QB questions the last thing teams need in training camp

Published 8:30 am Thursday, July 21, 2016

One of the last things an NFL team needs when it enters training camp is uncertainty at quarterback. They all want an Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning or Cam Newton behind center.

Yet six clubs have major questions about their QB situation.

Here’s a look:

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Denver Broncos — You don’t replace a Peyton Manning, not even one struggling at the end of his brilliant career. And all the consternation in Denver about Von Miller’s contract had pushed the QB quandary aside a bit.

Still, it’s a huge issue, particularly with the Broncos opting to let Brock Osweiler walk away to Houston in free agency.

So Gary Kubiak and John Elway must figure out if Mark Sanchez can avoid the big mistakes that have plagued his career. Or whether top pick Paxton Lynch, for whom Denver traded up in the draft, can make the mammoth leap. Or if the only holdover, Trevor Siemian, has the tools.

“The only way that they establish themselves and take the team over is if you somehow give them the opportunity to do that,” Kubiak said. “As a coach, if you’re making decisions before they ever step on the field and don’t give them equal opportunity to prove themselves, I don’t believe in that.”

New England Patriots — “Deflategate” has gone away, and Tom Brady does, indeed, have to sit out the first four games this season. So Jimmy Garoppolo will need lots of reps in training camp and preseason games.

But Brady has a specific regimen for staying sharp, and that will be even more critical this summer if he isn’t playing in September.

Somehow, the Patriots will likely figure it out.

New York Jets — Figuring out what the Jets have been doing — and for that matter, what Ryan Fitzpatrick and his representation have been doing — for the past few months is impossible.

Fitzpatrick comes off a career season and one of the best any Jets QB has had. Then he became a free agent seeking that one last, well-earned big payday at age 35.

The Jets apparently have seen little future with Fitz as their man, even though they have a roster built for now. The three alternate choices are Geno Smith, Bryce Petty, and second-round draft pick Christian Hackenberg.

Philadelphia Eagles — Oft-injured, inconsistent Sam Bradford is their guy. Unless No. 2 overall draft choice Carson Wentz is.

Unless high-priced veteran backup Chase Daniel is.

Philadelphia brought in one of its own former QBs, Doug Pederson, to tutor whoever stands behind center. Early on, he said it would be Bradford. But to think that is a closed competition would be unwise.

“Competition is great, it helped me as a quarterback,” Pederson said.

San Francisco 49ers — In 2012, Colin Kaepernick was the answer in San Francisco. His dynamic style, speed and versatility were the rage of the NFC.

Now, he’s fighting for a job he lost to journeyman Blaine Gabbert in 2015.

New coach Chip Kelly’s offense could use the flair and unpredictability Kaepernick can bring. It can’t afford the bad decisions and turnovers that plagued him recently.

Kelly promises no rash decisions.

“It’s going to be won on the field,” Kelly said. “It’s not going to be won because we have a timetable.”

Los Angeles Rams — New digs on the Left Coast for the Rams. The top overall draft pick in Jared Goff. Not a lot of proven talent behind him.

Is there really a dilemma here?

Well, Goff is just learning how to play under center rather than almost exclusively in the pistol or shotgun. He’s going to face some of the top defenses in the NFL, including the Seahawks and Cardinals twice each. And he’s all of 21.

Case Keenum, another journeyman, is the incumbent. The Rams invested a lot to get Goff. He’ll need to supply the right answers quickly.