I am endlessly fascinated by quarterback battles. Training camp is mostly just an exercise in exercising patience I don’t have, but the fights to see which quarterback will emerge in wide open situations is the one thing that makes it bearable. This year both the NFL and college ball have some real gems. Baltimore has a three way battle with no clear leader. My lukewarm bet would be on Joe Flacco at this point. I don’t see how a new regime can possibly stick with Kyle Boller, and Troy Smith underwhelms me. The situation at my beloved Michigan is even less clear, with no clear front runner and no choice that makes me particularly optimistic. Damn you, Terrelle Pryor!
When it comes to interesting races, though, nowhere has a more concentrated amount of interest than the city of Miami. Both the Dolphins and the Hurricanes have fascinating races underway, and neither team really has anything to lose. On the other hand, the stakes are high for both teams. If they make the right choice now then they could be set for several years. If not, their current mediocrity (I’m being kind in both cases) will continue.
Perhaps the best thing to happen to Randy Shannon in his time as head coach at Miami is that he gets to start over at quarterback. His recent choices have been less than impressive and have done little to elevate the team. Now he gets to start on a completely fresh page – he hasn’t got a player who has taken a single college snap. He also has the luxury of impressive talent to choose from. So impressive, in fact, that for the time being he isn’t going to make a choice. Robert Marve, a redshirt freshman, was Mr. Football in Florida in 2006, and Jacory Harris won the same award in 2007. Cannon Smith is the third player, and he is no slouch himself. Shannon says that he will platoon at least two of the players for a while until he gets a better picture of what he has. It should be fun to watch, though the team won’t be helped by an ugly early schedule. Whatever the outcome is, there is a good chance that this will be the start of a much brighter era at Quarterback U than the mercifully ended Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman era.
The situation on the pro side with the Dolphins is just as compelling. Again it is a three horse race. Josh McCown should have the edge based on experience, but he is hampered a bit by a bizarre offseason accident – he chopped his own leg with an axe. He’s fine, but he missed some offseason preparation time that might have made him uncatchable. He’s a shifty, elusive quarterback, but he is about as accurate as a weatherman. This time last year John Beck was the future of the team at quarterback. My, how things change. Still, he reportedly is a ridiculously hard worker, and he clearly wants to improve, but he didn’t show enough last year to give the new regime any confidence. The clear sign of that lack of confidence is the third contender – Chad Henne. The high profile rookie wouldn’t have been drafted if Beck was well liked by management. Henne is an underdog to win the race now, ut I would be very confident in betting that he will have a start or more this year. I’m biased by my college fandom, but I think Henne is the real deal.
Both of these races are going to be very interesting to watch early on, because both will go a long way to determining whether these teams will have any vale for bettors this year. I don’t think that the public buys into either of the Miami teams right now, and the probably shouldn’t. If a new player becomes a fast study, though, then they could cover a few fat spreads before people catch on.