10 Quarterback Battles Worth Watching
1. Detroit. Matthew Stafford vs. Daunte Culpepper.
The situation: It's the same old argument. Do you start the rookie or the veteran? The No. 1 pick of the draft is Stafford, but the vet with a chance to win a few games is Culpepper. Stafford is the future but you don't want to damage it. For every Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco there's a Ryan Leaf and Vince Young.
Solution: Start Culpepper and wait until 2010 for Stafford.
2. Minnesota. Sage Rosenfels vs. Tarvaris Jackson.
The situation: On the roster right now, it's Sage vs. Tarvaris. Rosenfels might have the advantage as the starter but some Vikings coaches think Jackson's athletic ability gives the team a better chance to win games. But when Brett Favre signs, and he will, things change. Will it change for the better?
Solution: Sign Brett Favre and hope you win a playoff game.
3. New York Jets. Kellen Clemens vs. Mark Sanchez.
The situation: It's the same here in the Big Apple as it is in Motown. The veteran or the top draft pick? In New York, it's a little different because there's pressure on coach Rex Ryan to start Sanchez. The Jets should have reached the postseason if not for Favre's arm troubles last season. The talent on offense is still good with the running game but not having Laveranues Coles is going to hurt.
Solution: Start Sanchez and hope the defense wins at least three games.
4. Oakland. JaMarcus Russell vs. Jeff Garcia.
The situation: In the barber shop the other day, the boys said Garcia is going to start eventually. Russell is determined to make sure this is his job. Yet, Garcia is confident enough in his abilities he will start. Russell is taking the QBs on a fact-finding mission. That's nice and all, but Garcia knows where to look for offense and it starts at quarterback. Russell did play well in the regular season finale, so there is hope.
The solution: Start Garcia. That's why you signed him.
5. Tampa Bay. Byron Leftwich vs. Josh Freeman vs. Luke McCown vs. Somebody else.
The situation: Jon Gruden left a mess of things for coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski at the quarterback position. Freeman is not as polished as Stafford or Sanchez, so sitting him is smart. But Leftwich left the Steelers to become a starter and helps the Bucs win more than nine games. But this roster is younger and better with the additions of Derrick Ward and Kellen Winslow II.
The solution: Leftwich is the man, but if he struggles, give Freeman some starts late in the year.
6. San Francisco. Shaun Hill vs. Alex Smith.
The situation: We like what the 49ers did in the draft, from Michael Crabtree to Scott McKillop, but some of the veterans we don't like. Hill finished 28th in completions and yards last season. But, Hill was tied for the sixth fewest picks in the league. Smith just needs a fresh start now that Mike Nolan is history and his arm is healed.
The solution: Smith is more talented than Hill. It will show come training camp. Expect Smith to start.
7. Denver. Kyle Orton vs. Chris Simms.
The situation: The Broncos had a quarterback in Jay Cutler but screwed it up and were forced to trade him. Now, they're stuck with Orton -- and he's no Matt Cassel, somebody who Josh McDaniels groomed last year in New England. Simms is now 100 percent healthy and should make things interesting in training camp.
The solution: McDaniels will start Orton, but Simms will finish the year as No. 1 on the depth chart.
8. Cleveland. Brady Quinn vs. Derek Anderson.
The situation: It's time for somebody to deliver something. The Browns are paying Anderson like he's a starter while Quinn is still on his rookie contract. It's a bad situation. Really. Expect the Browns to mess this up because they have Eric Mangini as coach.
The solution: Quinn is more athletic yet doesn't have as strong an arm; his inexperience will also hurt the teams' chances in winning close games.
9. Arizona. Kurt Warner vs. Matt Leinart.
The situation: There really isn't any. Warner signed a new two-year deal to finish his career in the desert with Leinart waiting in the wings. But Warner never does anything easy. Health and ineffective play could happen at any minute.
The solution: Warner is the guy, even if he struggles. But if the Cardinals fail to reach the playoffs, we wonder if Leinart becomes the man in 2010.
10. Miami. Chad Pennington vs. Chad Henne.
The situation: It's documented that this is Pennington's last year. He saved the Dolphins last year in helping them reach the playoffs with his poise under pocket and his 97.4 QB rating, good for second in the league. But Henne is the future. Pennington is playing for another contract and it's not going to be here.
The solution: If it turns south in South Beach, move Henne in. For now, it's Pennington's job.