Quarterbacks are always in the spotlight. That is the nature of the most important position on the field. So in reality, every one of the 32 men who opens the 2009 season as a starting signal-caller will, of course, be under the spotlight.
That holds true for future Hall of Famers like Peyton Manning and even Ben Roethlisberger, who is coming off his second Super Bowl victory in his short career. No one is safe from it, and the best players at the position relish the stage and the opportunity to have such control of the outcome of every game in which they play.
This is a list of whom the microscope is most closely zoomed in on for 2009. The reason for the added attention comes in many forms and for many reasons, but how each of these respective quarterbacks deals with that added attention will be crucial to his team's success this season.height="48" align="left" border="0">
There isn't a better player in the league than Brady, but he is coming off a serious knee injury and must prove he is able to be the Brady all of us are accustomed to seeing. The pieces are in place for another New England championship run, but those hopes could die quickly if Brady isn't healthy.height="48" align="left" border="0">
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Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs
There were zero expectations on Cassel last season when he took over for a fallen Brady. That is no longer the case. In fact, Cassel is being counted on to lead a struggling football team back to the promised land, but without Wes Welker and Randy Moss to throw to.
Jason Campbell, Washington Redskins
The Redskins have been quite public about their desire to upgrade at quarterback, but as it stands right now, they are stuck with Campbell and he is stuck with them. Campbell isn't a great fit for Jim Zorn's offense and would be better off in more of a five- and seven-step drop attack that features more downfield passing. However, he is also a very hard worker, rarely turns the ball over and could be primed for a much-improved season.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
All the talking and drama surrounding Cutler is finally over. Now it is his turn to go out and produce. His talent is unmistakable, but the receiving supporting cast in Chicago is not what it was with the Broncos. Cutler has to prove to everyone that he truly is an elite quarterback who can elevate the play of those around him.
Jake Delhomme, Carolina Panthers
In a somewhat surprising move -- and one Carolina might end up regretting -- the Panthers extended Delhomme's contract even after a disastrous performance to finalize what was a very promising 2008 season. Not only did Delhomme struggle in Carolina's home playoff loss; he didn't finish the regular season strong, either. His best days might be behind him.