Mayfield, Darnold, Rosen, Jackson: Quarterback Battles to Watch this Season

If you don’t follow American football, you probably thought this headline was talking about a law firm (S/O BenJarvus Green-Ellis). If you do, you already know that ESPN will soon talk about none other than two things: the National Anthem and quarterback controversies.

In the 2018 NFL Draft, five quarterbacks were taken in the first round. I intentionally left Josh Allen out of the title because well… he’s going to bust. Of the five first-rounders, it’s hard to confidently predict that any one of them will take the field on their teams first possession. That being said, let’s take a closer look into the handful of teams who have entered training camp with an actual starting battle this season.

Note: All depth charts according to cbssports.com. Official depth charts will be released prior to the first preseason games.


Arizona Cardinals

Depth Chart: Starter – Sam Bradford, Second – Josh Rosen, Third – Mike Glennon

According to Darren Urban of the Cardinals’ official site, “Bradford has been a full-go during training camp and taken all first-team reps.” As we all know, Sam Bradford is not known for his durability. Year after year, it seems as if the Big Bad Turf Monster will huff and puff and tear down Sammy’s season within the first eight weeks.

10th-overall pick Josh Rosen is eager to step on the field to reinforce his draft night comment stating, “nine mistakes were made ahead of me.” Should Bradford go down during the year, we’ll see the former UCLA standout take his place in the huddle.

Former Chicago Bears experiment, Mike Glennon, will handle the sideline work for the Cardinals.


Baltimore Ravens

Depth Chart: Starter – Joe Flacco, Second – Lamar Jackson, Third – Robert Griffin III (RG3!)

After three straight seasons of playoff-less football, Ravens’ fans have to be wanting more from their “elite” starting quarterback. (When do we retire this joke?) Flacco posted a 43.0 in ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating last season, placing him above Brett Hundley, Andy Dalton, Jay Cutler, Jacoby Brissett, DeShone Kizer, Mitch Trubisky, and Trevor Siemian. Yikes.

Despite looking impressive so far in training camp, the Baltimore contingent will likely get restless if Flacco doesn’t start the first half of the season with a positive win/loss column. It is looking increasingly unlikely that Lamar Jackson will get any starting reps this season, barring injury to Flacco.

It is a rarity to see two Heisman winning quarterbacks on the same roster, let alone neither one of them starting. We will have to patiently wait for John Harbaugh to hand over the reins to Lamar Jackson. Here’s to hoping it happens sooner… rather than later. *Raises glass.*


Buffalo Bills

Depth Chart: Starter – AJ McCarron, Second – Nathan Peterman, Third – Josh Allen

Take as long as you need to digest the depth chart above. The Bills look a NBA team trying to tank.

In 11 career games, AJ McCarron has posted a 64.7% completion percentage, 6 TDs, and 2 picks. The sample size is incredibly small but is nonetheless respectable. Hopefully McCarron proves the doubters wrong because I cannot see either of the guys behind him having a successful NFL career.

The only reason I can think of that the Bills took Josh Allen over Josh Rosen is because of the Buffalo weather. Allen needs some grooming AND some time before he’s thrown into the fire/snow.


Cleveland Browns

Depth Chart: Starter – Tyrod Taylor, Second – Baker Mayfield, Third – Drew Stanton

This is where the fun begins. All reports show that Tyrod Taylor will take the field on Week 1, and after leading Buffalo to the playoffs last season, he probably deserves to. However, if Tyrod flounders within the first four games, Baker will get a shot at the job this season.

I am a firm believer in Baker Mayfield. Why? Look at what the Houston Texans did in drafting Deshaun Watson last year. I’m not saying Baker is Deshaun, but both of these quarterbacks were the best offensive players in college football the year before they entered the draft. The Browns gambled on the right QB.

While Drew Stanton is unlikely to take the field this season, he has already made a brilliant contribution to the Cleveland Browns. HBO’s Hard Knocks starts a week from today (LETS GOOOOO), and all media access will be denied entry to the QBs’ RV. Drew Stanton, you’re a genius.


New York Jets

Depth Chart: Starter – Josh McCown, Second – Teddy Bridgewater, Third – Sam Darnold

The most competitive QB battle in the NFL undoubtedly belongs to the New York Jets. Consummate professional Josh McCown will start Week 1, but he has two dogs on his tail.

Teddy Bridgewater has impressed the organization early into his career in New York, although trade rumors are already swirling. I am one of many rooting for Teddy to get another starting chance in the league. Teams like the Giants, Buccaneers, Dolphins, and Bills should keep an eye on the Jets asking price should they be looking to deal him.

Yesterday, Sam Darnold ended his rookie holdout (the balls on this guy, smh) and signed a four-year, $30.2 million deal. Josh McCown is the perfect mentor for Darnold in New York. Darnold’s slow-clap entry into training camp was exciting for Jets fans. Expect to see Darnold take over the huddle at some point this season.


Two more quarterback battles to keep an eye on this season are taking place in Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.

It is highly unlikely that Nick Foles plays over last year’s MVP candidate Carson Wentz this season, but who knows how Wentz’s knee holds up. I am rooting for Wentz to make a healthy comeback. You can only imagine how he was feeling on the sidelines during the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory.

Like Teddy Bridgewater, Nick Foles should be another potential trade target for teams looking to acquire a starting QB. As of right now, Philly’s asking price may be too high.

In Tampa, the Buccaneers are losing faith in Jameis Winston. Whether its with Marshon Lattimore or with Uber drivers, Winston simply can’t keep his hands to himself. Will the Buccaneers look to move on from Jameis if he doesn’t come back strong from suspension? Only time will tell.

He won’t be on the field for at least the first four weeks, but until then, at least we have this…

Eric Chan from Hollywood, United States, Josh Rosen vs Virginia, CC BY 2.0

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