I was reading a very fine post over at DallasCowboyTimes and some of the guy's data really smacked me upside the head. I was aware of a trend, but I'd not fully appreciated just how prevailing it had become. The trend is the increased specialization of roles on NFL teams and the bald fact: Starting for a team doesn't mean so much anymore and in some ways it obscures the truth. Consider the following numbers from last season about our four defensive ends. Here is how often each of the four were on the field for a given snap: Olshansky 59% Spears 40% Bowen 57% Hatcher 44% These aren't my numbers*, but I believe them. So the reality is that though Marcus Spears was the "starter" (and remains so based on the current depth chart) the two "second-string" guys Bowen and Hatcher actually played more. Spears wasn't merely taken out in 3rd down situations. He was off the field more than he was on it. I may try to address some other aspects of this "myth of starting" later tonight. I need to find some good grub. *Note: I'd like to give proper attribution t the guy who wrote the article and provided these stats, but I can't locate the original article.