Fives Teams With Big Questions at Quarterback
There is nothing like a quarterback battle to kick off training camp. It brings out the best in players. The repetitions, the rivalry, the competition. There are five teams with interesting story lines surrounding the quarterback position. Two teams have battles going on, while the other three have signal callers on the hot seat.
The Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans have battles going on right now. Rex Ryan has gone as far as to not name an opening week starter until the game, while the Texans have two QBs who will most likely not be a starter for the long term. Of all the QB situations, the Bills may have the best situation for success. All you need to do is look at the playmakers around the position including the additions of LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin, and Charles Clay. Whoever has the reins for Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts will have one simple task: manage the game and limit turnovers. Many believe Matt Cassel has the fast track lead to be the starter as the 33 year old is the perfect fit for the Bills current situation. Opposing defenses will know what they are going up against, as Cassel will not surprise anyone with his arm strength or accuracy. With new offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, look for the Bills to bring a rush heavy attack. While EJ Manuel may be more athletic, he is prone to mistakes, and Tyrod Taylor is more of an unknown at this time.
Down in Houston, it is between the strong armed Ryan Mallet and Brian Hoyer. What do these two have in common other than being Texans? They were once former New England Patriots and were back ups to Tom Brady. It does not help with the loss of star running back Arian Foster, who is down with a groin injury and expected to miss half of the season. While Mallet got some starts last season, Brian Hoyer has more experience (17 starts in 6 seasons) and is more of a game manager. In his limited action last year, Mallet was unable to lock up the starter spot, and this year may be the same. Mallet may get the nod to start the season, but look for Hoyer to get plenty of appearances.
Three quarterbacks to kick off the season on the hot seat are Josh McCown, Geno Smith, and Robert Griffin III. After an ineffective rookie season in Cleveland, Johnny Manziel was unable to turn heads as he shared time with Brian Hoyer. McCown signed a three year contract during the offseason and will look to take over a struggling Browns offense. Coach Mike Pettine has been quoted saying that McCown isn’t guaranteed to be named the starter Week 1, but that the veteran is much further ahead.
With a new coaching staff, the addition of wide out Brandon Marshall and an already star studded defense, this may be Geno Smith’s last chance to make it as a starter in New York. Todd Bowles has made it pretty clear that Smith has the early advantage . There has always been the question surrounding Smith since he came into the league, and that is can he put all the physical tools together on a consistent basis? In his first two seasons, Geno has turned the ball over 41 times, yet he did defeat Tom Brady and the Pats in his rookie season. Who is Geno’s competition? It is the ever reliable and Harvard alum Ryan Fitzpatrick. Where might Fitzpatrick have an advantage? It is that the Jets offensive coordinator is Chan Gailey, who used to be the Bills head coach when Fitzpatrick was there. Fitzpatrick could step in right away and be a short term Band-Aid until the 2016 NFL Draft or Bryce Petty becomes a true option.
Is RGIII ready to be the man again in Washington? The Redskins traded a lot of draft picks for the once Baylor Bear and the former Heisman winner has not lived up to expectations. Some will give Griffin a pass for the injuries he has dealt with, but it is now time to shine. Griffin has all the tools in the world to succeed as a starting quarterback, and with the Redskins picking up Griffins fifth year option, it means they will give him one more chance to succeed. If RGIII can’t succeed, the Skins and head coach Jay Gruden will not be afraid to pull the trigger and hand the reins over to Kirk Cousins.
-Brian Wolf, @bwolf_17