With NFL training camps underway, there are multiple question marks surrounding the quarterback position for various franchises. While some teams don’t have an immediate concern about who will start under center in Week 1, others are forced to make a difficult decision.
Here, we discuss the five biggest quarterback battles entering the 2020 season:
5. Pittsburgh Steelers- Mason Rudolph vs Devlin Hodges
At the age of 38, the Pittsburgh Steelers are not wavering from their commitment to veteran Ben Roethlisberger. That being said, who will be the clear-cut backup through the 2020 campaign?
Last season, neither Rudolph or Hodges managed to impress. For Rudolph specifically, he managed to stay afloat with a starting record of 5-5 last season. Still, he only managed to total 175+ passing yards once in his first four games, and was responsible for 1+ turnover in six different games. While expectations weren’t high by any means, there are obvious concerns about relying on him again in case of injury.
Under Hodges, the Steelers managed to win in each of his first four starts. During that span, he totaled a TD:INT ratio of 2:1. Just as Pittsburgh became confident in Hodges as the starter, the team never scored more than 10 points in their final three games of the season. As a result, they sat on the outside of the playoff picture.
The backup battle of Rudolph and Hodges will become a fascinating sight. Can Rudolph improve his play after an inconsistent 2019 outing? Is Hodges a reliable option if forced to in replacement of Roethlisberger?
4. Miami Dolphins- Ryan Fitzpatrick vs Tua Tagovailoa
In the 2020 Draft, the Miami Dolphins didn’t need to trade up in order to draft their quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa. Despite suffering from a dislocated hip during his final season at Alabama, the potential of Tagovailoa is enough for Dolphins fans to get excited.
When looking at Tagovailoa’s time at Alabama, he compiled 7,442 passing yards, 87 touchdowns, and was limited to 11 interceptions. Clearly he is the future of the franchise, so what’s stopping him?
Assuming he is healthy, the Dolphins will need to decide whether throwing Tagovailoa into instant competition is the smartest option for the franchise. If not, 37-year old journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the immediate answer.
While the Dolphins sat with a 5-11 record under Fitzpatrick last season, he did give the team momentum at times. In his five wins, he totaled 11 touchdowns to only three interceptions. In the other 11 losses, he struggled with nine touchdowns to 10 interceptions. The Dolphins won their final two games of the 2019 season, which included a shocking win over the New England Patriots.
The expectations are still drastically low for the Dolphins entering the new season. Would it be smarter to let Tagovailoa sit for a year? Could this be Fitzpatrick’s final year as a potential starter in the NFL?
3. Los Angeles Chargers- Tyrod Taylor vs Justin Herbert
Despite having not started an NFL game since 2018, the Los Angeles Chargers remain confident with Tyrod Taylor as their starter for the new season. During his three-year tenure with the Buffalo Bills, Taylor compiled a winning record of 22-20.
Despite the doubts, Taylor could turn out to still be a valuable starting quarterback in the NFL. He has thrown for 3,000+ passing yards twice in his career, and has never surrendered more than six interceptions in a single season.
The elephant in the room becomes the 6th overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft in Justin Herbert. During his senior season at Oregon, he managed to total a career-high in passing yards (3,471) and touchdowns (32).
Both quarterbacks could be seen as starters for the next several seasons. Taylor, 31, is clearly the one with more NFL experience. How short is the leash of Taylor this season? How long will it take before Herbert takes over the role as the starter?
2. Washington Football Team- Dwayne Haskins vs Kyle Allen vs Alex Smith
Based on last season’s play, it’s a fair statement to claim that Washington had trouble at the quarterback position. Under Haskins, the team never won a game by 10 points or more. To take it even further, Haskins has never thrown a touchdown pass and won in the same game. Would the team be willing to let him sit on the bench and gain experience that way?
With Kyle Allen, what you see is what you get. The Carolina Panthers won in each of his first four starts, but proceeded to lose in his last seven starts. During the losing stretch, Allen threw 11 interceptions and was sacked 26 times.
However, the most interesting headline from Washington comes from Alex Smith; who hasn’t played since getting injured in November of 2018. After being cleared for football activities, he clearly provides Washington with leadership, experience, and efficient play.
Prior to the injury, Smith led Washington to a 6-4 record in the 2018 season and totaled 2,180 passing yards, 10 touchdowns, and five interceptions. He has merited a completion percentage of 60% or higher from 2011-18; something Haskins (58.6%) failed to do in his rookie season.
The Redskins have a full depth chart at the quarterback position, but the question becomes who gives them the best chance at winning. Is Haskins in danger of losing the starting job? If Smith isn’t healthy, would Washington replace Haskins with Allen at some point?
1. Chicago Bears- Mitch Trubisky vs Nick Foles
Entering the month of August, we still don’t have a clear answer on who will be the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears. Under Trubisky, the Bears have accumulated a 23-18 record. Through Foles’ eight-year NFL career, he holds a starting record of 26-22.
After being selected as the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Chicago has been underwhelmed with Trubisky’s performance to date. In 2019 specifically, he had seven games in which he did not complete a touchdown pass. Despite the Bears winning three of their first four games, they proceeded to lose in four of Trubisky’s next five starts.
In March, the Bears received Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles from the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for a compensatory fourth-round pick. He only appeared in four games during the 2019 season, but the Jaguars didn’t win a single game with him under center.
This story comes at an interesting time: The Bears elected to decline their fifth-year option Trubisky, while Foles could be signed through the 2022 season. Is this Trubisky’s last year in Chicago? Would the team be willing to commit to Foles moving forward?