The most interesting part of the NFL preseason – I assure you there is at least one interesting part – is watching a select few positional battles. As you’d expect from the QB-focused league, the best battles this year are for the right to start under center.
Four teams had serious QB battles going at the start of the exhibition calendar – the Browns, Jets, Bills, and Texans.
The Jets’ competition between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith was decided for them by IK Enemkpali and his happy fists.
Meanwhile, Houston just named one-time Tom Brady-backup Brian Hoyer the starter over erstwhile Tom Brady-understudy Ryan Mallett. (Did I mention it’s Thesaurus-Thursday at the office?)
But the battles rage on for the Browns and Bills.
Well, “rage” might not be the right word for what’s happening in the quarterback morass that is Cleveland; head coach Mike Pettine has done the smart thing and not let the competition between veteran Josh McCown and fan-favorite Johnny Manziel fester, declaring McCown no. 1 on the depth chart until further notice. Expect the former Buccaneer to get the nod in Week 1. (Though he’s a prime candidate to be the first QB benched, which we discuss further, below.)
Manziel’s lingering elbow injury also hurts any remaining chance he had to start in Week 1.
The battle in Buffalo is going down to the wire. Tyrod Taylor, who likely went into the preseason third on Rex Ryan’s clipboard, looks to have the late edge after a good camp and a couple solid in-game performances. You can pretty much scrub EJ Manuel’s name from the list of potential Week 1 starters, but former Tom Brady … umm … fill-in (?) Matt Cassel still has a shot.
Will Taylor and McCown, the current frontrunners, stay frontrunny through the latter half of the preseason? We set the odds, below, along with the odds for who will be the first QB benched in 2015, and the O/U on games played for the likes of Brady, RGIII, and a couple big name rookies.
Odds to start at QB in Week 1:
“But wait,” you say, “you had Fitzpatrick more likely than RGIII to be the first QB benched.” That’s true, you observant reader, you! But there’s always that small matter of injuries. RGIII sort of has a history. (And that link doesn’t even include this one.)
(Photo credit: Erik Drost (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode]. Photo may appear cropped.)
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