The quest for the franchise quaterback

As the second week of NFL preseason wraps up, there is still some teams seeking their franchise quarterback.

Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields throwing a pass during a preseason game.

Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields throwing a pass during a preseason game.

Maddox Greenberg, Staff Writer

After Monday Night’s preseason matchup between the 0-2 Jacksonville Jaguars and the 1-1 New Orleans Saints, football fans are counting the days up to the regular season kickoff between the hometown (and defending Super Bowl champs) Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys.  While most roster spots are set, there is still some competition to be named starter, including in the quarterback room.

After the Saints winning 23-21 home against this years No. 1 overall draft prospect quarterback Trevor Lawrence and his Jaguars, fans are pretty certain that former Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston won the starting job.  This was the Saints first home game without quarterback Drew Brees, who retired last offseason.  Backups Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill have been alternating starts the past two preseason games.  While Hill showed some promise on a 21-yard toss to wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Hill did struggle, going 11-for-20 and sacked two times for a total of 14 yards.  Winston, however, trying to have a second chance in New Orleans after being the only quarterback to throw 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions, threw 9-for-10 for 123 yards and scored two touchdowns.  It’s safe to say that New Orleans may have found its starter in a Brees-less season.  Saints said they may have found its starter but didn’t mention who. We will see this Saturday as the Arizona Cardinals (1-1) face New Orleans in both teams’ preseason finales.

The Patriots are also having their own quarterback battle with 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton, who was on the 2015 15-1 Carolina Panthers Super Bowl roster, and rookie Mac Jones from Alabama.  The Patriots were eliminated and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.  Not only that, but last season was the first season the Patriots played without Tom Brady since they drafted him from Michigan with the 199th overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft.  Over the two games the Patriots played in preseason, Cam Newton and Mac Jones have been neck-to-neck in stats.  In the first preseason game vs Washington, Newton was 4-for-7 and threw 49 total pass yards with no touchdowns nor interceptions, and Mac Jones was 13-for-19 and threw 87 yards with no touchdowns nor interceptions.  In the second preseason game at Philadelphia, Newton was 8-for-9 for 103 yards with a touchdown, and Jones was 13-for-19 for 146 yards, however, no touchdowns nor interceptions.  Recently, this past Monday, quarterback Cam Newton was suspended five days for a “misunderstanding” with the COVID-19 protocol, giving Mac Jones an opportunity to start in the Patriots home opener against divisional rival Miami Dolphins in the NFL regular season Week 1.  For more on the developing story with Cam Newton, go to the ESPN app or search www.espn.com.  To see how Mac Jones will do, find out on Sunday at 6 p.m. as Patriots finish the preseason at New York versus the Giants on the NFL Network.

Finally, the Bears.  Even though it is known that Bears free agent signee Andy Dalton will start Week 1 at Los Angeles versus the Rams, fans are speculating that former Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields could get the starting job soon enough. The Bears organization is widely known to have never find its franchise quarterback since Jim McMahon in 1982-1988.  But this year could be the year.  Fields is in a quarterback room (for a rookie) with former Super Bowl champion Nick Foles and former Bengal Andy Dalton.  During the Dolphins and Bills preseason matchups, Fields was combined 23-for-39 for 212 yards and one touchdown and zero interceptions.  With a few worrisome hits and scrambles, Fields has become a huge Bears fan favorite. Could he possibly be the savior to all Bears fans and be like Jim McMahon, who took the Bears to their only Super Bowl victory?  Tune in on Saturday at 7 p.m. on NFL Network in the Bears preseason finale as they go to Tennessee to face the Titans.

This NFL season has got fans excited.  This is the NFL’s biggest season in history with 18 weeks (17 games for each team + one bye week) compared to 17 weeks (16 games for each team + one bye week).  Some teams are returning with their full rosters, and some have Super Bowl Sunday in sights.  And while some teams are having quarterback spots to fill, hopefully they will find their guy and reach the playoffs.  Hey, if the Browns could do it, why can’t these teams?