NFL 2010: The Top Six Offseason Quarterback Battles
With a slew of trades, signings, and draft picks, several teams are walking into 2010 with heated competition at the quarterback position.
We're just getting started with the process of finding out who will win the most important job with several NFL franchises, and if Cleveland showed us anything last year, no one truly knows what will happen at the quarterback position until Week One hits us square in the mouth.
Just ask Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson, who ironically enough, are both semi-involved in another position battle, only this time with new teams.
Read on for the top six quarterback battles heading into the summer, along with analysis and predictions as to who comes out on top.
Denver Broncos: Kyle Orton vs. Brady Quinn vs. Tim Tebow
This ain't your Chris Simms' quarterback competition.
Yes, Kyle Orton is currently the starter for Denver, but after a slide at the end of the season, Josh McDaniels was clearly expressing his interest at getting better at the position with the trade for Brady Quinn and drafting of Tim Tebow.
The fact is, Orton is a game-manager, and what you see is what you get. He's okay, but do you really want to march into the fire with him?
Quinn still has work to do, but much of his poor play so far in his career can be attributed to the handling of the quarterback position by Eric Mangini, as well as the Browns just having no weapons at all to work with.
The Denver Broncos are reportedly opposed to trading Quinn, despite landing Tebow, as rumors suggest they will "never" ship him off to another team.
Tim Tebow is an interesting part of this mix, as every NFL Draft expert out there claims he's at least two to three years away from resembling anything close to an NFL passer.
Josh McDaniels disagrees, and considering he's worked magic in the past, making Matt Cassel look like a pro in one season and making Orton half-way resemble an elite option, it's hard not to trust him.
McDaniels openly acknowledges Tebow needs work on his motion and accuracy, but contends that Tebow is a lot like Tom Brady: a great leader, confident, and simply has "it".
It might sound crazy, but Tebow has a fairly decent chance of stealing the job in year one.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Byron Leftwich vs. Dennis Dixon vs. Charlie Batch
Ben Roethlisberger is out for at least the first four games of the season, and possibly six, which will give some career backup a handful of games to play for a starting job elsewhere in 2011, if they so desire it.
Charlie Batch is a competent backup and stop-gap option, but anyone who has seen Dennis Dixon or even Bryon Leftwich knows Batch can't win this battle.
If the Steelers want less mistakes and good leadership during the first 4-6 weeks, Batch would be the choice, but if they want to actually win games, Dixon or Leftwich have to win this job.
The early nod is going to Leftwich, simply based off of the memory of how well he played as a Steeler in fill-in duty, along with his big size and solid experience.
However, Dixon performed well when he was called upon last year, as well, and clearly has more potential and athleticism.
Buffalo Bills: Trent Edwards vs. Brian Brohm vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick
This has got to be the ugliest crop of passers on one team that we have ever laid our eyes on.
In terms of confidence, leadership, arm strength, and moxie, the Bills would come dead-last in a quarterback power rankings list if one was written today.
Sure, much of their struggle in 2009 came due to firing their offensive coordinator right before the season started, but the guy behind center also had a lot to do with it.
Trent Edwards doesn't have a good deep ball, and it seems like he surely knows it. He tried just two passes past 40 yards last season.
While that is discouraging, there is no ignoring his great mental make-up and potentially lulling-you-to-sleep deadly accuracy.
However, if he wants the job, he needs to open things up and utilize Lee Evans and his other deep threats.
Brian Brohm has vaulted himself to the second spot in this competition, probably just because he used to be a second-round pick.
This is the guy the Bills would love to see succeed, as he would have been a major steal, and because the guy does have the talent. The problem is, he's been shaken throughout his short career, and he has zero confidence or swagger.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is easily better than Brohm at this point and actually played quite well in spurts for Buffalo in 2009. The offense performed best when he was under center.
Regardless of each passer's lifeless career resumes, it's safe to say it will be a boring competition, and none of these guys will be considered a strong fantasy football option in 2010.
My money is on Edwards to win it if it's out of this group. Then again, I'm still sticking by my prediction that the Bills trade for Michael Vick.
Arizona Cardinals: Matt Leinart vs. Derek Anderson
Kurt Warner is gone, which would have the average fan assume Matt Leinart will be handed the keys to the franchise.
Not so fast.
Leinart still has the size, arm, and talent to pick-up where Warner left off, but past results have shown us that he isn't a great leader and is way too inconsistent.
However, a 35+-year-old quarterback stealing his job and keeping it over the past four years might have shaken his confidence a bit.
Regardless, Leinart has Derek Anderson to compete with, and this job is by no means locked down.
Leinart did reportedly look sharp and "in command" in recent workouts, while Anderson and rookie John Skelton looked ill-prepared and inaccurate.
I love Anderson's size and arm strength, but I just can't see him taking this job, unless Leinart has an epic fail moment in the preseason.
We won't know until the end of August, but Leinart should be the guy...to start the season, anyways.
Seattle Seahawks: Matt Hasselbeck vs. Charlie Whitehurst
Pete Carroll has set it straight: Matt Hasselbeck is the starter, but the team expects (and hopes) Charlie Whitehurst can push for the starting job.
Whitehurst is younger, fresh, and has a lively arm. He has star potential written all over him and simply needs his tools to translate to the field.
Hasselbeck got abused and violated behind a poor offensive line in 2009, is getting older, and hasn't been fending off injuries very well in the past two seasons.
As it stands, Hasselbeck is Seattle's guy to march into 2010 with, but if the two quarterbacks are anywhere close to being on the same level come August, the nod could easily go Whitehurst's way.
Carolina Panthers: Matt Moore vs.Jimmy Clausen
Matt Moore came on strong at the end of the 2009 season, leading Carolina to an impressive 4-1 record to end the season, while throwing just one interception during that stretch.
Moore played flawless football in blow-out wins over the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants and even had a quality showing against the New England Patriots.
Moore is Jon Fox's guy for now, but you can't rule out rookie second-round pick, Jimmy Clausen.
Clausen is easily the better talent, and with his experience in a pro style system at Notre Dame, it's arguable that he's just as prepared to take over as Moore is.
They're in a dead heat, so it will be interesting to see who prevails and is under center in week one. Considering the chip on Clausen's shoulder can be seen from Mars, my money is on him to squeak it out and be the starter for 2010.
Other Potential Quarterback Competitions
Cleveland Browns: Jake Delhomme is penciled in as the starter and Seneca Wallace as the top back-up, but things could change quickly if Colt McCoy plays out of his mind throughout the summer.
Delhomme was cracking in 2009, and at just 5'11, Wallace isn't an ideal NFL starter.
Minnesota Vikings: There's no doubt in my mind that Favre returns for a second season with the Vikings, but in the off chance he does decide to hang them up, it will be interesting to see who wins the job in Minnesota.
If Favre didn't return, a trade for Michael Vick or Matt Hasselbeck actually seems a lot more likely than Brad Childress riding the season out with what he currently has.
St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford is the top overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, is getting paid $50 million, and has A.J. Feeley as his top competition. If he doesn't lock this job up by the second game of preseason, something is wrong with this world.
San Francisco 49ers: Alex Smith had a solid 2009 and is expected to be the starter, but the 49ers brought in veteran quarterback and former number one overall pick David Carr as quality insurance.
If Smith can operate more effectively in formations other than the shotgun, he could be looking at a huge break-out season. However, Carr still has the tools to compete, and after recovering from the punishment he sustained in Houston as a back-up the past few years, he might have a good run in him at taking over the top spot.
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