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Showing posts with label quarterbacking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label quarterbacking. Show all posts

Monday, August 10, 2009

Drew Brees is scary accurate

So when I started watching this, which is one of those hokey Sports Science comparisons between a pro athlete and some rather arbitrary metric, I thought there was no way that Drew Brees was more accurate than a world-class archer. Well, I was very, very wrong. Watch below. (Brees's throwing picks up at about the 4:10 mark.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fran Tarkenton on quarterbacking

Click the image to enlarge it.

Courtesy of Bill Mountjoy.

Monday, April 27, 2009

OK St.'s Gunter Brewer on four verticals and the seam-reader

Heard an anecdote relayed from Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator (good coach, entertaining speaker). He was talking about the four verticals concept, which I and Dan Gonzalez recently explored in depth.

As Dan explained, the key to this whole concept is the "seam-reader" -- the slot receiver who reads the deep coverage and can run a post, seam, or square-in. And as I explained, even if you don't give that player a full panoply of options, at minimum you tell one slot guy to read middle of the field open (two deep safeties) or closed (one deep): against middle of the field open the guy splits the safeties to streak down the middle void; against middle of the field closed the receiver stays up the hash to put the free safety in a bind between the two slot players.

In Okie State's terminology, they call this player the "beater." One thing Dan and I didn't talk much about was how do you decide which guy you want to be the "beater" or "divide route" -- the "get open" guy.

The first diagram shows it with the slot:

And the second shows it with the tight-end here (it could also just be the other slot):

So how do you choose who you want running it? Typically, as Dan draws it up, he likes his best receiver to line up in the slot and to drill that down. You also can do it just to the field: if the ball is on one hashmark you can have the receiver to the wide side run it because he has more freedom.

Brewer addressed this question, and talked about that for him it is often a matter of personnel. Specifically, if you get in three-wide gun (as Okie State often is), the defense often subs in a nickel defensive back for a linebacker. But the problem there is that the defensive back is better than the linebacker: he doesn't go for all the fakes and moves that the seam-reader or "beater" player uses to get open.

To illustrate what they did he told an interesting anecdote. Brewer used to be an assistant and offensive coordinator at Marshall back in the Bob Pruett days, where he coached Chad Pennington (and some guy named Randy Moss). They decided to run the "beater" to the side where the linebacker was and away from the nickel back.

But the problem was that the other teams would often shift this. Fortunately, Pennington was a pretty bright guy, so they let him determine who was going to be the beater pre-snap.

And how did they communicate it? Pennington would get to the line, turn to the side where the linebacker was and not the nickel defender (and hence the also the slot he wanted to run the "beater"), and would just clap in that general direction. Everyone knew what it meant, and off they went.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Jeff Tedford on teaching quarterbacks

From the AFM:

"So much of the game is the mental part, being prepared scheme-wise, and understanding the game, and understanding the concepts, so they understand on every play where to throw the football," Tedford says. "It's not memorizing; you find a lot of times that kids will memorize, but they have to understand the whole concept, and the whole field. There's a purpose for everything we do with every position, and they need to understand what that purpose is."


As he teaches understanding of the playbook, Tedford begins by drawing diagrams with pencil and paper. From that, he'll move on to the checkers. Across a table from his quarterback, Tedford arranges 11 checkers in a defensive formation, against the quarterback's offense and asks the quarterback to show what's happening - what's the formation, what's the pre-snap read, what's the play call, what are the possibilities out of the formation, what are the protections, what are the routes? "I'll make them say the snap count, the whole thing, and what happened," Tedford says.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Gary Crowton (Louisiana State) on

Briefly, notes from Crowton (I think back from his Louisiana State days) on what he tells his quarterback's to look for before the snap.

(1) Scan the coverage. Is it man or zone coverage? Are there two safeties,
one safety, or no safeties?

(2) Check the perimeter and the edges of the box. How will I be protected?
Will I be protected?

(3) Point to the "hot" defender away from the protection call. You are
identifying the defender that must come to create a "hot" throw away from the
call side. This is vital if you do not have a built in "hot" receiver to handle
a 4th rusher backside.

Another common method (popular with the Airraid types) is to integrate the number of safeties into the snap count. I.e. "Go! 2! 2! Set, Hut!" This way the QB has to look.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

More thoughts on pro scouts' anger at "system quarterbacks"

Dr Saturday follows up on the weird storyline of trying to get Tim Tebow "NFL Ready" (by doing more under center, etc) even though he is still the quarterback for the defending National Champion Florida Gators who has excelled in a shotgun offense. In other words: what are they doing?

Maybe it is hype, maybe it is real. But at some level it (either the reality or the hype) is driven by the very real fact that NFL scouts now seem to spend the time from the end of bowl season until the draft railing against "spread" and "system" quarterbacks. When pressed to explain this, they proffer ridiculous reasons like the fatal flaw that spread quarterbacks can't take snaps under center and perform traditional drops. (Mike Leach remained unimpressed.) But no matter what the form, the consensus among NFL scouts seems to be the same: "system" quarterbacks (most notably "spread offense" quarterbacks) are bad.

But what are they talking about? Don't they have at least a bit of a point, considering that some college QBs put up huge stats and then are never heard of again? Let's take a step back.

NFL scouting is, of course, very difficult. Scouts must evaluate a player in one environment (college, certain workouts) and extrapolate how that will work in the NFL. In other sports -- most notably baseball -- there's been great strides in taking a player's high school or college numbers (most reliably with college) and getting a decent picture of how good a pro they will be. And this is huge: scouts do not have to solely rely on gestalt impressions like "well, he looks like a ballplayer"; they have at least some degree of certainty.

NFL scouts are not so lucky: many positions -- most notably lineman -- produce very few statistics, and what statistics players produce, whether pancake blocks or touchdown catches, are heavily dependent on the other players on the field. So it's really difficult to turn football data into something meaningful.

Yet, for a time at least, quarterback statistics at least seemed to indicate what talent lay within. A guy couldn't have a great TD-INT ratio or throw for a set number of yards without knowing the game. Or could he? In the late '80s and early '90s some West Coast Offense and Run and Shoot QBs came out of college with huge stats, only to fail miserably in the NFL. They weren't the first QBs to fail, but they had come out with such pedigree -- look at their stats!

So the term "system quarterback" became a slur, roughly translating to: "He who throws for lots of yards and touchdowns in college but will be crap in the NFL."

College coaches -- like Leach -- bristle at the very idea. And it's hard to argue with that: is Leach supposed to apologize for the fact that some guy named BJ Symons threw for nearly 6000 yards and the next year someone else named Sonny Cumbie who threw for 4,700 and then yet another fifth-year senior named Cody Hodges with another 4300? I mean, he throws the ball a lot and would like to win games; it's not to have his guys perform at a level exactly commensurate with their talent to ensure that they don't send any fake signals to NFL scouts.

But, to an extent, I sympathize with NFL scouts. Stats used to at least mean something. But when 45 touchdown passes could equally mean Arena League second-stringer as it could NFL starter, scouts are left again with not a lot more than: "well, he looks like a ballplayer." It's not a very scientific way to pick players, and it's hard.

And in the hyperbolic pre-draft world (Mel Kiper on Percy Harvin: "He’s not that big, and he’s taken a lot of hits. But his explosiveness after the run is explosive.") this confusion injected by good coaches who squeeze talent out of their shotgun operating signal callers arises something like resentment and at minimum a lot of skepticism.

It sounds like I'm giving NFL scouts a break here. And I kind of am: there's not a lot for them to go on. But that doesn't change the fact that they are just guessing and most don't know what they are doing. In Malcolm Gladwell's "quarterback problem" article he sat down with an NFL scout who sat around drooling over Chase Daniel, who might not even get drafted. In baseball, when the Moneyball crowd came in, lots of old school scouts that had dominated for years were swept away like discredited mystics of some defunct religion. If football ever figures it out, the same thing will happen. The guys harping on somebody's "hips" as code or their size of their pinky toe will finally look as foolish as they sound. (Even if there is validity in some of these minor details the question remains what on earth someone could do with all of it to aggregate it into some kind of player ranking.)

So if I have to take sides, put me with the college coaches who aren't afraid to put their QBs in the shotgun and let them run with it and sling it; system moniker be damned. (And I would recommend the same to players considering where to go to school.) And my advice for (most) NFL scouts? Quit, or be fired: NFL drafting would probably be fine without any of this ridiculous minutiae and hyperbole.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tebow's new QB coach: Scott Loeffler

USA Today:

When it came time for Urban Meyer, head coach of the defending national champion Florida Gators, to offer some advice to his new quarterbacks coach on how to handle Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Tim Tebow, the message was pretty simple.

"Coach Meyer said just don't screw him up," Scot Loeffler said.

All well and good. But we know the real reason that Meyer brought in Loeffler: to help Tebow become more "NFL Ready." And Loeffler has some serious bona fides, including his years doing wonderful work with quarterbacks at the University of Michigan (like Chad Henne, Tom Brady, and Brian Griese), though his encore was spent this past season with the Detroit Lions just trying to teach his quarterbacks the simple things, like, you know, not running out of the back of the end zone for a safety to seal a loss.

As I have previously written, Tebow needed to put "becoming a better pro prospect" at the head of his "To Do" list. And many -- including Tebow in the USA Today piece -- cited Loeffler's hiring as a reason he came back. But I'm not so sure that this is the perfect marriage. I mean, I think for Florida Gator fans even a slightly confused or tinkered with Tebow is better than the next guy, but what about for Tebow?

Loeffler can definitely help in a few major areas: footwork (avoiding the famed and slightly ridiculous "spread quarterback" label); reading coverages; accuracy; and the ability to make a wider variety of throws than Florida asks him to. But again, as I said before, I'm not so sure that he wouldn't get all this and more actually in the pros. All he turns down is a set amount of money (but not a "fixed" amount because an increase in Tebow's draft stock is purely speculative), aside from of course, more college glory and the "college experience," which did not serve people like Matt Leinert all that well and Tebow has achieved all that is humanly possible in college.

And I still think it ignores a big drawback for Tebow: all the hits he takes. He essentially takes hits like a runningback does, and the studies are voluminous showing that runners deteriorate, not so much over the course of a season, but at some point in their careers.

So the real parties in interest, Florida and Urban Meyer, now must try to satisfy two masters: win games but also make Tebow more of a "pro-guy." Do you try to call fewer runs for him? Do you emphasize different points of the game? Do you take some of the (limited) time Loeffler gets to spend with him and dedicate that to pro-style stuff rather than the immediate gameplan?

Don't get me wrong, Tebow becoming a better dropback passer can only help Florida, and Loeffler is a very good coach and is a great addition no matter what. But for Florida's sake I hope they don't fixate on this too much, and for Tebow's sake I hope he isn't expecting more focus on his pro prospects than might be appropriate. Time will tell.

(Hat tip: Dr Saturday)