Quarterback pressures, why RG3 is more advanced than Andrew Luck!!!.
Robert Griffin III is more advanced at this stage as a quarterback because of his skill sets verse pressure and responds to pressure. I came to Cat Scratch Reader last year and talked about Newton because of his responds to pressure in college. And even more amazing is his responds to pressure in the pros leading all quarterbacks with the highest QBR in the NFL...think about that for a moment. A rookie leading all quarterbacks ..not just rookies!!!!! I talked about in length prior too the 2011 draft and many thought it was crazy talk. I must remind everyone that this is the most critical aspect of quarterbacking. IF a quarterbacks ability to throw a football was the most important then this guy would be the number one draft pick. It is 100% without a doubt a quarterbacks ability to deal with bodies and a crowded pocket that gives them the edge. I posted this on Mocking the Draft in a comment meant to defined reasons for quarterback failure or success in the NFL.
Disclaimer: For those ready to jump up and down proclaiming I am comparing Newton too Griffin please read on. As I am ONLY referencing pocket skills as I see them to be two different style players at this stage in development
Pocket skills Matrix
1. ignore bodies around you and staying on balance remaining composed and calm even in a quarterbacks body language while all heck is breaking lose around you.
2. step up in the pocket and slide in the pocket maintaining focus down field.
3. feel the rush and NOT look at the rush.
4. (bonus) have the ability to extend the play.
5. (bonus) have the ability to make plays with your legs.
Quarterback success/fail rate is directly related to the above "Pocket Skills Matrix"
These are failed to under achieving to good quarterbacks drafted in the first round since 2001 and what i saw as their issues or strengths after the snap from the pocket. This is only referencing pocket skills NOT what happens after the ball leaves their hands. Note the more issues they have the more tendency to be a bust. Note the less issues they have the better they tend to pan out as players. Again this is my opinion but some may find a lot of truth in this. Quarterback / had issues with (using pocket skills matrix above) I don’t consider fails with # 4 or 5 to be that big of a deal.. but failures in 1 2 or 3 to be critical and flat out no recovery from these weaknesses in order to be great. numbers indicate areas of weakness.
David Carr / 1 2 3 4 5
Joey Harrington / 1 3 4 5
Alex Smith / 1 3
Patrick Ramsey / 3 4 5
Carson Palmer / 3 4 5
Byron Leftwich / 3 4 5
Philip Rivers / 4 5
J.P. Losman / 1 3
Micheal Vick / 1
Vince Young / 1 2 3
JaMarcus Russell / 1 2 3 4 5
Brady Quinn / 1 3
Matt Ryan / 3 4 5
Joe Flacco / 3
/ 4 5
Mark Sanchez / 1 3 4
Josh Freeman / 3
Sam Bradford / 3 4
/ 2 3
Cam Newton /
Jake Locker / not enough snaps to evaluate
Blaine Gabbert / 1 2 3 4
Christian Ponder / 3
Again this is just pocket skills NOT any evaluation of reading a defense or projecting the football.
This is a theme that I am seeing that is without a doubt the defining reason for success or bust for a quarterback. And this is just me trying to express that. This concerns me because I see Andrew Luck as grading with 1 3. Again this is just my best shot at expressing what I am seeing and why I put so much emphasis on pocket skills and what happens between the snap and before the ball is even thrown. Griffin grades out as / 0 … some say he has happy feet because of that patty pat motion he does with his feet. But Peyton Manning does the same thing so just seems like a mannerism more than a responds or a some type of sign of panic.
I would note to everyone how Newton was sacked 23 times at Auburn. (As i noted last year at this time he dealt with pressure very well.) Andrew Luck was sacked 23 times in his career at Stanford. RG3 was sacked 79 times in his career. Yet Griffin makes less mistakes with the football while under a lot more pressure and throwing the ball 128 more career passing attempts than Luck…. 17 int for RG3 and 22 for Luck…. how is this possible? How can you throw less int while under more pressure with more volume of attempts too make mistakes on….? Everyone that is pretty descent at math think about that for a moment… RG3 under significantly MORE pressure yet makes less mistakes while throwing the ball more. And we aren’t talking about dinkin and dunking we are talking about a lot of down field high degree of difficulty throws by RG3.
Some will say because of the Nature of the spread offense that RG3 will have better stats. I challenge everyone to watch game film. Luck behind one of the best offensive lines in several years with 2 top 15 NFL draft prospects blocking for him in a run oriented style offense had more completely wide open receivers. Now this isn't a subjective analysis it is confirmed on film. (small sample for a gist of this point) Note how Andrew Luck has absolutely no one around him on most of his throws. Now consider how poor to average Luck has played verse rival Oregan vs marginal pressure... or USC part 1 and part2. Now I am not saying he can't be good verse pressure. But right now he is average verse pressure. And without a doubt the best quarterbacks in the NFL are special verse pressure. Just look at Eli Manning in the Super Bowl and his responds to pressure. Or look at Eli vs Matt Ryan see how pocket skills is what separates these two players
Some compare Griffin to Cam Newton
There where many stories detailing how Newtons stats improved while he was under pressure or while teams blitzed him in college. His completion % went to from 66% too 70% in those situations at Auburn. And there is even a story about his responds to pressure in the pros How he was number one in the NFL in total QBR vs pressure/blitz…. THINK about that for a moment… a rookie….number 1 in the LEAGUE vs pressure…no really let that sink in…………….. I talked about that over and over and over. And that drum is the one i am beating right now. That horse just isn’t dead enough because no one is talking about this undeniable trait that totally and complete dictates the success or failure rate of a quarterback!!!!!!
So i do believe RG3 could have a Cam Newton like Season production wise. But not as a runner. I think RG3 would have to go to Miami Seattle or if Cleveland spends money on free agent receivers in order for him to have that type of season. Because of his skill sets he is more likely to carry a team with less talent around him because he is more creative in the pocket to create chances in the passing game…something i think he is better at than Newton at this stage (if we are talking about both of them prior to a NFL snap) I don’t compare these players based on just about anything anyone in the media or blogs have done. I compare them on their pocket skills and in that department Cam Newton and Robert Griffin are similar and that too me is where it ends.
Who has the Biggest Adjustment Luck or Griffin?
It is my belief that Andrew Luck will infact have the bigger adjustment. Because pressure is what defines the difference between the pros and college. Never in the modern history of pro football has a quarterback failed and we look back and say the following….."if only he played under center"…. "if only he called his own plays in college"…. "if only he ran a pro style system".The reason why quarterbacks fail is because they can’t deal with the speed of a NFL pocket. The timing that is needed to get the ball out with a lot less time to throw and under more pressure from pass rushers. Some fail to adjust to how much time they have and the bodies in their face compared to college. David Carr didn't get shell shocked he simply did not have the skills in the pocket in order to attack down field. This is Drew Brees NUMBER 1 strength is how he moves and slides in the pocket and looks calm doing it even with impending hits coming. A trait Browns fans don't see from Colt McCoy. (fails in 1 2 and 3)....
Robert Griffin has had too deal with NFL pressure already in a sense. News flash, Baylor isn't that good and they didn't win the recruitment battles down South. Baylor got the left overs, only recruitment battle they lucked out on was RG3. Many fans look at his speed and accuracy. For me i am noting how special he is from the time the ball is snapped till the time it leaves his hands. And on that front he is a few years ahead of most rookies. Luck hasn’t been pressured in college at all. Playing behind a Offensive line that boosts 2 top 15 overall draft prospects in the upcoming 2012 draft. He has been really mistake prone verse pressure. Throwing interceptions in all of his last 6 games 2 of them for pick six in Stanford’s biggest games facing marginal pressure.… so what happens when that 23 career sacks turn into 35 sacks in one year behind a Colts OL? With a Colts team that doesn't have a identity in the run game. And a increased emphasis on a pass oriented scheme.... can you say (gulp)?
Pocket skills are instinctive. In most cases you either have it or you don't. You are either calm in the pocket or you aren't. Mark Sanchez is a perfect example of this..Tony Romo is a weird example of this. As Romo is outstanding evading pressure and making a play but horrible in the face of pressure.
I want to expand on this "instinctive" trait in reference to the Pocket Martin traits 1 and 3. This is like driving a car really. If you look away to tune your radio or turn on your heat while driving on the free way once your eyes meet the road again your vehicle will have traveled a significant distance pending on your speed. This is the DEFINING REASON why 1 and 3 on the pocket matrix are critical. If a quarterback takes his eyes off of receivers and developing patterns (eyes off of the road). That quarterback will have moments where they miss a receiver as they are breaking open. Or worse a defenders reaction is missed. All because of that quarterbacks eyes leaving his progressions just for that instant to look at pressure. This prevents a dynamic passing attack and defines Colt McCoys Struggles. Not because it has ANYTHING to do with his ability to throw a football. But because his eyes come off of the road
This is what leads me to believe the perception of "NFL ready quarterback" fuel for misevaluations. You hear the normal cliche football terms thrown around.
Myths that have been proven wrong but people still use them as talking points... Spread offense.... David Kingler and Andre Ware failed not because of the offense. But because they had lazy evaluations. These quarterbacks dink and dunked and screen passed their way to Heisman trophy wins. They just didn't make any NFL throws and didn't have the pocket skills to succeed. Since these two players history tells us there is absolutely in players from a system not working out.. it is lazy evaluations that miss on prospects that are annotated great and the evaluation of their skill sets stopped.... sound familiar?
Cliche criticism that never even factor into success or failures of a quarterback
- played in a spread
- did not take snaps from center
- ran a pro style offense
- calls plays at the line
- isn’t a athlete (because in our bizarro world of quarterback evaluations we think the ability to run equals that they will run. Just like if Payton Manning had 4.3 speed he would run all day instead of processing his reads)
I believe Andrew Luck will be a very good quarterback
Andrew Luck will be good because he makes good choices with the football. And is very smart and has been around the game building to play in the National stage. But don’t for a second believe any of that has to do with instincts. And instinctively in the pocket vs pressure he is suspect. The best quarterbacks in the NFL right now are all calm in the pocket and make good choices more times than not even with pressure. This is by far RG3 greatest asset too his game. A major reason why he could carry a team with less talent. Not because he can run really fast… but because he reacts calmly too people in his face and is acclimated to a crowded pocket and pressure in his face. He played at Baylor where often it looked like they had 4 offensive linemen blocking.(no offense Baylor Bear Nation)… Truth is RG3 will likely see less pressure playing behind Cleveland, Washington or Miami’s offensive line than he did at Baylor ( the school that averaged one conference win a year before RG3)
So too me if you remove all of the hype and dump your memory banks of who is hyped up and who isn’t. RG3 is the most NFL ready by a large margin because of his instincts in the pocket and ability to make the players around him better (now everyone thinks Baylor has a bunch of first round to mid round receiver prospects all because of the quarterback play). Luck had Ryan Welden(6th round pick 2011 for the Bengals) and Doug Baldwin a undrafted free agent(Seahawks leading receiver) But Luck didn’t make those guys stand out…. just saying there are patterns here that can’t be ignored. And the cliche "NFL ready" comments don’t even hold water considering the history of who is playing well in the League.
Three of the top 5 rookie quarterbacks all time all came from spread offenses.
Drew Brees also came from a spread. There is absolutely NOOO merit to the concept of a college quarterbacks "system" playing a role in success……. WHAT does play a role is what type of throws they making the instincts in the passing game.. ball placement..decision making...AND POCKET SKILLS!!!! The rest of these cliche factors people bring aren't even in the equation of why a quarterback fails or not
This history of the NFL's fear of spread quarterbacks
As the NFL’s fear of drafting spread quarterbacks stem from Andre Ware and David Klingler who ding and dunked their way to massive yardage totals in their run and shoot offenses. The NFL failed to look at their skill sets and in turn blamed their failed lazy evaluations of the spread offense. Instead of the NFL's fraud rudimentary methods of scouting a scheme that was new to college football. The Houston Cougar's massive points and yardage totals are the result pre run&shoot defensive philosophy.(in short no one had a clue how to defend Mouse Davis's offense for a few seasons)
Cam Newton is still struggling reading a defensive coverage scheme. But he is able to execute what he does know because he is unphased by bodies around him or blitzes or any type of pressure . His eyes aren't coming off the road he isn't looking at the rush he is feeling it and moving as his eyes remain down field. Just by the merit of his strong pocket skills he just looked like he knew what he was doing...even while he admitted at times he was clueless as to what was going on in coverage at times. Robert Griffin dealt with more pressure than Luck and Newton combined and threw the ball more than both yet where are the errors?.. where are the mistakes? It is based off of my evaluation of how they deal with pressure that i believe RG3 is more advanced and MORE NFL ready than Andrew Luck. And these traits will show when you play the Raven and the Steelers when pressure doesn’t impact your offense because your quarterback is use to bodies around him and pressure in his face….infact it could be a case where he sees less pressure in the pros than he did in college…. but then again Baylor didn’t all of a sudden win a bunch of recruitment battles to provide him some offensive linemen. They just won one recruitment battle >> RG3.
It is my belief that RG3's ability to respond under pressure and make decisions while pressured will be the difference. There will be plays made that other wise aren't there. Simply because he is more composed and has a identity when the pocket gets crowded... he has a identity within his skill set when pressure is incoming. And this is needed if you expect to have a dynamic in the passing game. Its the only thing i compare Newton and RG3... how they respond in the pocket and how they deal with pressure. This skill is absolutely a common theme between all of the really good quarterbacks in the NFL. Failure in this department is a common theme for every last bust at the position.
The running quarterback
Fact: out of Cam Newtons 126 rushes he scrambled only 49 times (scrambled defined as during a designed pass play quarterback tucks it and runs). Aaron Rodgers who played one less game than Cam Newton rushed 60 times in 2011... 58 of them on designed plass plays. So by that Logic Aaron Rodgers is more of a "run first quarterback" than Cam Newton.(under the context many use) And incase you think that is a fluke or a blip on the radar. Newton at Auburn only scambled 43 times in all of 2010's heisman season. Aaron Rodgers during his 2010 SuperBowl season scrambled 56 times out of 62 total rush attempts through 16 games. So I guess a "running quarterback" can win a Superbowl. Moral of the story is don't fall for media hype research yourself and don't by the ESPN hype machine.
This is the only major difference between Colt McCoy and RG3.
None bias opinion provided to you by a Lions fan (as I have no dog in this race in terms of who you draft. Just expressing what I have seen. This isn't a post about who you should draft or about trade value. I am attempting to bring more too this conversation because it is a very interesting one. This is a critically overlooked aspect of quarterbacking and quarterback evaluations. And how I believe RG3 is more NFL ready than MANY may believe. IMHO