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All the Beauty and the Bloodshed: The NFC West quarterback carousel of 2022

Twelve different quarterbacks have thrown passes this season

Seattle Seahawks v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

I don’t ever want to hear an NFL analyst make a prediction ever again.

In April, CBS Sports writer Cody Benjamin ranked the NFC West quarterbacks with Matthew Stafford at the top, then Kyler Murray, Trey Lance, and Drew Lock following Seattle’s trade of Russell Wilson out of the NFC.

In June,’s Adam Schein ranked the NFC West as the third-best division, with Stafford, Murray, Lance, and one of Geno Smith or Lock as the Seahawks’ starter.

In July, the CardsWire blog posted their NFC West quarterback rankings as Matthew Stafford, Kyler Murray, Jimmy Garoppolo, Trey Lance, Colt McCoy, Geno Smith, Drew Lock, and John Wolford.

As late as August, another blog had the rankings as Murray, Stafford, Lance, and Geno Smith after he had been named as Seattle’s starter.

With four games left in the season, the only NFC West quarterback who has taken every snap under center with his team is Geno Smith.

On Monday against the Patriots, Kyler Murray is feared to have torn his ACL. Arizona has previously given two starts to Colt McCoy this season already, including a win over the Rams, and he will now play out the rest of the Cardinals season. If he gets injured, then the team would turn to Trace McSorley, a sixth round pick of the Ravens in 2019 who has already thrown 14 passes this season.

The 49ers have turned to rookie seventh round pick Brock Purdy at quarterback after losing original starter Trey Lance in Week 2 and original-original starter Jimmy Garoppolo with a foot injury. Veteran Josh Johnson is also 1-of-2 with the 49ers this season and the 36-year-old is only inches from potentially being the starter of a division-winning team.

I don’t know what would be weirder: The last pick of this year’s draft starting a playoff game or a 36-year-old who has never been a starter ever—with four of his nine career starts coming back in 2009.

Is that as weird as Geno Smith starting for the NFC in the Pro Bowl? Seattle is strangely the only team that hasn’t turned to the backup even though Lock was probably the favorite to start in the offseason. There’s still a month left to go.

And finally, no NFC West team has delivered more surprises at quarterback than the reigning Super Bowl champions.

Matthew Stafford started nine games this season, went 3-6, and threw 10 touchdowns with eight interceptions and five fumbles. John Wolford went 1-2 as a starter (the win actually belongs to a different guy) with three interceptions, Bryce Perkins went 0-1 as a starter with two interceptions, and now Baker “the different guy” Mayfield is probable to start L.A.’s remaining four games.

Count them all up: 12 different quarterbacks have thrown passes for NFC West teams through 13 games. Literally every quarterback who is on an NFC West 53-man roster right now has thrown at least two passes this season EXCEPT for Drew Lock.

We aren’t done yet.

The Seahawks and 49ers play on Thursday night, with Geno Smith facing Brock Purdy. Josh Johnson will be the backup and former Seattle third-string option Jacob Eason is on San Francisco’s practice squad. The Seahawks will have Lock backing up Geno, while former Rams quarterback Sean Mannion is the emergency option on the practice squad.

Murray’s injury leaves McCoy as the starter for the rest of the season, with McSorley as the backup. Arizona doesn’t have a practice squad quarterback...yet. The Rams still have three quarterbacks on the roster, but let’s not count out Case Cookus just yet.

If you can’t predict it, it will probably happen in the NFC West.