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Starting four different QBs puts Cardinals in rare group

There is a reason why the phrase “the NFL is a quarterback-driven league” is uttered ad nauseum throughout any football season.

It’s because that statement is 100 percent true.

Going into the final week of the season, the top seven-rated quarterbacks in the league have their teams in the postseason or positioned to clinch a berth with a regular season-ending win.

On the other hand, you’ve got the Arizona Cardinals, who have struggled to get quality play from the signal callers they’ve used this season. Kevin Kolb did a decent job in his five starts, but since his injury in Week 6 against the Buffalo Bills, it’s been a nightmare.

“It’s no secret, we haven’t got the production out of that position that we’ve needed,” Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt said this week. “We’ve got to get consistency out of that position.”

Since Kolb’s injury, Arizona quarterbacks have completed only 53.7 percent of their passes for 1,840 yards and only two touchdowns against 16 interceptions. They’ve combined for a QB rating of 51.44.

So Whisenhunt is turning to Brian Hoyer to provide some consistency this week against the San Francisco 49ers. Hoyer, who played most of the second half of last Sunday’s loss to the Chicago Bears, will make his first NFL start and become the Cardinals’ fourth different starter this season.

It’s the first time the Cardinals have been pressed to use four starters in a season, and only the 20th time it’s happened in the league since the AFL merger. The 2008 Cleveland Browns were the last team forced to use four starters in a season when they used Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, Ken Dorsey and Bruce Gradkowski to navigate through a 4-12 season. See, it’s not exactly the company you want to be keeping.

Fourteen of the 20 teams in the “four-starter club” finished with losing records. Four teams, however, overcame their QB difficulty and made the playoffs. The 1988 Browns, 2003 Broncos, 1984 and 1986 Bears qualified for the postseason — that ’86 Chicago team went 14-2!

Here’s a look at the “Four-Starter Club”:

1974 San Francisco 49ers (6-8)

Tom Owen (7 starts)

Joe Reed (4)

Dennis Morrison (2)

Norm Snead (1)

1984 Chicago Bears (10-6)

Jim McMahon (9)

Steve Fuller (4)

Rusty Lisch (1)

Bob Avellini (1)

Greg Landry (1)

1986 Chicago Bears (14-2)

Mike Tomczak (7)

Jim McMahon (6)

Steve Fuller (2)

Doug Flutie (1)

1988 Cleveland Browns (10-6)

Bernie Kosar (9)

Mike Pagel (4)

Gary Danielson (1)

Don Strock (1)

1988 New England Patriots (9-7)

Doug Flutie (9)

Steve Grogan (4)

Tony Eason (2)

Tom Ramsey (1)

1989 New England Patriots (5-11)

Steve Grogan (6)

Marc Wilson (4)

Tony Eason (3)

Doug Flutie (3)

1989 New York Jets (4-12)

Ken O’Brien (12)

Tony Eason (2)

Pat Ryan (1)

Kyle Mackey (1)

1991 Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)

Jim McMahon (11)

Jeff Kemp (2)

Brad Goebel (2)

Randall Cunningham (1)

1992 New England Patriots (2-14)

Hugh Millen (7)

Scott Zolak (4)

Tom Hodson (3)

Jeff Carlson (2)

1997 New Orleans Saints (6-10)

Heath Shuler (9)

Billy Joe Hobert (4)

Danny Wuerffel (2)

Doug Nussmeier (1)

1998 New Orleans Saints (6-10)

Kerry Collins (7)

Danny Wuerffel (4)

Billy Joe Tolliver (4)

Billy Joe Hobert (1)

2001 Dallas Cowboys (5-11)

Quincy Carter (8)

Anthony Wright (3)

Ryan Leaf (3)

Clint Stoerner (2)

2002 St. Louis Rams (7-9)

Marc Bulger (7)

Kurt Warner (6)

Jamie Martin (2)

Scott Covington (1)

2003 Denver Broncos (10-6)

Jake Plummer (11)

Steve Beuerlein (2)

Danny Kanell (2)

Jarious Jackson (1)

2004 Chicago Bears (5-11)

Craig Krenzel (5)

Chad Hutchinson (5)

Jonathan Quinn (3)

Rex Grossman (3)

2005 San Francisco 49ers (4-12)

Alex Smith (7)

Tim Rattay (4)

Ken Dorsey (3)

Cody Pickett (2)

2007 Carolina Panthers (7-9)

Vinny Testaverde (6)

David Carr (4)

Matt Moore (3)

Jake Delhomme (3)

2007 San Francisco 49ers (5-11)

Alex Smith (7)

Trent Dilfer (6)

Shaun Hill (2)

Chris Weinke (1)

2008 Cleveland Browns (4-12)

Derek Anderson (9)

Brady Quinn (3)

Ken Dorsey (3)

Bruce Gradkowski (1)

2012 Arizona Cardinals (5-10)

John Skelton (6)

Kevin Kolb (5)

Ryan Lindley (4)

Brian Hoyer (1)