ELF: The quarterback carousel continues

As the midpoint of the 2022 season approaches, five of the European League of Football’s (ELF) 12 teams have replaced their quarterback. But is the grass actually greener on the other side?

The most recent quarterback to face the chopping block is Matt Adam of the Rhein Fire, but he is far from the first. 

As the second ELF season came rolling in, a sea of fresh-faced quarterbacks approached their first game with excitement and vigor, secure in the thought that this was their team for the year. 

But little did they know that nearly half of the league’s signal callers would be discarded following injury or performance concerns by week 7. Something unseen at any level of football.

First on the chopping block was Wroclaw Panthers’ Justice Hansen who managed just two games before getting replaced by former Fan-Controlled-League quarterback Slade Jarman.

Hansen – 42-67 for 486 yards, 5 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 2-0
Jarman – 82-146 for 923 yards, 6 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 923 yards, 1-3

Next up was the unfortunate case of the loveable Randy Schroeder. The Stuttgart Surges‘ quarterback had no shortage of success in Europe, winning both the Mermaid Bowl and NEFL cup with the Copenhagen Towers in 2018. 

It’s hard being brought into a losing organization with all the weight of expectation put on your shoulders. And it wasn’t long before the winless Surge threw Schroeder under the bus and instead opted for Dante Vandeven.

Schroeder – 83-159 for 837 yards, 3 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 0-4
Vandeven – 47-105 for 687 yards, 1 touchdown, 9 interceptions, 0-3

Shortly after this, the Leipzig Kings, catching wind of the unfortunate injuries plaguing starting quarterbacks, found themselves too with an ‘injured’ quarterback in Jordan Barlow…

And fortuitously for the Kings, this aligned perfectly with the French league rounding to an end and the championship team’s quarterback, Conor Miller, becoming immediately available.

Barlow – 82-157 for 962 yards, 5 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 2-3
Miller – 23-39 for 254 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 0-1

For the Istanbul Rams it was more of a question of when as opposed to who or if. The team began the first six games of the season horrifically. As the face of the team and an Australian quarterback, the finger was pointed directly at Jared Stegman.

Last week, the Rams announced the singing of Isaiah Green, an American quarterback who played his football at Randy Moss’s alma mater, Marshall (NCAA. DI). Green has just finished a year in Serbia and will likely make an immediate impact to the game this weekend.

Stegman – 87-208 for 889 yards, 5 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 0-6

The final quarterback to feature in ELF’s quarterback carousel (for now) is Matt Adam of the Rhein Fire.

The reason this quarterback switch stands out from the rest is due to the fact that the Fire are currently a winning team, the rest are not. But his replacement is shrouded with all the same mystery as the others.

Two weeks ago, in the team’s last game, a 17-3 win over the Cologne Centurions, the Fire ran the ball 31 times, a clear indication they wanted to keep the ball out of Adam’s hands. The 12 throws and eight scrambles that Adam was permitted to make were run of the mill. It is for this reason that Adam’s injury may be somewhat suspect. 

He has been replaced with the Hamburg Sea Devils’ 2021 quarterback, Jadrian Clark, who decided to leave his GFL2 team midway through the season to rejoin the ELF.

Adam – 71-127 for 990 yards, 10 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 4-2
Clark (Luebeck Cougars GFL2) – 82-138 for 1,150 yards, 13 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 4-1

Every position has had a high turnover in the ELF this year, it is hard to say why. European leagues have been bringing imports in for decades. Most teams usually stick with their imports unless exceptional circumstances arise.

Perhaps the change is due to highly involved team stakeholders applying pressure. Perhaps it is an attempt to replicate a true pro environment. Either way, if it’s done by choice, it’s seldom good for the team.

In nearly every scenario, replacing the quarterback midway through the season will lead to a negligible difference at best. It is without a doubt the most impactful position when changed, sending ripples through to every corner of an organization. With the second half of the season still to go, we will likely see plenty more changes.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.