With roster cuts almost complete, it seems like most of the position battles have been resolved. The most position battles took place at the toughest position in ALL of pro sports: the quarterback.
Teams in Miami, Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore, Arizona, and San Francisco have all recently ended speculation regarding their quarterback battles, and players have been chosen to start opening day Sept. 7.
Battle: Chris Redman vs. Joey Harrington vs. Matt Ryan
Winner: Matt Ryan
Many people will criticize this move, going back to what happened with Tim Couch and David Carr. But this could do for Ryan the same thing that it did for Peyton Manning back in 1998.
Granted, Manning had better weapons to throw to, but seeing what Ryan has done in the preseason, many people are very impressed. He has made all of the throws, looks pretty good in and out of the pocket, seems to grasp the offense well, and has command of the huddle, as well as the respect of his teammates.
All in all, the Falcons made the right choice; it is a gamble, as they are trying to clean up their image after you-know-who got put in prison.
Battle: Kurt Warner vs. Matt Leinart
Winner: Kurt Warner
I thought this move should have been made from the word "go." Leinart went from starter to having an inconsistent camp to having an even more dismal preseason, and his recent performance illustrates that point: 4-for-12 passing for 24 yards with three interceptions, resulting in a 2.8 passer rating!
Did the Cardinals make a bad investment in the former USC star? It's a little early to say so, but the early indications show that they have. He has been a disappointment, but it is too early to call him a bust.
Leinart, at times, looks scared and panicked when plays break down. Warner, on the other hand, found the fountain of youth in Arizona with a very nice rebound season (3,417 yards, 27 TD) and almost took the Cards to the playoffs. Arizona definitely made the right choice here. As for Leinart, back to the clipboard, kid.
Battle: Kyle Boller vs. Troy Smith vs. Joe Flacco
Winner: Troy Smith (?)
2006 Heisman winner Troy Smith has been slotted as the starting quarterback for the Ravens and new coach Jim Harbaugh. Though he stands barely over 6'0", Smith has shown the ability to use his skills to his advantage and has looked okay in preseason action, after making two starts in his rookie campaign last season.
Flacco is their prized signal-caller of the future...or is he? Both Smith and Flacco are young, with very strong arms, but Flacco is a rookie coming out of a Division I-AA college, where he worked almost always out of the shotgun.
The speed of the game has been somewhat of a culture shock to Flacco, but he has started to adjust to the pressure and is giving Smith a run for the starting job. Unless Boller improves in the next week or so leading up the season opener, it is a two-man race down in Baltimore.
Battle: Kyle Orton vs. Rex Grossman
"Winner:" Kyle Orton
In a battle that should have never even happened, Kyle Orton is the confirmed starter for Chicago come Week One at Indy. Many Bears fans are not even convinced that either guy is best for their team, considering the lack of weapons on the offensive side of the ball.
Why the Bears did not go after a quarterback in the offseason is beyond me. Nothing in the draft, nothing in free agency, absolutely NOTHING. Orton did lead the Bears to 10 straight wins in 2005, but Grossman replaced him for the playoffs and he failed.
Grossman led the Bears to the top record in the NFC in 2006, including reaching Super Bowl XLI, but again, he failed miserably, continuing his fumbling ways.
From what I have seen, Orton does look pretty comfortable managing the offense so far in the preseason, so we will see where this decision takes the Bears this season.
Battle: Chad Henne vs. Chad Pennington vs. Josh McCown
Winner: Chad Pennington
One week after being cut by the New York Jets (who signed free agent Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre), Chad Pennington signed with Miami and was almost instantly named the starter for the Dolphins' season opener against...the New York Jets.
Pennington will look to give the Jets an embarrassing loss and exact a measure of revenge against his old team. The decision to name Pennington the starter was not a difficult one, as McCown really has not proven himself as a veteran, and Henne is only a rookie, but one that Miami will be counting on down the road.
San Francisco 49ers
Battle: Alex Smith vs. Shaun Hill vs. J.T. O'Sullivan
Winner: J.T. O'Sullivan
The Niners haven't had a franchise signal-caller since Jeff Garcia. Alex Smith was supposed to solve that problem, and he appeared to be on his way, but a dismal 2007 season put an end to that notion.
Hill started three games in the regular season, going 2-0, and was tabbed as the starter heading into camp, with Smith fighting for his job. O'Sullivan was signed to a one-year deal after playing for five other NFL teams and has lit it up in the preseason, winning the job with his efforts.
Whether these decisions work out for these teams during the season remains to be seen, but you cannot deny the dire situations they are in. Putting their respective franchises back on the map and winning football games is priority one on a long list of things to do to get back to respectability.