The current status of the NFL Quarterback Competitions

Many NFL teams are lucky enough to start their training camps with a clear starter in the quarterback position. The Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, for example, can sing a song or two about it. Other teams do not want (or cannot) decide on a starter behind the center even at the advanced stage of preparation. A quarterback competition is currently mainly for fans of the Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots and Chicago Bears. What is the current status of these teams and who currently has the best cards to get the first snaps in Week One of the 2021 NFL season?

New England Patriots: Mac Jones vs. Cam Newton

“Cam is our starting quarterback”, said Bill Belichick recently at the start of the New England Patriots training camp. So the end of the field for the quarterback competition? Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that! The legendary head coach said afterwards that all players have to earn their roles in the camp. Which of course makes the overall picture anything but clear, especially when paired with the notoriously ambiguous and narrow-lipped statements of the six-time Super Bowl champion.

Some NFL insiders have reported positive water levels about Mac Jones from camp, an impression that he partially backed up with a rock-solid preseason debut. There wasn’t really anything spectacular when he played against Washington’s second defense line-up (4.6 yards per pass attempt), but that could be enough overall. Jones is not only seen as the future, he also gives the Patriots more opportunities in playcalling than Newton, who was recently increasingly limited in the passing game. Nevertheless, the veteran should still keep the starting position at the beginning of the season. For how long is another question.

Denver Broncos: Drew Lock vs. Teddy Bridgewater

Neither of the two quarterbacks entered the Denver Broncos competition with a real tailwind. After all, after Drew Lock’s last season, some wondered if the youngster had what it takes to cause a sensation in the NFL, and Teddy Bridgewater’s season in Carolina didn’t knock anyone off their feet (especially those in charge of the Panthers). Initial worries for Broncos fans are slowly disappearing, however, because it seems as if the competition between the youngster with potential and the experienced professional is good for both potential signal callers.

This was particularly clear not only in training, but also in the brilliant preseason victory over the B version of the Minnesota Vikings. Lock shone with an 80-yard bomb to receiver KJ Hamler and operated with noticeably more self-confidence than last season. Bridgewater played the way you would expect from a smart NFL veteran, with the most offensive strings firmly under control. Accordingly, head coach Vic Fangio is undecided about the starter: “Both played very well and confirmed what I have been saying all along”, so der Head Man. “You are currently ‘even-Steven'”. Have fun then with the decision.

Chicago Bears: Justin Fields vs. Andy Dalton

Justin Fields emerged from a collapsing pocket in the first NFL preseason game of the Chicago Bears against Miami in halftime two and ran over the left side. A murmur went through the crowd, then cheers. The natural speed he conjured up on the field and with which he knocked down several Dolphins defenders was a little foretaste of everything that fans in the Windy City are hoping for from him. A special note, that little bit more that separates the wheat from the chaff in the NFL and the role player from the superstar. A few more highlights did the rest and you could literally feel the enthusiasm that surrounds the first round pick.

Ultimately, however, much of it remains projection for the time being. Not only because head coach Matt Nagy is extremely careful to introduce his young jewel to the NFL shark tank and first wants to rely on veteran Andy Dalton. With Fields’ impressive plays, it is quickly forgotten that he also had a “I’m-green-behind-the-ears-fumble” and an almost interception against Miami. Nagy also admitted that Fields is getting more and more snaps with the starting lineup thanks to his talent. However, the head coach does not (yet) want to deviate from the “Andy Dalton meets Aaron Donald” project in week one.

New Orleans Saints: Jameis Winston vs. Taysom Hill

Did Drew Brees ask his wife last Saturday where she kept his gym bag? The first performance of his successors at the New Orleans Saints would definitely have given rise to it. Neither Taysom Hill, who was allowed to start against the Baltimore Ravens, nor Jameis Winston really knew how to convince in the first NFL preseason contest and each afforded an interception. Overall, the Saints achieved a whopping six turnovers (Ian Book contributed an interception) and their two possible starting quarterbacks should actually prevent that. It’s not for nothing that Sean Payton keeps talking about the importance of leading the team alongside the numbers for a quarterback.

Accordingly, at least Jameis Winston was able to score at times last Saturday. He ran two scoring drives and overall looked a lot safer behind the center than Hill. In general, Winston has one big plus: In his NFL career, at least at times, he has already proven that he can lead a team on a permanent basis. Hill, previously used more as a gadget player, is still guilty of such proof. And finally, after the last NFL season, Drew Brees said to Winston, that this would be his team now. Well, it’s Winston’s “job to lose,” as the Americans say. And Drew Brees can leave the gym bag in the basement for now!


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