As the Cleveland Browns fully realize, finding a quality starting quarterback is growing increasingly difficult.
The Wall Street Journal explored the vanishing franchise quarterback in an article published this afternoon. Written by Kevin Clark, the piece examines the failure of college programs to prepare quarterbacks for the NFL. Clark consults a wide variety of football minds in this must-read article.
Two of the sources consulted were Browns head coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer.
In his first quote, Pettine spoke about how difficult finding the right quarterback has become:
... But if current trends continue, NFL insiders say, quarterbacks who have the sophistication to outfox NFL defenses to deliver the ball to open receivers are "going to be on the endangered species list," said Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine. "The quarterback may not be gone yet," he added, "but if you have one, protect it."
In his second quote, Pettine shared his fear that the development time for quarterbacks might increase significantly:
... NFL officials agree that the new wave of quarterbacks will need more time than previous generations, but some fret that today’s roster limits and time constraints may prevent them from getting the time they need to learn or develop. "It might become like major league baseball now, where you take a guy that you think will be able to play in three, four, five years," said Pettine.
Farmer proposed an idea that might have some merit: Design your offense around those college quarterbacks from non-Pro style offenses.
... Cleveland’s Farmer has one idea: What if you could design an offense to minimize the passing deficiencies of modern quarterback prospects? Farmer used the example of Auburn’s Nick Marshall, who threw 20 touchdowns last season but was projected to transition to defensive back in the NFL. What if, Farmer said, you devoted resources to designing an offense where Marshall could thrive? He would cost you almost nothing—Marshall went undrafted—and "you might get your franchise quarterback in the later rounds, and that’s unheard of these days."
"Whoever cracks this code the soonest is going to have a huge, huge advantage," Farmer said, adding he and his coach, Pettine, have had broad discussions on the topic.
Pettine and Farmer both bring up interesting points. The lack of great quarterbacks coming out of college football is disconcerting.
What do you think? Should teams adopt a long-term strategy for quarterbacks and begin designing offenses around them? Let your opinion be heard in the comments section below.