Six NFL Quarterback Battles To Watch Heading into Training Camp
In July and August when NFL teams begin their training camps, most coaches are concerned about one thing—their starting quarterback.
The quarterback is, without a doubt, the most important position on the field, not just on the offensive side of the ball.
Some head coaches are fortunate enough to have a highly talented signal caller who can step in right away and make an impact.
But others will have to search for their guy through team drills and seemingly meaningless preseason games.
Here are six teams that will have to make this tough decision once the dog days of summer come around:
Three years ago, without hesitation, I would have told you that Matt Hasselbeck was Seattle's starting quarterback.
But in this league, you can't live in the past. The acquisition of former third round pick Charlie Whitehurst (from San Diego) tells me that Seattle is looking for a reason to replace Hasselbeck.
Despite throwing for 3,000 yards and 17 TDs last year, Hasselbeck has shown he is slowly deteriorating. Hasselbeck threw 27 picks (22 TDs) while missing a total of 11 games over the past two seasons.
I do think Hasselbeck will start when the season rolls around, but at age 34, he likely can't be counted upon for much longer.
Coach Pete Carroll will be evaluating Whitehurst in camp, and I really think he may be the starter by the end of the season.
Kyle Orton must be feeling the love out in Denver right now.
First, Denver goes out and brings in the (so far) disappointing Brady Quinn after completing a trade with Cleveland.
And then what do they do?
They take a huge risk by drafting former Florida Gator Tim Tebow late in the first round of the draft.
Orton's 3,802 passing yards and 21 TD tosses last season must not have been enough to impress the front office.
But I really don't think this is as big a deal as it seems. Orton is the starter until Tebow or Quinn proves they can win.
Quinn is 3-9 in his three NFL seasons while Tebow has yet to put on an NFL uniform.
Therefore, I've decided that if Orton isn't the Week One starter then someone needs to be fired in Denver.
As of right now, there's no question that Matt Moore (who went 4-1 as the starter last season with a 61.6 completion percentage, 1,053 yards, 8 TDs, 2 INTs) deserved the starting job in the '09-'10 season.
But that does not mean there won't be a battle in this year's camp.
With four QBs, including two rookies, currently on the roster, you know the Panthers will want to see a couple guys step up.
I guess we'll have to wait and see if any of the young guys (Hunter Cantwell, Tony Pike, and Jimmy Clausen) can dethrone the proven Matt Moore.
Much like the Panthers, Arizona also has four quarterbacks on its roster, including two rookies.
In four seasons as the Cards' backup, Matt Leinart has posted a 7-10 record.
To my surprise, Leinart, at first, seemed to be the guy in Arizona after Kurt Warner's retirement. But in March, Arizona signed former Cleveland Brown Derek Anderson to a two-year deal worth $7.25 million.
So now it seems as though the Cardinals aren't quite ready to hand the keys over to Leinart.
And how can you blame them?
I don't think Leinart has really shown us that he has what it takes to lead a team.
Don't get me wrong, Anderson hasn't exactly been an all-pro either, but he does have a decent track record considering he was one win shy of taking the Browns to the playoffs in 2007 with a 10-5 record (as the starter) and a stat line as follows: 3,787 yards, 29 TDs, 82.5 rating.
So unless Leinart pulls off a miracle, Derek Anderson will be the Week One starter. But for the rest of the season? Only time will tell.
Coach Mike Tomlin may have the most interesting battle considering we already know Roethlisberger won't be able to play for the first six games of the season (though it may only end up being four).
Charlie Batch, in my opinion, has the edge heading into camp. But don't be surprised if veteran Byron Leftwich passes him in the race. I don't think the Rooneys brought him back for nothing.
The dark-horse in the battle is most definitely the third-year quarterback Dennis Dixon, who has just one career start.
But in the end I don't think either of them will be able to beat out Batch, who has had a rough five years with the team but knows the system better than the other two.
San Francisco 49ers
The departure of Shaun Hill, who was dealt to Detroit in March, makes this battle even more interesting.
Hill made six of his team's starts in 2009 while the favorite in this year's training camp battle—Alex Smith—started the other 10.
San Francisco took away some of Smith's breathing room by signing 30-year old journeyman David Carr in March.
I certainly have my doubts about Smith being a legitimate NFL starter, but he is without question the most proven, safest bet to run the offense for Singletary in San Fran.
Nate Davis and Jarrett Brown will also be taking snaps in training camp alongside these two, though I doubt either will make much of an impact.
Other Battles of Note:
Buffalo Bills: Trent Edwards vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Brian Brohm
Tampa Bay Bucs: Josh Freeman vs. Josh Johnson
Miami Dolphins: Chad Pennington vs. Chad Henne
Tennessee Titans: Vince Young vs. Kerry Collins
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