There are a number of teams this offseason that have declared their quarterback position to be up for grabs. The Dolphins, Browns, Seahawks, and Titans have highly contested battles at the position, and those teams would like their quarterbacks to believe that each of them has a shot at landing the starting job. Sorry guys. I’m not buying the “open competition” rhetoric.
The Dolphins may have the most interesting situation of all the teams I listed above. They would love for Ryan Tannehill to be comparable to David Garrard and Moore, but early returns from observers have David Garrard as the clear leader. There’s a lot of time left between now and the opening game of the regular season, but it looks as if Tannehill may have to play backup duty for a year or two. Make no mistake about it. If Tannehill was comparable in quality to Garrard, he’d be the starter.
The situation in Tennessee is very similar to the situation in Miami. If Jake Locker is nearly equal with Matt Hasselbeck, Locker will be the starter. The goal for these teams is to remain competitive while grooming their franchise quarterback. Locker looked solid last season in clean up duty, and I do get the feeling this is the year he finishes as the Titans’ starting quarterback. Whether he starts the season with that job or not has yet to be seen.
The Seahawks are in the process of moving on to Matt Flynn. While they say they have a completely open competition, the Seahawks have no intent of going back to Tarvaris Jackson as their starting quarterback. Russell Wilson may have a legitimate chance to pull in the starting job, but that’s a tall order for any rookie quarterback. The way I see it, this is an open and shut competition.
That brings us to the Cleveland Browns. This is the knee slapper of the bunch. The Browns brought in Brandon Weeden to replace Colt McCoy, not to back him up. The cruelty here is that the Browns are hanging on to Colt McCoy, and it’s still unclear whether they’ll unload him via trade, cut him, or keep him on the team as their backup quarterback. Regardless of what they do with him, he never had a legitimate chance of winning back his former job.
Open quarterback competitions sound great on paper. The idea is that the best competitor will get the job, but every team is leaning one way or the other. Coaches often want to start a younger player because that gives him time to develop as a starter and have many great years with the team. The way to gain long term success in the NFL is by fielding a young franchise quarterback and developing his successor while the starter is still in good shape. The Green Bay Packers are the greatest contemporary example of how it should be done. I subscribe to the theory that if you have more than one quarterback, you don’t have any quarterbacks.