The NFL’s preseason isn’t just to get vets ready for the grind or prepare rookies to get up to speed. There are a number of teams with genuine battles for their starting quarterback spot. Here are the most notable:
Bears – Mitchell Trubisky vs. Mike Glennon
The Bears made bold moves to pick up both QBs in the offseason. Glennon was given a three-year, $45 million deal as a free agent only to see Chicago trade up to the No. 2 spot in the draft to nab Trubisky. Glennon started in Tampa Bay in 2013 throwing for 2,608 yards and 19 TDs. He then lost his starting spot to then rookie Jameis Winston in 2014 and only threw 11 total passes off the bench last season. It’s possible the same scenario will happen to Glennon again with Trubisky winning the duel during this season or by the beginning of 2018.
Texans – DeShaun Watson vs. Tom Savage:
It’s well know how I admire Watson and his cool under the pressure of big games. Few QBs could have performed as well against Alabama and to do it twice in a title game and to have nearly won both says a lot about a player I believe will be a long-time starter and star in the league. Savage was a solid college QB in his own right and has starting experience with Houston. It should be noted Savage has yet to throw a TD pass in his first two seasons (5 games played 56 for 92 for 588 yards). Watson will be the guy at some point. The question is, how soon?
Rams – Jared Goff vs. Sean Mannion:
Los Angeles used the No. 1 overall pick of 2016 to take Goff out of Cal. He was hardly up to that billing in his rookie year. In seven games he completed fewer than 55 percent of his passes and was picked off more times (7) than he found the end zone (5). Mannion has been a backup for the Rams for two seasons, barely seeing action. He’s 9 for 13 for 50 yards but still is enough of a threat that he could supplant Goff and make the Rams pick move toward “massive bust” status in a hurry.
Broncos – Trevor Siemian vs. Paxton Lynch:
At times this battle last season was fairly even. Siemian played quite a bit more (3,401 yards – 18 TDs) than Lynch (497 yards – 2 TDs) but neither cracked a 60 percent completion rate or grabbed a lock on the job. They also have rookie QB Chad Kelly out of Ole Miss. Yes he’s an odd duck, but he has an arm worthy of his uncle Jim Kelly.
Chiefs – Patrick Mahomes vs. Alex Smith:
Smith can’t catch a break in his career. He’s been solid enough to put up 27,846 passing yards and 157 TDs in his 11 years in San Francisco and Kansas City. Still, as a former No. 1 overall draft pick he has been less than elite. Like Chicago, the Chiefs traded up for a QB in draft. Kansas City took Mahomes 10th overall. Mahomes put up pinball-like numbers at Texas Tech his last two seasons (9,705 yards and 77 touchdowns in just 25 games). He also set an NCAA record, lighting up no less than Oklahoma for a whopping 819 yards passing in one game last season. Smith will start, but will look over his shoulder much the same way he did with Colin Kapernick in San Francisco. One bad stretch and Mahomes might get an early call.
Dolphins – Jay Cutler vs. Matt Moore:
With Ryan Tannehill’s injury the Dolphins figured their best hope to return to the playoffs was to make a bold move and pay Cutler to come out of retirement. Moore was a serviceable backup but little else. Still he has playoff starting experience and if Cutler proves his days are done, then Miami will have to consider starting over entirely at this position heading into next season.
Others Possible Battles:
Browns – Brock Osweiler versus… Cleveland is praying it did not make a $72 million mistake.
Jets – Josh McCown versus… The sad-sack Jets are hoping a 37-year-old journeyman who is 2-20 as a starter since 2014 can make an impact. Good Luck.
49ers – Brian Hoyer versus… New head coach Kyle Shanahan is waiting for next season and Kirk Cousins (or maybe No. 1 pick Sam Darnold from USC).
Keep Your Eyes On:
Panthers – Cam Newton’s shoulder…
Colts – Andrew Luck’s shoulder…
Ravens – Joe Flacco’s back…
Vikings – Teddy Bridgewater’s recovery…. (Hey, if he does make it back to the game.)
If your club has a solid clear-cut starter, consider yourself lucky. If he happens to be top-10 QB or even elite, then you are blessed. And stand by, because next year’s NFL draft could give us Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Jake Browning, Josh Allen, Deondre Francois, Luke Faulk, Mason Rudolph and Jarrett Stidham, to mention a few of the bigger names.