We’re still a little ways away from preseason preparations kicking into high gear in the NFL, but it never hurts to take a sneak peak at what to expect during training camp. This year, like most years, there are at least a handful of teams with some uncertainty as to who their starting quarterback is going to be when the season starts. In preparation for some preseason quarterback battles, let’s countdown the five most intriguing quarterback situations that we’ll be able to watch play out between now and the start of the season.
5. Cleveland – The job will probably end up going to Brandon Weeden, and considering the Browns used a first round pick on him a year ago, they’d probably like it to go to Weeden, and at least give him another year. However, Jason Campbell could make things interesting during training camp, especially if Weeden struggles. Despite his problems as the backup in Chicago last season, Campbell has had plenty of good seasons in the league, so it’s not farfetched to think that Campbell could outperform Weeden in training camp, which could make things interesting this fall since the organization has a lot more invested in Weeden.
4. Oakland – Matt Flynn is expected to be the starter in Oakland, but that may not be set in stone just yet. Aside from a couple good games surrounded by Green Bay’s wealth of skill players, Flynn hasn’t done much to just be handed a starting job in the NFL, so he’s going to need some competition in training camp. Terrelle Pryor probably isn’t ready to challenge for a starting spot, but rookie Tyler Wilson might be. Although Wilson would be better off having a year or two to develop, he could pose a serious problem for Flynn. Wilson is a strong leader, which the Raiders will be impressed with, and he’s tough as nails, which will be important, as Oakland’s quarterback figures to take a lot of hits this season. If Flynn doesn’t establish himself as the starter early in the preseason, he could have a fight on his hands with Wilson, which could get quite interesting.
3. Buffalo – Things in Buffalo became simplified when they released Tarvaris Jackson, which means it’ll either be Kevin Kolb or rookie E.J. Manuel. Manuel is a player who can benefit from having time to develop before he becomes the starter, but Kolb doesn’t have a great track record as a starter, so the Bills may be better of going with Manuel right away. If there’s one thing new head coach Doug Marrone loves, it’s competition, so he’s going to let things play out during the preseason and start who he thinks gives Buffalo the best chance to win. That means neither Kolb nor Manuel should be considered the favorite heading into training camp, and whoever performs better during the preseason is going to be the starter when the regular season begins, which should make Buffalo’s quarterback situation interesting to watch play out.
2. New York Jets – If Tim Tebow were still around the Jets would undoubtedly top this list, but even without him there’s a good chance they’ll be able to create a messy and intriguing situation at the quarterback position. Without an x-factor like Tebow in the picture, the Jets have a good old-fashioned duel between incumbent Mark Sanchez and rookie Geno Smith. Smith is a fresh face, which should get the fan base behind him, but his ceiling as a quarterback may not be anything better than what Sanchez has shown during the last four years. The Jets have been great at making bad decisions and doing things to embarrass the organization over the last few years, and this quarterback situation is another opportunity to do just that. Ultimately, there may not be a right or wrong answer between Sanchez and Smith, but no matter which one gets the start on opening day, it’ll be fascinating to watch the Jets handle the competition between the two between now and then.
1. Philadelphia – The Eagles claim the top spot on this list for the most intriguing quarter situation in the NFL because they have three candidates that will factor into the competition during training camp. Michael Vick seems like the obvious choice to run Chip Kelly’s offense because of his running ability, but he’ll also have to make good decisions, take care of the football, and use his arm, all of which could be a problem for him. Matt Barkley doesn’t have great arm strength or playmaking ability with his legs, but he can make good decisions and get the ball out quickly, so he could end up being a factor in the competition if he can adapt quickly to the speed of the NFL. Nick Foles doesn’t seem like a good fit for Kelly’s system, but the Eagles elected to keep him around when they could have traded him for an extra draft pick or two, so Kelly must see something in him that he likes. With so much mystery surrounding Kelly and what his offense will look like, and the fact that they have three different quarterbacks with three drastically different skill sets, this will be the quarterback situation that will be the most intriguing to watch between now and the start of the regular season.
Honorable Mention: Jacksonville – The Jaguars situation at quarterback is more pathetic than intriguing. They didn’t take a quarterback in the draft, so they’re either making the wise choice of waiting for next year’s quarterback class, or making the delusional decision of actually believing Blaine Gabbert can be a starter in the NFL. Jacksonville did sign two undrafted free agents in Jordan Rodgers and Matt Scott, but they’re not going to bench a former first round pick for Chad Henne, Mike Kafka, or an undrafted free agent until Gabbert falls flat on his face, and by the time that happens it’ll be October and the Jaguars will still be winless, so nobody will be all that interested in what’s going on in Jacksonville.