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Jobs On the Line Under Center
With the breaking into camp from two NFL teams who will play in the Hall of Fame just days away on August 3rd, it’s officially go time across the NFL. Hard Knocks is at our doorstep, shots of lush green practice fields across the league are a football fan’s version of Augusta National, and you can sense the excitement across every fanbase and roster. Regardless of whether or not it is your team’s year to win it all, the hope still exists for everyone as pads come on and camp gets rolling.
The juiciest part of roster construction this time of year in the NFL is centered around…who is under center for 32 teams. There’s a certain gravity to being a starter in the NFL and it’s arguable the most scrutinized position to play in American pro sports. This is precisely what makes July + August quarterback competitions all the more exciting, and there’s a solid amount of job openings as it stands right now. Even teams that seemingly have “their guy” still have questions in their QB room, so let’s make sense of what to watch for this preseason to see who emerges as a week one starter in the NFL:
AR 12 Takes Flight
The Jets are one of those Hall of Fame game participants so they got camp going early, and though there’s not a ton of controversy on who’s starting week one under center, it’s definitely the most intriguing QB room in the headlines as of late. After the epic failure that is Zach Wilson took place, the youngster returns to the bench to watch Aaron Rodgers in the twilight of his career before his rookie contract expires. Add in the commotion and surveillance of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” filming their preseason, and we’ll be sure to get some sort of private-turned-public moments from camp that should be gems. How seriously will #12 take his swan song contract in the Big Apple? I’m not convinced that it will be an instant success, which should make for lots of gossip throughout NYC this summer.
It will be fascinating to see what 49ers camp and the month of August looks like as Brock Purdy’s injury rehab continues and hopefully concludes. While it’s been clear from 49ers coaching staff that the job is “his to lose” upon his return, his timetable is not 100% confirmed and we all know how the NFL works. If Trey Lance manages to mature his game as starter and thrive in the spotlight, or if San Fran’s newcomer at QB Sam Darnold steadies the ship early on, it will be hard to bench either one of them. The early word is that Lance had the better mini-camp and should take 60% of the first team reps in training camp, so we’ll have eagle eyes on rep count to see if that trend follows through preseason into week one while Purdy sits and heals.
Waiting Game In Indy
Now this is one scenario where I’m glad to be forever watching from the couch and armchair coaching. What do the Colts do with Anthony Richardson? The former Florida Gator QB has all the dreamy measurables of a star NFL QBV and gives off plenty of Cam Newton vibes, but his production in college lead to lots of question marks on his rookie abilities. It’s the classic catch 22 of starting him too early and regretting it after immediate failure, or waiting too long and not picking the right time to give him his first real snaps under the gun. As far as NFl QB’s go he’ll be my most watched of the preseason, as I’m eager to see how his physicality and frame translate to the next level. For the time being, the Colts would go with Garden Minshew (yikes) or Sam Ehlinger (double yikes) on a game to game basis until they were ready to unveil their shiny new toy.
Know vs New in HTown
We know exactly what we’re getting out of Davis Mills at this point. I hate to let Texans fans down but we are approaching his plateau as a game managing QB at this level, so why not go with what’s new in C.J. Stroud right out of the gate? The one thing that doesn’t worry me about Stroud is in-game scenarios and game play maturity – he’s started his fair share of big time games on big stages at Ohio State, so I don’t think Reliant Stadium on a sleepy Sunday afternoon in Houston will be too intimidating. In what’s undoubtedly the worst division top-to-bottom in the AFc South, this is one spot where I look to play the kid right out of the gates. His reps versus Mills’ will be scrutinized all the easy up to a starting QB announcement at the end of camp.
Less Juicy Battles
If you like scraping at the bottom of the pile, how about the Baker Mayfield vs Kyle Trask battle for the job in Tampa? Either option leads you to a 7-10 record, but Baker’s 7-10 might be more fun to watch…
True NFL degens and diehards will be locked in on the Sam Howell vs. Jacoby Brissett battle in Washington. Don’t worry, it’s probably likely that even third stringer Jake Fromm will get a chance at the job based on the history of the other two QB’s in the league thus far.
It’s the “put up or shut up” year three for Mac Jones as the signal caller in Foxboro. With his old offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien in the fold and new toys at his disposal, the excuse train is all out of fuel. Just watch – a few bad practices in August and we’ll get some Bailey Zappe buzz in no time.
Thankfully the anticipation is just about over, as the remaining 30 NFL squads start up camp at some point this week. Football. Is. Back.
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