Saturday, July 26, 2008

Most Intriguing Training Camp Battles, No. 1: Starting QB

I'm not going to go through all the failures at quarterback the Dolphins have had since Dan Marino retired because, well, I have plans this weekend. I think we're all aware lack the of a franchise quarterback has been a burden on this team for nearly a decade now. The team hopes that franchise signal-caller is already on the team, but who will start in the immediate future?

Many Dolphins fans weren't too thrilled with the signing of Josh McCown, but I feel that's only because they didn't understand the reasoning behind it. McCown was not signed to be the future of the team, nor was he necessarily signed to even start at all. While I'm no McCown fan by any stretch, I realize the absolute necessity of having at least one quarterback on the team with legitimate NFL experience. Maybe he was the best out there, maybe he wasn't. I actually believe the latter. But quite frankly, it doesn't matter if he was the best or not because he's merely a placeholder for John Beck, Chad Henne or some yet-to-be-acquired quarterback prospect. Remember: there are no Peyton Mannings or Tom Bradys on the free agent market. It just doesn't happen.

As a quarterback, McCown can probably best be described as mediocre. His accuracy and decision-making are questionable at best, and during stints in Arizona, Detroit and Oakland he's pretty much proven he's not a legitimate starting quarterback. That being said, he's probably the best quarterback on the team right now and as the only veteran is the safe pick to start in 2008. He's also a serviceable sixth receiver, so he's got that going for him, which is nice.

While McCown is the safe pick and he definitely has a legitimate chance at starting, he is not the guy I hope starts. I do believe McCown would probably be the most productive in 2008 out of the players on the roster, if only because of Beck's and Henne's inexperience. However, I feel is simply little risk in starting 2007 second-rounder Beck.

Though Beck is holdover from the Cam Cameron era probably not the team's quarterback of the future (if only because he's not "Parcells' guy"), it seems to me that you should at least find out what you have in a guy that was one of the best quarterback prospects in the draft only a year ago. McCown won't light to world on fire and Miami is unlikely to be competitive this season anyway, so why not give Beck a year to show what he can do before Henne is ready to take the reins?

The way I see it, there's no risk. If Beck emerges as a productive NFL starter, then your quarterback search is over. Perhaps in such an event, Henne becomes your own version of the Falcons' Matt Schaub and you can get some value for him in trade a few years from now. If Beck shows some skills but Henne's still your guy, maybe it's Beck that you trade somewhere down the line. If Beck flat-out fails, you still have Henne waiting in the wings.

I won't complain if McCown starts because I understand the reasoning behind it. If you're trying to field the best possible team in 2008, then he's the right choice. But as someone that's not optimistic about the team's chances this season and who would like to see what we have in some of our prospects, I'm hoping that Beck is given a year under the new regime to prove his value.

The position(s): Starting quarterback

Number of spots: One

The contenders:
Josh McCown, John Beck, Chad Henne

Predicted winner(s):
Beck

Reason:
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Beck gets his shot in 2008 while McCown fills the No. 2 spot in the event Beck struggles. I don't feel Henne is a legitimate contender at this point, as I think the team would rather sit him for a season before letting him for the gig in '09. That being said, we could see a glimpse of Henne late this year if the season is lost and Beck and McCown haven't produced.