August 17, 2009
A full week of preseason football is almost in the books (two games remain tonight), so let's go to the judges' scorecards on Round 1 of the quarterback battles around the league.
Mark Sanchez(notes) vs. Kellen Clemens(notes): We'll start with the Jets, where rookie Mark Sanchez scored the closest thing to a first-round knockout. Kellen Clemens started the game, but Sanchez came in and earned rave reviews, hitting a 48-yard deep ball on his first play, then leading the Jets on a touchdown drive. Sanchez has already been named the starter for Week 2 against the Ravens.
Matthew Stafford(notes) vs. Daunte Culpepper(notes): The other high-profile rookie, first overall pick Matthew Stafford, also earned some positive reviews. He had one horrific mistake against the Falcons, throwing off-balance to a receiver in the flat, which was turned into a pick-six. A bit later he made up for it, throwing a beautiful touchdown strike, in the face of a blitz, to rookie wide receiver Derrick Williams(notes), who was being covered very well.
How well Stafford plays might not have anything to do with whether or not he starts, though, as the Lions might just take a "Let's not feed him to the wolves just yet approach." Incumbent starter Daunte Culpepper went 5-of-6 for 41 yards.
Kyle Orton(notes) vs ... Chris Simms(notes), maybe? There wasn't thought to be a quarterback controversy in Denver, but Kyle Orton, thought to be the starter, is trying really hard to start one. He threw three interceptions in his preseason debut against San Francisco, and then watched Chris Simms come in and go 11-of-17 for 142 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Head coach Josh McDaniels insists that Orton remains the starter, though.
This feels like the best time to point out that you can't read too much into these preseason performances. There are a ton of variables to measure, like which QBs are playing with the best receivers and linemen, and which are facing defenses currently made of future UFL'ers. So with that in mind, yes, Orton absolutely deserves more chances to prove he's the guy for the Broncos, but at the same, I think Josh McDaniels would be doing his team a disservice if Chris Simms didn't get an extended look, too.
Sage Rosenfels(notes) vs. Tarvaris Jackson(notes): Minnesota is home to maybe the most evenly-matched quarterback battle of the preseason, with Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson seemingly on equal footing. Rosenfels came out in Round 1 and outjabbed Jackson to take the lead.
Rosenfels finished the day 10-of-13 for 91 yards as the starter, while Jackson could only go 7-of-15 for 39 yards in relief. Neither threw any touchdowns or interceptions, but I think the key stat is this: In yards per pass attempt, Rosenfels gave the Vikings 7.0 and Jackson gave them 2.6. Jackson gets his chance to start in the next game, though.
Brady Quinn(notes) vs. Derek Anderson(notes): Brady Quinn looks to be the clear leader for the Browns' job. He got the start against the Packers on Saturday night and played decently. "Decent" isn't exactly what the Browns are looking for, but that certainly beat the performance of Derek Anderson, who might as well have come on to the field, stuck his mouthpiece up his nose, did the worm and returned to the sideline.
Quinn went 7-of-11 for 68 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. In fairness to him, though, the numbers in the touchdown and interception columns should be reversed, as the play right before he threw the pick, he hit Braylon Edwards(notes) in the chest in the back of the endzone, and Edwards dropped it (sigh). It was a very nice throw into traffic.
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