Every year around October or November in the NFL we start to see football teams making quarterback changes. Sometimes they are forced to because of injuries. Sometimes they planned the change sooner or later because they drafted a young quarterback they were taking their time with. Sometimes they are forced into the move because their starter is underperforming on the field and their season is slipping away from them. Regardless of why the change has been made a midseason quarterback change can cause headaches for sports bettors trying to figure out how the team will respond to the change in the short term. Here are seven questions to consider when you are pondering these challenges of NFL betting:
Why is the change being made? – In order to understand what the impact could be you need to understand the motivation. We talked about potential reasons before – QB injury, poor performance, or a changing of the guard, for example. By understanding why the change is being made you get a good sense of how the football team is feeling, how ready they are for this change, how sudden the change is, and so on.
Why did the previous starter fail? – This is assuming, of course, that the change was brought about by some reason other than an injury. There are some reasons for failure that should cause continued concern for the new starter – an offensive line that couldn’t protect him or a NFL playbook that was lacking in creativity and strategy, for example. The new quarterback could also be handicapped by those same issues. If the previous starter struggled because of poor mechanics or timing or physical failures, though, then there is no reason to think that the new starter will face the same problems.
What tools does he have around him? – The more a new starter has around him the easier the transition will be. The starting point is the offensive line. In the NFL a new starter has enough to worry about as it is, so the last thing he needs to worry about is getting killed by opposing pass rushers on every snap. He also needs receivers that he can throw to and a running game that can lift the pressure off of him. None of that is rocket science, of course, but it is unquestionably important.
Does the coach have history with QB changes? – Some NFL coaches are good at making new starters feel comfortable and making things easy enough for them that they can succeed. Other coaches don’t have the patience, the creativity or the delicacy to shine with a new starter. There is obviously one kind of coach you would feel better about than the other. You also want to factor in whether the new quarterback is a favorite of the coach, or if he is a football player that the coach has been forced to accept. The more a coach buys into the player, the better the chances of success for teh player. Whenever you are considering the coach you want to look at the offensive coordinator and the quarterback coach as well since those two will typically have more direct influence on the early impact of the player than the head coach will.
How much preparation time does he have? – In a perfect world a QB change would come after an offseason full of preparation and familiarization, an early season that saw some spot game duty, and perhaps a bye week or a longer week to allow the starter to have extra reps with the first team to get comfortable. It rarely works out that smoothly in the NFL, of course, but the closer the transition looks to that model the more likely that the new starter will be ready and comfortable and will be in a position to succeed.
Who does he play? – The schedule is a huge factor in every game in the NFL, and it is especially a factor in these cases. If the player is playing a soft opponent with challenges in the pass rush and secondary then his chances for success are far better than if the opponent has a ferocious defense that eats quarterbacks for lunch. The location of the game is also obviously important.
How is the public responding? – Sometimes the betting public will accept a change with open arms – like if the new quarterback is a high profile NFL rookie or a free agent with obvious talent. Other times the public will be very negative – like if the previous starter was popular and still seemed to deserve to play, or if the new starter is a journeyman with little significant success in his career. The public mood will have a big impact on how the lines are set for the teams, how they will move, and where the value is. The public will likely overreact to what they view as a positive move, and treat a perceived negative move too harshly. Use this information to make winning NFL picks.