Never in my years of watching football can I remember there being so many opportunities for a QB controversy. Nearly half of the teams in the league (12) have a potential QB controversy in the works -- and that’s by my estimations, you could probably up it to literally half if you tried hard enough.
By QB controversy, I mean that there is a realistic chance of the starter being replaced before the mid point of the season if he isn’t performing up to par. A team’s fans have a lot to do with this, mainly because if there are two quarterbacks of similar skill on the same team, they will always, always call for the other one should the starter falter. I like to equate it to a Madden franchise when you are in a similar situation. I can’t speak for everyone but the moment my starting QB throws more than one interception and I happen to be playing with a team with a decent backup QB, I’ll bench the starter in a heartbeat. Easy as pie.
It is interesting to note that the AFC South is the only division in the league without a brewing QB controversy. You could try and make a case for Sage Rosenfels as a threat to Matt Schaub but uh, you would probably fail miserably.
The AFC East comes in first with three teams harboring potential QB battles. The NFC North would have been tied with three, but I just couldn’t entertain the thought that Gus Frerotte could ever win anything, never mind a QB battle with an up and coming QB in Tarvaris Jackson. You’re the victor already in my book, T-Jax.
As a disclaimer, I am not an expert (although it‘s fun to pretend). Some of the following teams could ride their starting QB all the way to the Super Bowl for all I know -- so feel free to disagree vehemently in the comments, per usual.
If Delhomme can stay healthy, this shouldn’t really be an actual battle. But therein lies the problem. Delhomme just had Tommy John surgery and there is a 20-30% chance that he will re-injure his elbow, never mind the odds of him never being the Jake Delhomme that once led the Panthers to a Super Bowl. On the other side of the fence, Matt Moore’s 2007 season didn’t win any accolades , but he did appear to get into a groove in the final three games. It’s also worth noting it was his rookie season and very, very few QB’s have had fantastic rookie seasons. Even the elite ones (I‘m looking at you, Peyton).
Projected victor: Jake Delhomme
The good news for Croyle is that he is still relatively young and will only get better as he learns to understand the game more through in game experience. The Chiefs also showed him a bit of confidence in not pulling a Packer and drafting a QB to watch over his shoulder for the entire season. On the Damon Huard front, he had a mediocre year at best last year, leading the team to a 4-6 record when he started. It would behoove the Chiefs to just run with Croyle who should prove this year whether or not he’s the real deal. They will not win anything with Huard at the helm.
Projected victor: Brody Croyle
Although the Bills don’t appear to want to give up on J.P. Losman as their franchise QB, they just might have to after Trent Edwards impressive performance last year. The team went 2-4 with Losman starting in 2007, with Losman throwing for 4 TD’s and 6 INT’s. Edwards steered the team to a 5-5 record, throwing for 7 TD’s and 8 INT’s. Edwards did all of the previous in his rookie year, whereas Losman disappointed yet again in his fourth year. Advantage: Edwards.
Projected victor: Trent Edwards
After leading the Redskins to a 5-9 record, Jason Campbell suffered a season ending injury, allowing perennial backup Todd Collins to come in and lead the Redskins to four straight wins and a playoff bid. Even though this is one of the less likely situations to be a controversy since Jason Campbell is young and Todd Collins is… uh, not -- Collins still showed he could win last year. Whether or not it was a fluke or not remains to be seen, perhaps defenses didn’t have enough game tape on him -- he certainly didn’t take the Seahawks by surprise (the Seahawks romped them, 35-14). Barring a Campbell injury or a horrible, horrible span of games, Todd Collins looks to be a backup once more.
Projected victor: Jason Campbell
In the five games before breaking his collarbone, Matt Leinart failed to play anywhere near a franchise QB level. A 53.6 completion percentage with 2 TD’s and 4 INT’s just wasn’t what the front office (and the fans) expected of him. His five games were actually bogged down by him being replaced by Warner multiple times, who by all accounts gave them a better chance to win despite his age. While it’s anyone’s guess as to how Leinart would have done for the whole year had he not gotten injured, he likely wouldn’t have led the Cardinals to a winning record. Still, he’s only 25 and has the potential to lead the team to the promised land that is the NFL playoffs. Kurt Warner is 36.
Projected victor: Matt Leinart
Granted Alex Smith battled an injury bug last year, but the games he did play in were anemic at best (and I should know, I had the misfortune of starting him on my fantasy team for the first 5 games). Through six, he “led” the team to a 2-4 record, throwing for 914 yards, 2 TD’s and 4 INT’s. His completion percentage was not great either, clocking in at 48.7% for the year. Meanwhile, Shaun Hill would throw for 501 yards, 5 TD’s, 1 INT and an impressive 68.4% completion percentage. Granted, the three games he played in were near the end of the year and they went 2-1 during his tenure, but he still showed he could play if given the chance. The 49ers may just have to come to terms with the fact that they struck out with their 2005 #1 draft pick. Smith was the number one pick overall, and if he hasn’t done anything by now, he’s not going to. End of story.
Projected victor: Shaun Hill
How the Bears brass was okay with these two players battling for the starting job for the upcoming season will never, ever make sense to me. Ever. Don’t bother trying to acquire a capable QB to run your offense, which was the sixth worst offense in the entire league. Why would you do that? While Grossman has had some success during his career, he is the quarterbacking equivalent of bipolar depression. He’s either going to throw for 2-3 TD’s and 250 yards, or he’s going to throw 4 picks and post a 38% completion percentage. I couldn’t deal with that from my quarterback if I were a coach… my head would explode. Kyle Orton on the other hand only played in 3 games last year but didn’t look much better. Although Orton did have a successful rookie year in 2005, he was demoted behind Brian Griese and Rex Grossman in 2006. The Bears apparently didn’t have too much faith in him. Out of the two, it would appear Orton is the lesser of two evils, although Grossman gives the offense a bigger upside. And hey, they still have him on the team so maybe they’re shooting for upside…
Projected victor: Rex Grossman
It is worth noting that Josh McCown, who is listed as #1 on the Dolphins depth chart at the current moment, has never had a year in his six year career in which he threw more touchdowns than interceptions. That’s all you need to know about him. Highly touted rookie QB John Beck left much to be desired as well, putting up numbers that I will not go through the trouble to look up. He struggled, let’s just put it that way. Lastly, is rookie Chad Henne who when placed among the other two clearly stands out as the way to go. While the Dolphins may give Beck another chance, don’t expect McCown to start too much unless injuries demand it.
Projected victor: Chad Henne
The new guard versus the old guard. Pennington, who had a resurgent year in 2006, regressed in 2007 due to injuries. At one point, Jets fans even cheered when he was injured and walking off the field because they were apparently ecstatic for the Kellen Clemens era to begin. At least that’s what I’m telling myself because it was such a classless thing to do. The team would go 3-4 under Clemens, who had some shining moments but generally looked like a first year quarterback should. The Jets can either go with Pennington, who likely gives them a better shot at the postseason, or thrust Pennington into the mentor role and throw Clemens back into the fire.
Projected victor: Chad Pennington
Rodgers, whose finally gotten his chance to start in the wake of Brett Favre’s retirement will be constantly checking his rear view mirror for Brohm. Although Rodgers is entering his fourth year in the league, he is still technically a rookie QB. This puts Brohm on a level playing field with him and depending on how things turn out, the Aaron Rodgers era in Green Bay might never begin. If Rodgers succeeds, the Packers situation would be eerily similar to the Browns. A capable starting QB who will always have a talented younger player waiting in the wings. Not too much fun for the starter, but for the team -- not a bad place to be.
Projected victor: Aaron Rodgers
Joey Harrington has proven over the years that he is a career service QB. He can put up numbers but he cannot win and is best used in pinch situations or if you have no where else to turn. Chris Redman, whose career in Baltimore is best described as a learning experience, actually looked very good last year. In four complete games, although the Falcons went 1-3, he threw for 2,147 yards, 10 TD’s and 5 INT’s. Whether or not that performance will win him favor over rookie Matt Ryan remains to be seen. The Falcons best bet would be to throw Matt Ryan into the starting role and give him some on the job experience. I doubt they can go to the playoffs with Chris Redman or Joey Harrington at QB, so 2008 might as well be used as the year that Matt Ryan is forged into a professional QB.
Projected victor: Matt Ryan
Kyle Boller, like Joey Harrington, has proven he cannot be a starting QB for an entire year (or at least not a winning one). Joe Flacco, who was highly praised of during the draft looks to be the one for the job. As with the other rookie QB situations, it will all hinge upon how the Ravens organization wants to approach Flacco’s indoctrination into the NFL. They may start out with Boller to begin the season, but quickly switch to Flacco when it goes sour.
Projected victor: Joe Flacco