Tuesday, August 5, 2008

NFL Training Camps: QB Battles

Unless your name is Peyton Manning (160 consecutive starts) or Tom Brady (110 consecutive starts), every year Quarterbacks must compete to earn or maintain their starting job for an NFL team. It is the most important position on the field and is a major factor in the success of a given team. While there are 32 starting positions available, it is not always a guarantee that a QB will start every game in a particular season. Heck, Brett Favre is having a hard time getting his NFL record 254th consecutive start.

Here is an update on the QB Battles heading into the 2008 season:

Miami Dolphins: Josh McCown vs. John Beck vs. Chad Henne

The Dolphins have waited nine years to find their replacement for Hall of Fame QB Dan Marino, and it looks like they may have to wait even longer. Henne should eventually be the "guy", but in the mean time, McCown is edging out Beck for back-up-QB that will get to start Week 1.

New York Jets: Chad Pennington vs. Kellen Clemens vs. (Brett Favre?)

An expensive new Offensive Line should help any of the QB's who get the job. Pennington has a ton of experience but is a banana peel away from another injury. This team should be begging future Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre to move to Jersey, it's the only way they'll have a chance against that other future Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Baltimore Ravens: Kyle Boller vs. Joe Flacco vs. Troy Smith

New HC John Harbaugh made Boller the starting QB for the first preseason game against the Patriots due to "a nod to experience and seniority". While all three QB's have looked okay in camp, none have stepped up as the leader in the clubhouse yet. Boller's 40 career starts is the only thing giving him a 'slight' edge.

Chicago Bears: Rex Grossman vs. Kyle Orton

HC Lovie Smith has named Orton the starter for the 1st Preseason game against the Chiefs. While Bears fans would rather see a Chicago Cubs pitcher whirling the pigskin around instead, Orton has had the advantage so far in camp. That makes it a 51-49 race for the starting role.

Atlanta Falcons: Chris Redman vs. Matt Ryan vs. Joey Harrington

A healthy (and prison-free) Michael Vick could probably beat all of these QB's out with his non-throwing hand. But while the "future"QB Ryan wants to start right away, he may need to wait a little longer for playing time. HC Mike Smith is going to see if Ryan 'takes' the job, or if they should side on using caution for the rookie, and start the veteran Redman instead.

San Francisco 49ers: Alex Smith vs. Shaun Hill vs. J.T O'Sullivan

After eleven days of camp, this battle looks to be in a 3-way tie. Each QB possesses strengths/weaknesses that the others don't. OC Mike Martz is becoming impatient with the learning curve needed for his complex offense. It seems that GM Scot McCloughan wants Smith, HC Mike Nolan wants Hill and OC Martz wants O'Sullivan. All three must decide on the same QB and decide soon.

Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers vs. Brett Favre

While the idea of a legit competition changes every 30 seconds for this team, the Packers seem to have made it clear that Rodgers is the guy. Rodgers will need to earn nothing short of a Super Bowl berth and Pro Bowl invitation to truly "win" this QB competition, even if Favre is gone.

Other "starting" Quarterbacks feeling the pressure:

Matt Leinart (Arizona Cardinals)
Brodie Croyle (Kansas City Chiefs)
Tavaras Jackson (Minnesota Vikngs)
Matt Schaub (Houston Texans)

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