NGSC Sports

Position battles 2013: Quarterbacks

     Let the battles for positions in the NFL for 2013 begin. For the millions of NFL fans across the country, the preparation for the 2013 NFL season began not with the first blown whistle, or horn of training camp, but with the week long NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. The combine is where all 32 teams gather all of their brain trust and make decisions on which players they will draft for their respective teams. They have high hopes of being a part of their respective franchises for years to come. We all know that nothing is given to anyone at the NFL level whether you are a 15 year veteran or even a 1st round draft pick. This is the reason why every year in the NFL there are many outstanding position battles that take place in which starting jobs are up for grabs.

    So far, the 2013 NFL preseason has been no different in regards to position battles across the league. The quarterback battles that have been raging across the league have certainly captivated the nightly sports news on the sports networks, whether its SportsCenter on ESPN, or even FOX Sports live on FOX Sports 1. As we are about to close out the 2013 NFL preseason this week with Week 4 starting this Thursday night, it is only fitting that we take a closer look at the starting quarterback jobs that have yet to been announced and the quarterbacks who have won their jobs.

    In Philadelphia, Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly made the decision that Michael Vick will be the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles this upcoming season. For weeks prior to Kelly’s decision, there had been uncertainty on whether Vick, Nick Foles, or even Matt Barkeley would earn the starting job. There has been so much that’s been made of the new offensive system installed by Coach Kelly, which involves the same fast pace offense that he ran at the collegiate level while head coach of Oregon Ducks. With a healthy Vick under center this season, it will be very fascinating to see what he does as a valuable asset to Coach Kelly’s up-tempo offense.

    If you were to travel up north on Interstate 95, you will find the home of New York Jets, where they have certainly became a dysfunctional team in the past couple of seasons. This year, Rex Ryan is certainly on the hot seat as the Jets have performed terribly as a team the past two years especially on offense. A big reason for their lackluster offense is the play from their quarterback position. Mark Sanchez has performed very poorly and has certainly regressed especially last season when he threw for 13 touchdowns and also threw 18 interceptions (not to mention the infamous butt fumble vs New England Patriots last Thanksgiving). Because of Sanchez’s poor performance, the Jets drafted quarterback Geno Smith from West Virginia University in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. This was a signal that there would be a quarterback competition for the starting job in training camp. As we enter Week 4 of the preseason, there is still no clear choice for who will be the starting quarterback, especially after Smith’s lackluster performance against the New York Giants where he completed 16 of 30 passes for one touchdown and three interceptions. To make matters worse, Sanchez was injured when he was put in the game in the 4th quarter leaving Coach Ryan flustered and frustrated as shown in his press conference after the game on Saturday night.

    In Orchard Park, New York, the Buffalo Bills had a quarterback battle that raged on since the beginning of training camp till a few days ago. Kevin Kolb, E.J. Manuel, and Jeff Tuel were battling for the starting quarterback job of the Bills and head coach Doug Marrone had himself quite a decision to make. E.J. Manuel, a first round draft pick of the Bills out of Florida State University, had been playing extremely well this preseason completing 26 of 33 passes, which was good for 78.8 percent, for 199 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions to go along with a 112.0 quarterback rating. He now needs to have a minor knee procedure done on his knee which will result in him missing the remainder of the preseason. In limited play, Kevin Kolb struggled to some degree completing 15 of 25 passes (60.0 completion percentage) for 125 yards with no touchdown passes and one interception. When Coach Marrone announced that Tuel was going to be the starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills in Week 1 against the New England Patriots, it certainly raised a few eyebrows and begs the question: Who is Jeff Tuel? Based on his preseason numbers, Tuel completed 31 of 43 passes (72.2 completion percentage) for 299 yards with two touchdown passes and no interceptions with a 106.6 quarterback rating. While Manuel recovers from his minor knee surgery, it seems to be the second best option for now is to start Tuel in Week 1.

    In Cleveland, Ohio, where it is known for the Rock and Roll hall of fame, the Cleveland Browns have been rocking and rolling in their beds the past decade over their quarterback play. This season with the new regime. Rod Chudzinski enters his first year as an NFL head coach with the Browns. Norv Turner, who is the new offensive coordinator, will certainly help out quarterback Brandon Weeden, who won the starting job over Jason Campbell. Weeden, a quarterback who is still very much in his prime, has excited both the coaching staff and the fans over his development in preseason as they hope it will translate to success during the regular season. So far in the preseason, Weeden has completed 30 of 50 passes (60.0 completion percentage) for 334 passing yards and three touchdown passes with no interceptions. It isn’t a huge surprise that Weeden earned the starting job over Jason Campbell. However since his first season a year ago in 2012, Weeden has made improvements in several key facets of the game especially working his technique passing the ball and having a better understanding of the offense.

    In the Bay Area out in Oakland, California, the Raiders have a quarterback battle with Matt Flynn and Terrell Pryor both fighting for the starting job. There is still no clear cut choice in regards to who will get the starting job despite Terrell Pryor outplaying Matt Flynn this past Friday night in a 34-26 loss to the Chicago Bears. Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen still does not know who will be the starting quarterback in spite of both quarterbacks struggling at times during the preseason. As we head into the final week of the preseason and final roster cuts have to be made, Coach Allen is going to have a tough decision in regards to who will get the starting nod in Week 1 of the regular season against the Indianapolis Colts.

    As we near the end of the NFL preseason, fans and sportswriters are left with more questions than answers as we wonder whether the decisions made by the head coaches will pan out or backfire. But one thing we will probably know is that by the start of the 2013 NFL season, we will have a clear picture of who will be the starting quarterback of all 32 teams for Week 1 of the NFL season.

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