Few things get the fans of an NFL team going like a good old-fashioned quarterback competition. The competitions range from the rookie facing off against the veteran, two veterans and even a competition between all three (or four) quarterbacks on the roster.
Every offseason there are a number of quarterback competitions taking place and this year is no different. In Arizona, the Cardinals are deciding between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton. In New York, Mark Sanchez is the starter but you have to expect the calls for Tim Tebow to get louder. Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden, 1st round picks last April, are both entrenched in competitions with their respective teams.
We'll have a stronger idea of how the quarterback competitions around the NFL are going once the players put on pads and enter training camp but here's a glance at which competitions we're gearing up to track in August.
Arizona Cardinals: Kevin Kolb vs. John Skelton
I'm a Chiefs fan and five years ago we were arguing about a competition between Damon Huard and Brodie Croyle (seriously) so I have some experience with quarterback competitions like this. The fact that Kolb, the $60 million dollar man, isn't the clear-cut starter is a problem. That's evident in this quote from Cards head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who says he wants Kolb to win the job.
"I'll be honest with you and say I obviously know how much we invested in Kevin," Whisenhunt said. "I want Kevin to be successful, I want him to be our quarterback, but I'm not going to ignore the fact that John Skelton worked pretty hard and did a good job when he was in there playing, too."
Kolb's concussions problems last year limited him to just nine starts, completing less than 58 percent of his passes. Hardly what you'd expect out of a quarterback you just signed to a multi-year contract. Skelton's numbers aren't much better -- they're actually worse -- but he did lead the team to five wins in seven games. That will count for something.
Predicted winner: Kevin Kolb has to win this job. It's a bad look for the Cardinals if he doesn't. I'll stick with Kolb as the Cardinals Week 1 starter.
New York Jets: Mark Sanchez vs. Tim Tebow
Sanchez will open the year as the starter, at least we think that'll be the case. By all accounts Sanchez looks like the better quarterback so far in OTAs and the Jets did give him a contract extension in the offseason, even if it was a little phony.
But this is Tebow and strange things tend to happen with him. The question with this quarterback competition -- it's not even really much of a competition at this point -- is at what point the calls for Tebow will come in so loudly that the Jets make a change. Maybe it doesn't happen in Week 1. But it could at some point.
Predicted winner: Mark Sanchez will be the Week 1 starter but if he struggles the Jets could move on from him by midseason.
Miami Dolphins: Matt Moore vs. David Garrard vs. Ryan Tannehill
2012 may be the only year this is a legitimate competition. Tannehill, the Dolphins first round pick, is clearly the future in Miami. But that future may not start in Week 1. Owner Stephen Ross conceded that Moore is likely to be the Week 1 starter, but plenty of things can change in that time.
Between Moore and Garrard, the choice should be Moore, who is only 27 years old compared to Garrard, who is 34 years old. At least Moore is still young enough to fool yourself into thinking there's the "potential" factor.
Throwing Tannehill into the mix confuses things a little bit. The Dolphins likely won't start the season with Tannehill as the starter -- it's still too early to say definitively that will be the case -- but he'll come in at some point in the 2012 season, assuming the Dolphins aren't in a playoff race, which is possible.
Predicted winner: Moore will be the Week 1 starter. If the Dolphins don't have a winning record by Thanksgiving, they will turn to Tannehill to finish out the season.
Cleveland Browns: Brandon Weeden vs. Colt McCoy
The Browns flirted with other quarterbacks in the offseason but apparently had their sights set on Weeden the entire time. That, plus a few other comments from the Browns brass, has us thinking Weeden is the likely starter entering the season.
The Browns are clearly ready to move on from McCoy, who has seen trade rumors involving his name this offseason. They will roll with Weeden, the future, in September.
Predicted winner: The future is now with Brandon Weeden in Cleveland.
Tennessee Titans: Jake Locker vs. Matt Hasselbeck
Hasselbeck has to be viewed as the favorite at this point. The Titans are truly looking at the best option, despite Locker being a 1st round draft pick last year. That means if Hasselbeck is the better quarterback in the offseason, he will be the starter.
By many accounts, Hasselbeck has the edge. The Titans believe they are playoff-ready right now and Hasselbeck is the quarterback with the experience to get it done.
If Tennessee struggles, expect Locker to make an appearance sometime during the season.
Predicted winner: Hasselbeck wins the job to open the season but Locker will take over the job at some point during the season.
Seattle Seahawks: Matt Flynn vs. Russell Wilson vs. Tarvaris Jackson
The three-headed monster in Seattle should be Flynn's to lose considering he signed a multi-year free agent deal with the Seahawks in the offseason. But reports out of the Seahawks OTAs indicate this will be a true competition, with no favorite.
Jackson is the six-year veteran who went 7-7 in 14 starts last season. He completed over 60 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns to 13 interceptions. He wouldn't be the worst option at quarterback, but you kind of know what you have with him.
Wilson is the rookie, a third round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. He may be a little raw but he was highly productive in college with at least 28 touchdown passes in each of his final three college seasons. He also played in two different college systems, which shows his ability to adapt to a new offense.
And then there's Flynn, the top free agent quarterback this offseason (besides, uh, that Peyton Manning guy). He signed a three-year contract that will pay him an average of $8 million per year.
Predicted winner: What teams say doesn't matter a whole lot. What they do, however, matters quite a bit more. And what the Seahawks have done is paid Flynn like a starter. That's why Flynn should be the pick to open the season as the Seahawks starter.