Lists are the one thing in the sports world that can be counted on to consistently fire people up, and if there's one thing we don't do enough of here at The Corner, it's make you angry. Every Monday, Shutdown Corner presents a list of five NFL-related somethings.
There's no bad time of year for a quarterback controversy. Even in June, with the draft having come and gone, and most of free agency behind us, most quarterback battles that are going to exist have already taken shape. Let's look at the five most interesting battles to be fought out over minicamps and training camp.
1. Minnesota Vikings: Sage Rosenfels(notes) vs. Tarvaris Jackson(notes) vs. Brett Favre(notes). An easy choice for the top spot, for a few reasons. Number one, there are three quarterbacks involved, not two (yes, I still think Brett Favre will end up there for '09). The more important reason, though, is that the stakes are higher, because the Vikings figure to be pretty good. If the right quarterbacks wins the race, or Rosenfels or Jackson happen to improve dramatically, we could be talking about a Super Bowl team here.
It's also going to be funny if Rosenfels and Jackson push each other in camp, work the hardest they've ever worked, grow as players and people, and one of them emerges with the hard-earned chance to lead a ready-built playoff team ... and then Brett Favre shows up and says, "Sorry, fellas! I have whims that need to be catered to! Back to the bench you go!"
2. Cleveland Browns: Derek Anderson(notes) vs. Brady Quinn(notes). Quinn's the early favorite, and I'll be surprised if he doesn't win the job well before the season starts. I find it interesting, though, because of the guy who would be left on the bench. A first-round draft pick like Quinn, I expect to eventually get a chance to start. But Anderson's not the typical veteran being pushed out. He's also young, he's also physically gifted, and he's proven (if only for a short time) that he can play in the NFL.
At this stage of his career (and this isn't a criticism of the Browns, it's just the hand they've been dealt), I'd like to see a guy like Anderson getting a chance to find his confidence again or make whatever adjustments he needs to make, because the potential is obviously there.
3. Oakland Raiders: JaMarcus Russell(notes) vs. Jeff Garcia(notes). I posted about the upcoming quarterback controversy the second I heard that Garcia was going to be a Raider. Russell's obviously loaded with talent, but I don't think he's ready yet to be a consistently good quarterback in the league. Unless he makes huge strides this offseason -- which is entirely possible -- fans are going to be calling for the proven veteran Garcia almost immediately. He lacks all of Russell's explosiveness, but will protect the football, demand respect in the huddle, and provide some stability.
4. San Francisco 49ers: Shaun Hill(notes) vs. Alex Smith. Much like Quinn in Cleveland, it seems like Hill is the leader in the clubhouse here. It seems that way because he's competing against Alex Smith.
Hill went 5-3 as a starter last season while Smith sat the year out with a shoulder injury. Before that, he was widely regarded as a colossal draft bust with small hands a not-so-bright future. I'm not sure I buy that, though, as guys don't get drafted first overall without some physical tools. Smith is probably the underdog in the competition right now, but I'd love to see him win it and have a productive year. That would make for an outstanding redemption story.
5. Philadelphia Eagles: Donovan McNabb(notes) vs. Kevin Kolb(notes). Yes, it's a stretch to suggest that there will be any sort of quarterback controversy here, but you never know. McNabb did get benched last year. The reason I find it so interesting is that McNabb is so grossly under appreciated, and Kolb is so clearly not ready to be a starting quarterback, and yet, there are fans in Philadelphia who want to see Kolb under center. Those people deserve to see exactly that.