The league’s pre-season is now well under way. Teams have gone through their training camps and the second set of pre-season games are complete.
At this early stage the emphasis is on the coaches to work all of their players through these games and training practices to put together the best possible roster for the new season. Players are battling for spots at every position, but much of the focus goes to the competitions at quarterback. Most teams have a clear idea who their starting quarterback will be at the beginning of the campaign. For some however, it is a harder decision and I want to look at those teams with the much closer quarterback contests that have recently been going on.
Denver Broncos – Trevor Siemian vs Paxton Lynch
One quarterback contest that needed a resolution this off-season was with the Denver Broncos, who have already announced that Trevor Siemian will be their starter for another year. Siemian lead the offense last season and has kept the job from the second-year man Paxton Lynch. I blogged at the time in my review of the 2016 draft (which you can read here!) how much I liked Lynch going to Denver as he was one of my favourite quarterbacks in that draft and I saw it as a good fit, therefore I have been pulling for him to get in the team. It seems Lynch has not done enough and Siemian’s greater presence and pro experience means he is expected to play come week 1.
Houston Texans – Tom Savage vs Deshaun Watson
At the time of writing this it appears Tom Savage has won the battle to be the main man in Houston. Savage ended last season in charge of the offense and it was predicted to stay that way, but the Texans selecting Deshaun Watson in the first round of the 2017 draft made things interesting. Watson had a great college career at Clemson, which culminated in him brilliantly leading the team to the national championship in his final collegiate game. I would have liked to see the Texans go with the rookie as I think he will be riding some positive momentum from his success at Clemson. While the jump into the NFL is of course a big one, Watson has looked good at times so far in pre-season, which has probably made the decision as to who starts a little tougher each week for the coaches.
Chicago Bears – Mike Glennon vs Mitchell Trubisky
It has been all change at quarterback for the Bears this pre-season. With Jay Cutler moving on, the team signed Mike Glennon to assume the starting role. They then traded up to get Mitchell Trubisky in the NFL draft, a move that surprised many and shows that the organisation have faith in Trubisky being their future quarterback. Glennon certainly seems like the short-term solution and unlike Watson in Houston, I’m not so sure about the Bears throwing Trubisky straight in. The perception is that he will sit and learn, although he began pre-season with a good performance that must have made a few people in Chicago smile. Glennon still looks like he will start this season, but Trubisky may already be closing the gap.
Cleveland Browns – Brock Osweiler vs Cody Kessler vs DeShone Kizer
The Browns feel like a side on the up; they appear to be building well all over the field. However, their quarterback position is slightly unclear, which all started with the signing of Brock Osweiler in a move that they never seemed totally committed to. Osweiler looked good for the Denver Broncos a couple of seasons ago, then he left for a much larger contract with the Houston Texans. Unfortunately his one year in Houston did not go well and the team quickly moved him on and this off-season he arrived in Cleveland to challenge the man who last started for them, Cody Kessler. Then came the draft and DeShone Kizer has been added to the mix, Kizer’s potential is rated very highly by some and he has played well so far in pre-season. All three have been given game time and it’s a difficult choice, even with the Browns likely wanting to name their starter as soon as possible it may take another week or two of competition to figure it out. I would go with Osweiler but he needs to up his game for the rest of pre-season to make sure he gets the job.
New York Jets – Josh McCown vs Bryce Petty vs Christian Hackenberg
The Jets are going to struggle this year and offensively it all starts with their quarterbacks. They brought in Josh McCown during free agency and I think they see him as a guy who can start immediately. The veteran will be challenged by Bryce Petty who knows the organisation and the coaches a bit better and has looked decent during pre-season. When you throw youngster Christian Hackenberg into the discussion too there is a three-way fight for the reins of the Jets’ offense. McCown is the safe pick at the moment as his experience will be needed to help the Jets during a season where they will be the underdogs more often than not.
Two More To Watch
Jay Cutler has been persuaded to come out of retirement and play for the Miami Dolphins. This comes in response to the sorry news of Miami losing Ryan Tannehill for the entire season with a knee injury, which means the team lose the guy certain of being the quarterback for another year. I expect Cutler to get the nod straight away but he needs a good string of games to begin with, if he starts to struggle the pressure will grow and backup Matt Moore will have cause to step into consideration.
Since drafting Teddy Bridgewater in 2014 the Minnesota Vikings have seen him as the future of the franchise. To his credit he had improved each year before a nasty injury forced him out of the whole 2016 season, this prompted the Vikings to trade for Sam Bradford, who played well throughout the year and will remain the starter with Bridgewater still questionable into 2017. Later into this year though, when Bridgewater is healthy, the Vikings will be faced with the dilemma of who to choose, a decision that will be even harder if Bradford continues to perform at a high level. I admire how Bridgewater had been developing his game and when he’s ready I hope he can get back to playing – it just might be the case that it is away from Minnesota.
The next two weeks will see pre-season come to a close and teams will announce their respective starting quarterbacks. I’ll be paying attention to the QB’s performances during this time to see who wins out. It always injects some energy into the league if we get a rookie earning a starting spot, whereas going with a proven player is usually the smarter move; the differences in styles is what makes these in-team contests so interesting.
There will be much to keep an eye on in the build-up to the season and I have a new facebook page to accompany this blog. On the page there is regular news and views on all things NFL, so give it a visit (and a “like”!) here – www.facebook.com/Liam66NFL/