Training Camp: Unneccessary quarterback controversies


Quarterback uncertainty can be tough for a team this time of year.  Just ask Michael Vick, who plead, very publicly, with coach Chip Kelly to cut the Eagles’ quarterback contest short for the good of the team.

Does Vick have a point?

No team entering camp with a quarterback controversy in 2013 was particularly great on offense in 2013. With a prolonged battle at the most important position on the field, the other ten offensive starters only stand to lose valuable practice time.

That problem only worsens if there’s a clear-cut favorite at quarterback on the roster right now. The Eagles have a serious quarterback competition, but the same can’t be said for other squads around the NFL. With that in mind, here are some teams that might be better off by throwing their support behind one guy sooner rather than later:

Buffalo Bills:
The Guy: Kevin Kolb

Is it the soul patch or the perpetual losing that gives us a bad feeling about Kevin Kolb? He gets a bad rap either way. Few quarterbacks are brave enough to rock the chin hair these days, and even fewer quarterbacks can say they’ve marched a bad team into Foxboro and beat the Patriots.

That week 4  game seems like eons ago. Since then, the Bills snagged EJ Manuel out of the “Supposedly Bad Quarterback Class of 2013.” Handing the job to Kolb now will allow new coach Doug Marrone to work on molding Manuel into the quarterback the front office believes he can become. And if Kolb stays healthy and beats the Patriots a few more times, that’s all the better for Buffalo.

Oakland Raiders:
The Guy: Matt Flynn

The 2013 NFL Draft viewing party at the Flynn household must have been an interesting affair this year. All was going well until his new team drafted yet another mid-round quarterback named “Wilson” as his backup.

We all know how that same scenario played out in Seattle last year. But this is the Raiders! Someone has to quarterback that anemic offense (Raiders fans should hope it’s not Tyler Wilson or Terrelle Pryor). He’s clearly the best hope for the silver and black.

Jacksonville Jaguars:
The Guy: Chad Henne

It was Henne, not incumbent starter Blaine Gabbert, who disappointed Jags fans least in 2013. In fact, Henne seemingly did more good than harm last year, clicking with Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts and passing for over 2,000 yards over just six starts. The team still lost, but they’ve got to start somewhere, right? Henne should be afforded the opportunity to build on what he accomplished last year and give Gabbert a little more time to work on his stubble.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
The Guy: Josh Freeman

This perceived controversy is by far the most bogus the NFL has to offer.

It started because Josh Freeman is entering a contract year and the team lost five games to end the 2012 season (gasp and double gasp). It kept going when the team drafted rookie Mike Glennon, another member of the “Supposedly Bad Quarterback Class of 2013.” It reached a fever pitch when coach Greg Schiano sung Glennon’s praises at rookie minicamp. And it should have ended when Schiano joined us for “NFL Total Access” and crowned Freeman.

Expect to hear that Josh Freeman is the starter about 746 more times this preseason before he actually suits up in Week One. We get it, Greg Schiano, but it doesn’t seem like anyone else does.

Minnesota Vikings:
The Guy: Christian Ponder

Christian Ponder was the NFL equivalent of Mike Winchell from Friday Night Lights for his first two seasons. He only needed to exist in the four seconds it took to take the snap and hand it to Adrian “Boobie Miles” Peterson.

That’ll change this year. No offense to Devin Aromashadou, but the Vikings haven’t exactly surrounded Ponder with high-caliber receiving options until they snagged Greg Jennings and drafted Cordarrelle Patterson (who was by far the best dressed player at the NFL Draft last April). If you think the team should try another option, just remember: everyone loves their backup quarterback until they realize it’s Matt Cassel.

Let Them Play It Out:

Every quarterback needs to be evaluated on these two teams in green.

It’s not 2010 anymore and it shows for Vick. What’s even worse is that Chip Kelly is cracking jokes about using challenger Nick Foles in the option and the still-speedy Vick still can’t nail down the starting gig. That speaks volumes about where that battle stands.

Mark Sanchez’s recent racy YouTube video might’ve lasted longer than his 2012 highlight reel. Last year, he had 32 turnovers– that’s right — 32 turnovers. The Jets need to know if Geno Smith can throw it to the opposite team fewer times before moving on from Sanchez.

- Nick Toney

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