With a pair of backup quarterbacks, Gus Frerotte and Steve Beuerlein, the Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos have also advanced to 5-0 and 5-1, respectively, to set up the Game of Week 7, in which big guns Daunte Culpepper and Jake Plummer will be firing Sunday at Minneapolis.
The Chiefs are 6-0 going into Monday's night game at Oakland (2-4), whose quarterback is a Super Bowl veteran, Rich Gannon.
What is going on in professional football?
The best answer is that there are good quarterbacks all over the league now although, not long ago, their scarcity was the NFL's most pressing problem. The change is dramatic. Most pro clubs this year — three of every four — have quarterbacks with a Super Bowl potential.
NFL Is a Balance of the Powerful
MANY FOOTBALL FANS, thinking back a few years, can remember when the best-informed NFL scouts, discussing good quarterbacks, said there were "about six" — and sometimes that was stretching it.
Then suddenly in college football, most coaches developed an interest in passing — after losing a few games to the handful of early-bird good passers — and began polishing their quarterbacks as industriously as they once polished blockers and tacklers.
And the revolution was on. All over the college landscape, good quarterbacks appeared. And as they matured, the best of them moved into the NFL, where they joined the best of football's blockers and tacklers to create what the pros have today: an extremely competitive league that is better than ever.
Formerly, it was politically correct to say that NFL parity suggests a balance of mediocrity. Critics used to complain that steady expansion — 32 pro clubs now — had so diluted the available personnel that the teams were mostly all weak.
To the contrary, it's clear today that they are mostly all strong. When you can see that the NFL is rife with good quarterbacks — and when you know the quarterbacks are products of college systems in which highly polished players are developed at all other positions — you realize that the pro league today is crowded with the best of the best. The NFL, whatever it used to be, has become a balance of the powerful.
Only Eight Teams Still Wanting
CHICAGO'S HUB ARKUSH, the Cub fan who runs Pro Football Weekly as editor and publisher, set out recently to reckon the NFL's best quarterbacks but lost count after 15 or 16 names.
Arkush's goal was to fix Donovan McNabb's place in the pro hierarchy, where, he said, reflecting a majority view, McNabb is in the top 5. Had the Arkush objective been different, he could easily have run the total of good quarterbacks to two dozen. Of the 32 pro clubs, 24 of them, I'd say, are in the hands of quarterbacks whose capability ranges from excellent to acceptable.
Indeed, it's easier to name the eight teams still wanting than the 24 already there.
In the NFC, despite Kordell Stewart's promise, Chicago seems wanting, as does Arizona with Jeff Blake. Mainly, Blake and Stewart have been unlucky to spend their pro careers in sub-par offensive systems. Nor can it be said that Delhomme is the answer at Carolina, which wins with running power and defense.
Three AFC teams also lack first-rate quarterbacks: Miami (Jay Fiedler), Baltimore (Kyle Boller) and Cincinnati (Jon Kitna) — even though, in more successful offenses, all three could at least match Delhomme's achievements so far.
Two other AFC teams are led by question-mark quarterbacks. At Pittsburgh, Tommy Maddox seemed the answer last year — but this year, for whatever reason, has been different. At Cleveland, Tim Couch wasn't the answer last year — but this year might be different. He has gone 2-1 starting in place of Kelly Holcomb, who has looked like a Super Bowl quarterback in brief appearances but is just now returning to health after fracturing his fibula in the Browns' victory over San Francisco last month.