significant but needed a comparison.

How does the Texans roster churn relate to the rest of the AFC South? Well, Indianapolis, the AFC South champs the past two years, has turned over ⅔ of their starting lineup in just under two years. The results for the three other AFC South teams are below.

2015 Indianapolis Colts PROBABLE Starting lineup (2013 starter)

QB - Andrew Luck

RB - Frank Gore (Vick Ballard)

WR - T.Y Hilton (FB - Stanley Havili)

WR - Andre Johnson (Reggie Wayne)

WR - Donte Moncrief (Darrius Hayward-Bey)

TE - Dwayne Allen/Coby Fleener

LT - Anthony Castonzo

LG - Jack Mewhort (Donald Thomas)

C - Jonotthon Harrison (Samson Satele)

RG - Todd Herremans (Mike McGlynn)

RT - Gosder Cherlius

DE - Kendall Langford (Cory Redding)

NT - Josh Chapman (Aubrayo Franklin)

DT - Arthur Jones (Ricky Jean-Francois)

OLB - Trent Cole (Erik Walden)

ILB - D'Qwell Jackson (Kelvin Sheppard)

ILB - Jerrell Freeman

OLB - Robert Mathis

CB - Greg Toler

S - Mike Adams (Antoine Bethea)

S - Dwight Lowery (LaRon Landry)

CB - Vontae Davis

14 different starters (7 on offense, 7 on defense)

2015 Jacksonville Jaguars PROBABLE Starting lineup (2013 starter)

QB - Blake Bortles (Blaine Gabbert)

RB - Toby Gerhart (MJD)

WR - Allen Hurns (FB - Will Ta'ufo'ou)

WR - Marqise Lee (Cecil Shorts)

WR - Allen Robinson (Stephen Burton)

TE - Marcedes Lewis

LT - Luke Joeckel

LG - Zane Beadles (Will Rackley)

C - Luke Bowanko (Brad Meester)

RG - Brandon Linder (Uche Nwaneri)

RT - Jeremy Parnell (Eugene Monroe)

DE - Tyson Alualu

DT - Jared Odrick (Roy Miller)

DT - Sen'Derrick Marks

DE - Chris Clemons (Jason Babin)

OLB - Dan Skuta (Russell Allen)

MLB - Paul Posluszny

OLB - Telvin Smith (Geno Hayes)

CB - Demetrius McCray

S - Jonathan Cyprien

S - Sergio Brown (Dwight Lowery)

CB - Dwayne Gratz (Will Blackmon)

15 different starters (9 on offense, 6 on defense)

2015 Tennessee Titans PROBABLE Starting lineup (2013 starter)

QB - Marcus Mariota (Jake Locker)

RB - Bishop Sankey (Chris Johnson)

RB - Dorin Dickerson (Collin Mooney)

WR - Kendall Wright (Nate Washington)

WR - Justin Hunter (Kenny Britt)

TE - Delanie Walker

LT - Taylor Lewan (Michael Roos)

LG - Andy Levitre

C - Brian Schwenke (Rob Turner)

RG - Chance Warmack

RT - Byron Stingily (David Stewart)

DE - Ropati Pitoitua

NT - Sammie Hill

DT - Jurrell Casey

OLB - Derrick Morgan

ILB - Wesley Woodyard (Akeem Ayers)

ILB - Avery Williamson (Moise Fokou)

OLB - Brian Orakpo (Zach Brown)

CB - Perrish Cox (Alterraun Verner)

S - Da'Norris Searcy (Bernard Pollard)

S - Michael Griffin

CB - Jason McCourty

13 different starters (8 on offense, 5 on defense)

That's right, 42 starting lineup changes in just under two years for the Colts, Jaguars and Titans in total. But, what about the last two year's champions - the Patriots and the Seahawks? Glad you asked.

2015 New England Patriots PROBABLE Starting lineup (2013 starter)

QB - Tom Brady

RB - LeGarrette Blount (Stevan Ridley)

RB - James Devlin

WR - Brandon LaFell (Kenbrell Thompkins)

WR - Julian Edelman

TE - Rob Gronkowski

LT - Nate Solder

LG - Tre Jackson (Logan Mankins)

C - Bryan Stork (Dan Connolly at G)

RG - Ryan Wendell

RT - Sebastian Vollmer

DE - Rob Ninkovich

DT - Alan Branch/Malcom Brown (Vince Wilfork)

DT - Sealver Siliga (Chris Jones)

DE - Chandler Jones

LB - Jamie Collins (Brandon Spikes)

LB - Jerod Mayo

LB - Dont'a Hightower

CB - Logan Ryan/Malcolm Butler (Aqib Talib)

S - Patrick Chung (Steve Gregory)

S - Devin McCourty

CB - Justin Green/Bradley Fletcher (Alfonzo Dennard)

10 different starters (4 on offense, 6 on defense)

2015 Seattle Seahawks PROBABLE Starting lineup (2013 starter)

QB - Russell Wilson

RB - Marshawn Lynch

FB - Derrick Coleman

WR - Doug Baldwin (Sidney Rice)

WR - Jermaine Kearse (Golden Tate)

TE - Jimmy Graham (Zach Miller)

LT - Russell Okung

LG - Alvin Bailey (James Carpenter)

C - Patrick Lewis/Lemuel Jeanpierre (Max Unger)

RG - JR Sweezy

RT - Justin Britt (Breno Giacomini)

DE - Michael Bennett (Red Bryant)

DT - Tony McDaniel

DT - Brandon Mebane

DE - Cliff Avril

OLB - Bruce Irvin (O'Brien Schofield)

ILB - Bobby Wagner

OLB - KJ Wright

CB - Richard Sherman

S - Kam Chancellor

S - Earl Thomas

CB - Cary Williams (Brandon Browner)

9 different starters (six on offense, three on defense)

In all, it's clear that change is inevitable in this league and it was interesting to look at how often teams have changed, even in less than two years time. Thinking back to that caller's assertion, he wasn't wrong from the standpoint that an organization thrives under continuity but it doesn't stand in the way of winning and winning big.

The Houston Texans roster in photos.

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