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Preseason QB Breakdown

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Preseason Coaching Angles

When handicapping NFL Preseason action, I find the #1 aspect to examine is depth & GAME EXPERIENCE at the QB spot. I have found over the years the teams that have the deepest, most experienced QB depth fares well in preseason games. The key here is to locate solid, experienced 2nd and 3rd string QB's, who can likely exploit the 2nd and 3rd defensive units they will be facing.

2013 PRESEASON QB ROTATIONS
TEAM STARTER BACKUP 3RD STRING 4TH STRING
ARIZONA PALMER STANTON LINDLEY --
ATLANTA RYAN D. DAVIS RENFREE DOEGE
BALTIMORE FLACCO TAYLOR HANIE --
BUFFALO KOLB MANUEL TUEL --
CAROLINA NEWTON D. ANDERSON CLAUSEN C. CAMERON
CHICAGO CUTLER J. MCCOWN BLANCHARD --
CINCINNATI DALTON J. JOHNSON SKELTON Z. ROBINSON
CLEVELAND WEEDEN J. CAMPBELL HOYER --
DALLAS ROMO ORTON N. STEPHENS --
DENVER P. MANNING OSWEILER DYSERT KATZ
DETROIT STAFFORD S. HILL K. MOORE T. LEWIS
GREEN BAY RODGERS HARRELL B. COLEMAN --
HOUSTON SCHAUB YATES KEENUM S. MCGEE
INDIANAPOLIS LUCK M. HASSELBECK HARNISH --
JACKSONVILLE GABBERT HENNE KAFKA M. SCOTT
KANSAS CITY A. SMITH DANIEL BRAY STANZI
MIAMI TANNEHILL M. MOORE DEVLIN --
MINNESOTA PONDER CASSEL BETHEL-THOMPSON --
NEW ENGLAND BRADY MALLETT TEBOW --
NEW ORLEANS BREES S. WALLACE L. MCCOWN R. GRIFFIN
NY GIANTS E. MANNING CARR NASSIB PAINTER
NY JETS SANCHEZ G. SMITH M. SIMMS MCELROY
OAKLAND FLYNN PRYOR T. WILSON MCGLOIN
PHILADELPHIA VICK FOLES BARKLEY DIXON
PITTSBURGH ROETHLISBERGER L. JONES GRADKOWSKI J. WILSON
SAN DIEGO RIVERS WHITEHURST SORENSEN --
SAN FRANCISCO KAEPERNICK MCCOY TOLZIEN B. DANIELS
SEATTLE R. WILSON QUINN T. JACKSON --
ST. LOUIS BRADFORD CLEMENS A. DAVIS --
TAMPA BAY FREEMAN ORLOVSKY GLENNON A. WEBER
TENNESSEE LOCKER FITZPATRICK R. SMITH ENDERLE
WASHINGTON GRIFFIN COUSINS GROSSMAN P. WHITE

Based on the QB depth charts by team listed above, I have identified the following teams as targets (either favorable or unfavorable) for the upcoming preseason:

Favorable (listed in alphabetical order):

ARIZONA: Palmer, Stanton, Lindley. There are many aspects to like about this 3 man QB rotation, most of which is the fact Carson Palmer is the new starter, and will thus likely see more series and plays than normal to get better acclimated to his new coaching staff, teammates and weapons. #2 Drew Stanton, in his 7th NFL season, joined ARI this offseason and has appeared in 12 career games, including extended action in 2010. 3rd stringer Ryan Lindley appeared in 6 games his rookie year, and although he struggled mightily last year with a ratio of 0/7, that in game experience should help when facing 2nd and 3rd stringers from the opponents defense.

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BALTIMORE: Flacco, Taylor, Hanie.
Flacco, fresh off his new big dollar contract, doesn't figure to see extended preseason action, meaning more snaps for Tyrod Taylor and Caleb Hanie. T2 has seen limited regular season action outside last year's Wk17 matchup @ CIN where he played pretty well considering it was on the road versus a divisional rival that was heading to the playoffs. However, Taylor has played well (for the most part) in the last two preseason's, and is equally as dangerous with his legs as his arm. Caleb Hanie joined the Ravens this offseason from CHI, and has played in 10 regular season games over 6 years including extended action in 2011. The Ravens should have a significant advantage late in preseason games with Taylor's legs, and when Hanie faces 2nd & 3rd string defenders.

CAROLINA: Newton, D. Anderson, Clausen, C. Cameron. Obviously Cam Newton will not see a ton of preseason action, but the Panthers have 3 backups, 2 of which have played in the regular season, which should equal plus QB play late in these preseason games. Anderson enters his 3rd season as the CAR backup, and although he has not played much in the last two years, he started for CLE multiple seasons posting some impressive numbers, especially in 2007. Clausen enters his 4th season in the NFL, all with CAR, and has not played in the regular season since 2010, pre Cam Newton. He did not play well that season, a big reason CAR burned a first round pick on a QB for a 2nd straight season heading into 2011. That being said Clausen has talent, and should at worst offer neutral QB play versus 2nd and 3rd string defenses. Colby Cameron is in his first year after posting great numbers at Louisiana Tech last season.

CINCINNATI: Dalton, J. Johnson, Skelton, Z. Robinson. Like Flacco & Newton above do not expect to see an abundance of Andy Dalton snaps during the preseason as he is fresh off leading CIN to back to back playoff appearances. Josh Johnson, in his 5th season but 2nd with CIN, has appeared in 27 games during his career (all with TB), but has limited passing statistics only attempting 177 in those games. 2009 was the season he played most, before Josh Freeman took over. 3rd stringer Josh Skelton joins CIN this year after three years with ARI where he saw significant, extended action appearing in 20 games and attempting over 600 passes; he may be the most experienced 3rd string QB on any NFL depth chart (outside Rex Grossman), which is typically a massive edge in preseason handicapping. Last on the depth chart is Zac Robinson, who enters his 2nd season and has yet to take a snap. Depending on how much Robinson plays the QB spot could be a HUGE edge for the Bengals this preseason.

CLEVELAND: Weeden, J. Campbell, Hoyer. Although the starter with CLE, whoever that may be, would be ranked among the worst in the NFL, the depth at this spot should be an advantage for the Browns during the preseason. Last year's starter Brandon Weeden played pretty well overall considering he was a rookie and didn't have a ton of weapons around him. I expect Weeden to win the starter's job in 2013, and also see extended snaps this preseason to give him more experience. 2nd stringer Jason Campbell has been a starter in the NFL, playing in 77 games with a career QB Rating of a solid 82.7. 3rd stringer Brian Hoyer enters his 5th season, but just his first year with CLE after stints with NE & ARI. Although he has limited game experience he is widely regarded as one of the better backup QB's in the NFL, and should help boost his stock some facing 2nd and 3rd string defenses. I would not be surprised if in the next year or two Hoyer gets a deal similar to what Flynn landed.

NEW ORLEANS: Brees, Wallace, L. McCown, Griffin. We all know about Drew Brees, and expect HC Sean Payton to play him limited snaps in the preseason. That is precisely why they are currently carrying 4 QBs, and the 2nd stringer is the experienced Seneca Wallace. Wallace has played 9 seasons, with 2 clubs CLE & SEA. His most significant action came in 2008 with SEA, and overall in his career he has played in 62 games and attempted 750+ passes. With a career QB Rating of 81.3, and the ability to beat teams with his legs as well, look for Wallace to be a plus under center. 3rd stringer Luke McCown enters his 10th NFL season with his 5th different team. He has never appeared in more than 5 games in a season, and does not have extensive regular season experience; however, he has played in the NFL for 9 years, and appeared in many preseason games which will help him at least hold his own versus lower string defenses. 4th stringer Ryan Griffin is in his rookie season out of Tulane.

WASHINGTON: Griffin III, Cousins, Grossman, P. White. Don't expect many snaps taken by RGIII this preseason as he returns from his torn ACL suffered in last season's playoff loss to SEA. That being said the Skins are still in relatively good shape at the QB position, with 2nd year guy Kirk Cousins set to be the backup. Cousins filled in admirably for RGIII last season, playing in 3 games and posting a 101.6 QB Rating, obviously very solid. He should continue to flourish in HC Mike Shanahan's QB friendly system. 3rd stringer Rex Grossman enters his 11th season, and has seen extensive NFL action through his career. He was the starter for CHI in 2006, and for WAS in 2011. He did not take any snaps last season, but I feel very confident in his abilities versus 2nd and 3rd string defenders this preseason. Grossman could even be traded if other teams suffer a QB injury. Pat White is the 4th stringer has not completed a pass in the NFL, but has the legs to cause problems versus lower level defenders in 4th quarters during preseason action. There is no guarantee White even sees snaps under center, which if he didn't would only be an advantage to WAS.

Unfavorable (listed in alphabetical order):

ATLANTA: Ryan, D. Davis, Renfree, Doege. To put it bluntly, the Falcons are in a lot of trouble under center when Matt Ryan isn't taking the snaps. 2nd stringer Dominique Davis enters his 2nd season, 3rd stringer Sean Renfree & 4th stringer Seth Doege are rookies, and no QB outside Ryan has taken a snap in the NFL. Look for the ATL offense to really struggle this preseason, especially in Gms1, 2 & 4 when Ryan will not be taking a bulk of the snaps.

DENVER: P. Manning, Osweiler, Dysert, Katz. The Broncos QB depth chart is very similar to that of ATL. Outside MVP candidate Peyton Manning DEN has basically no NFL experience from any of their three backups. Brock Osweiler remains listed as the #2 - he enters his 2nd season and only attempted 4 passes during the 2012 regular season. 3rd stringer Zac Dysert was selected in the 7th round out of Miami, OH and enters his rookie season while 4th stringer Ryan Katz, out of San Diego State, enters his rookie season as well. Look for the Broncos to struggle with QB play once Peyton Manning exits - and also look for Peyton to take less snaps than most starters this preseason.

NY JETS: Sanchez, G. Smith, M. Simms, McElroy. One of the biggest QB controversies heading into the 2013 regular season is that of the NYJ - will Mark Sanchez hang onto his job, or will first round draft pick Geno Smith take over? That question will likely not be answered until early September, but for preseason action look for both to take about the same amount of snaps. Although Sanchez has the experience edge Smith brings more measurables to the table and may be the favorite to win the job - if not when the season starts as it progresses. With Simms and McElroy also in the rotation the entire group is filled with question marks as QB play appears to be a big issue for NYJ not only during the preseason but as the regular season commences.

  
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