Some more spread quarterback thoughts

One of my commenters yesterday mentioned Oklahoma’s offense yesterday, and in doing a little Internet digging on the subject, I came across this draft analysis of Sam Bradford that I thought was worth sharing.

First, on the issue of mechanics and footwork, the author reiterates some of the points that Tom Luginbill made:

… Most of the passes in the Sooner playbook are out of the shotgun formation. That brings us to perhaps the biggest concern that GMs have about not only Bradford but almost all of the college spread formation quarterbacks—what about his footwork? The QB is under center for nearly all plays in the NFL.

Traditionally, shotgun or spread offense rookie QBs struggle with the 3, 5 and 7 step drops fundamental to the NFL passing game. Many high pick shotgun/spread formation QBs have failed. Nearly always their downfall has been due to footwork/accuracy problems. It is nearly impossible to have NFL level accuracy by a quarterback that lacks consistent footwork. The passing windows are microscopic compared to those in college even in good conferences. Timing of the throw is critical and timing is determined by footwork.

But there’s another point he raises that’s noteworthy.

A second and nearly equally significant concern is the ability of Bradford to make pre-snap reads. An NFL quarterback must be able to read the defense before the snap to determine if the play needs to be changed or not. The Oklahoma system involves the team looking to the sideline to get the play. The reading of the D is done by the coaching staff in the booth, relayed to the sideline and given to the QB.

In the NFL, the QB must make the reads. Is the opponent going to blitz? Are they in zone, man or a combination coverage? Each of these possibilities requires different patterns and play calls. Many of the Big 12 QBs have never been responsible for making those reads. The problem is made more significant by the multiple defenses the NFL uses. While he had NFL quality receivers, they were not facing NFL quality defensive backs. These guys are bigger, faster, smarter, and hit a lot harder than any college conference defenses.

There’s an interesting lab experiment coming up in the NFL.  Look at what Ryan and Flacco did this past season.  Compare them to how Stafford and Sanchez handle the game this year.  And then next year, see how Tebow, McCoy and Bradford – three quarterbacks likely to be the top rated group, all out of spread/shotgun attacks – adjust to the pro game.  Or, if HeismanPundit’s on to something, how the pro game adjusts to them.



Filed under College Football, Strategery And Mechanics

5 responses to “Some more spread quarterback thoughts

  1. digidy dawg

    I understand what’s being said about spread QB’s in the NFL, but how do you explain the ones from UGA that don’t make it? Georgia runs more of the pro style offense which you would think would have these guys more suited for NFL play. Stafford had to read the defense & had the liberty of calling an audible on most plays. The only one I can remember that was successful in the pro’s is Tarkington. It would first lead me to believe that it might be a learning curve, but Zier, & Green were smart QB’s that had all the measurables & physical tools. The only thing about pro style vs. spread that I’ve noticed when it comes to the NFL is a pro style will more likely get drafted higher. Stafford was the first pick vs. Graham Harrell of Texas Tech. went undrafted, but Pat White did go in the second round. It’ll be interesting next year when we see who gets drafted where with a QB heavy class (MCcoy, Tebot 1000, Bradford). All are in a little different system of the same thing. Also, do you think UGA will start to adapt more of a spread formation in the future?


  2. Brad Blasiar

    I would argue that while Green had the intelligence, he didn’t have the athleticism. THe opposite argument is the one made against spread qb’s: they have the talent, but not the intelligence (by which I don’t mean not smart, but training, experience in reads, and all the other stuff the Senator said).

    Stafford is a pretty good fit for this argument for that reason: while it would have been better had he stayed and learned the system/perfected his footwork, he was calling a pretty high percentage of the plays from the line, plays involving the footwork described in the article. Definitely oughta be interesting to see what happens.

    And as a Saints fan, I really hope they put Stafford in at the end of the game for a series when Detroit comes to town to open the regular season.


  3. JP

    I don’t think that we’ll see the NFL give up on the “traditional” QB any time soon, but, given the cyclical nature of offensive football (see Miami, running 30’s-style single wing packages last season) I wouldn’t be surprised to see the NFL adapt to the slew of spread QBs that are headed its way.

    Wether or not Georgia will produce NFL caliber QB’s under Richt remains to be seen. We have only seen three QB’s (Shockley, Joe T, and Stafford) that Richt recruited complete their careers here and two of those are in the NFL. By the time Murray and Mett graduate (or leave) we will have a much clearer picture of the kind of QBs Richt is producing.


  4. Coastal Dawg

    I read in the paper this morning the Scroggins kid from California committed to USC over FL and UT. Not a big surprise, but his comment, “I like a pro-style offense, and that’s what they (USC) run,” was telling.


  5. Kerwin4two

    Flacco operated primarily out of the shotgun in college (I know Shotgun does not equal spread). But I think the formation doesn’t mean nearly as much as accuracy, pocket awareness and decision making. I think that Tebow has NFL starter quality pocket awareness, not sure about accuracy though he throws a very good deep ball. The decision making ability will be the toughest thing for NFL scouts to judge. He rarely gets to his third read since he can always just pick up 3 or more yard on the ground.

    As for Bradford, his accuracy is the best I’ve seen in the college game in quite some time. But alot of that had to do with the great protection he received. He had all day.