Mac ******* Jones and the NFL's struggle with quarterback strategy

longhorn clayton

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Mar 31, 2019
1,160
3,563
0
I definitely think that the NFL draft places way too much emphasis sometimes on physical gifts. Like you said, Patrick Mahomes' physical gifts are out of this world, and helps him immensely. The ability to have a cannon of an arm and threaten the entire field with pinpoint accuracy all while throwing on the run and dropping dimes fading away is undoubtedly insanely attractive


But the cerebral aspect is king, as well as intangibles. Some guys are elite leaders that work insanely hard and are so competitive they're going to do anything in their power to help their team on the whole win, and elevate those around them to a higher level to get the job done. These are the things that made Tom Brady the GOAT. You could look to Peyton Manning who did a similar thing at Indy without being able to run a better 40 than his offensive lineman.

Being able to throw like Pat Mahomes and run like Lamar Jackson definitely helps, but teams get too caught up in these things and overvalue quarterbacks. Not too long ago Mitchell Trubisky was taken over Mahomes and Watson at #3 because "muhhh prototype brain go brrrrrrrrrr"

I literally don't know about Justin Fields. I've seen many people post threads/videos about him going through progressions and being able to read defenses, and then have seen other people do the exact opposite, and since I don't have time to sit through and break down a ton of film I don't know. I do suspect some poor pocket presence is a part of it; but it's also about what he CAN become. He only started for two seasons, and as you said his measurables and athleticism are very attractive.

But people saying it's a debate between QB1 are ridiculous. It's clearly Trevor Lawrence. I see a lot of posts of people trying to qualify Fields over him, spouting off statistics about accuracy and how easy the Clemson offense is that it is just easy pickings for Trevor on screens and play action that it somehow takes away from his stock (hello Deshaun Watson).

Seems like it's largely difficult for us fans to really gauge QBs. We can watch the film, but it's hard to tell how dedicated a guy is and how smart a guy is and how great of a leader he is on and off the field and whether or not he's doing all the little things that translate into success at the next level. I've got no clue if Justin Fields is that guy - a guy who only started two seasons but is developing and is putting in the work to be great and understands the game at a deep level, or if he'll always struggle with pocket presence/processing. I think it's kind of a shot in the dark evaluating QBs for outsiders like us on this board, but honestly in general. About half of all first round QBs are busts. Nobody thought Mahomes would be what he is, and as a Texans fan nobody thought Watson would be what he was (pre masseuse scandal).

That being said I feel as solid about Lawrence as any QB prospect since my HS alma mater Andrew Luck that he will at least be really solid in the pros. Outside of him, I am not sold on Fields or Wilson being good/great NFL QBs, let alone Mac Jones or Trey Lance. It all feels like a shot in the dark to me tbh. Think SF with Mac or Justin would be a lot of fun though.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ian Boyd

biodogtexas

Member
Nov 22, 2020
19
47
0
I agree with pretty much everything you said, but I am curious on whether or not you're including JT O'Sullivan in that category of QB evaluators not to trust (the QB School guy, long time NFL veteran).

Not a coach or assistant, but I do listen to a lot of coaching podcasts and videos because I love learning more about the game and the consensus from pretty much everyone on the coaching side is that JT does a phenomenal job breaking down both concepts and techniques.

Obviously commenting on specific reads and progressions is very system dependent, but from what I've seen he does a really good job of acknowledging that while still breaking things down. Would be curious as to your thoughts on that.
To be more specific, my issue with them isn't their knowledge of the game or their analysis or anything like that. It's like this. Suppose a team is running a completely run-of-the-mill 4 verticals with 11 personnel. There is a common way of running this play against all the standard defenses, where typically, the coverage you see pre-snap will determine your reads, etc. But what if you have Calvin Johnson or Randy Moss on a scrub on one side and Deion sanders lined up on the other side of the field from them? Do you still run it the same way as everyone else or do you just chuck it up to Johnson or Moss no matter what and let him go make a play? What if you run 4 Verts on 4th down with the sole purpose of hitting the running back on a flare or wheel matched up on a slow linebacker to pick up the yards you need? They're both the same play but they're run very differently.

Most of these guys evaluate are evaluating quarterback based on what conventional wisdom would dictate is the most typical way that play would be run in that situation. But you can't fairly evaluate a player based on what you think he might have been trying to do. The only fair way to evaluate a guy is to judge how well he executed what he was coached to do, and very rarely do guys ever know what that was. They certainly can be right some of the time, but you can't know how often. It's not that you shouldn't trust them, it's that you need to understand their credibility comes with an inherent caveat. If a guy is well-respected and widely trusted then he probably is so for a reason, but don't take it as gospel. Every QB ever drafted highly has been so for a reason, they looked good on film, but they've been wrong more often than they've been right.
 
Last edited:

biodogtexas

Member
Nov 22, 2020
19
47
0
I mean, Cam Newton won an MVP and started in a Super Bowl. I think if whoever drafts Justin Fields gets that out of him, they'll be more than pleased.
Cam Newton has also only had 3 winning seasons in his 10-year career. His career record is 78-67-1 (+11 over .500) which includes a 17-2 season, without which he has a career losing record. I'd hope teams would have higher expectations for a top 5 QB than 1 great season and 9 years of mediocrity. But, the point wasn't that Cam Newton was a bad QB or was never successful, it's that he never developed into a prolific highly-skilled passer that saw sustained success in the NFL like people think Justin Fileds can become.

There's no question that Fields can be successful in the NFL. Just look at Lamar Jackson, Vince Young, Donovan McNabb, or Cam Newton like you mentioned, or even guys like Trent Dilfer, Garropolo, or Goff. Like any QB with his level of talent, or even with some QBs with far worse physical tools than Fields has, you can be successful when a team builds around your skillset to feature your strengths and hide your weaknesses.

The issue is that people seem to think that Fields could easily fit into the mold of guys like Rogers, Mahomes, Manning, Brees, Brady, Roethlisberger, or even guys lesser guys like Romo, Eli, or Rivers. People thinking he can play at the highest level in that way is just wishful thinking. He can be plenty successful in the league without being that kind of QB.
 

stilesbbq

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Oct 2, 2019
5,965
28,802
0
Cam Newton has also only had 3 winning seasons in his 10-year career. His career record is 78-67-1 (+11 over .500) which includes a 17-2 season, without which he has a career losing record. I'd hope teams would have higher expectations for a top 5 QB than 1 great season and 9 years of mediocrity. But, the point wasn't that Cam Newton was a bad QB or was never successful, it's that he never developed into a prolific highly-skilled passer that saw sustained success in the NFL like people think Justin Fileds can become.

There's no question that Fields can be successful in the NFL. Just look at Lamar Jackson, Vince Young, Donovan McNabb, or Cam Newton like you mentioned, or even guys like Trent Dilfer, Garropolo, or Goff. Like any QB with his level of talent, or even with some QBs with far worse physical tools than Fields has, you can be successful when a team builds around your skillset to feature your strengths and hide your weaknesses.

The issue is that people seem to think that Fields could easily fit into the mold of guys like Rogers, Mahomes, Manning, Brees, Brady, Roethlisberger, or even guys lesser guys like Romo, Eli, or Rivers. People thinking he can play at the highest level in that way is just wishful thinking. He can be plenty successful in the league without being that kind of QB.
On the team Cam Newton dragged to the SB....

-Greg Olsen, Ted Ginn and Jericho Cotchery led the team in receiving yards
-Jonathan Stewart and Cam lead the team in rushing with Cam only 300 yards behind Stewart in rushing yards, while running for a higher YPC
-Of the Panthers 53 TDs in 2015, Cam accounted for 45 of them

Cam was really good in Carolina for about 7 years he was a top tenish QB there. The fact they didnt win a SB reflects more the franchises inability to surround him with good offensive talent until injuries had already torn apart his back and shoulder. Being conservative, of the QBs drafted in the first round over the last 15 years, 80% of them have worse outcomes than Cam. If drafting Cam in the first round is a disappointment to you, then well you're pretty much always gonna be disappointed

Also Lamar, VY, McNabb Newton all have exceedingly different play styles which I guess just shows there are plenty of ways to skin a cat in today's NFL
 

biodogtexas

Member
Nov 22, 2020
19
47
0
On the team Cam Newton dragged to the SB....

-Greg Olsen, Ted Ginn and Jericho Cotchery led the team in receiving yards
-Jonathan Stewart and Cam lead the team in rushing with Cam only 300 yards behind Stewart in rushing yards, while running for a higher YPC
-Of the Panthers 53 TDs in 2015, Cam accounted for 45 of them

Cam was really good in Carolina for about 7 years he was a top tenish QB there. The fact they didnt win a SB reflects more the franchises inability to surround him with good offensive talent until injuries had already torn apart his back and shoulder. Being conservative, of the QBs drafted in the first round over the last 15 years, 80% of them have worse outcomes than Cam. If drafting Cam in the first round is a disappointment to you, then well you're pretty much always gonna be disappointed

Also Lamar, VY, McNabb Newton all have exceedingly different play styles which I guess just shows there are plenty of ways to skin a cat in today's NFL
It's almost like you didn't actually read my answer because it sounds like you agree with everything I said.
 
  • Like
Reactions: stilesbbq

panther52

Member Who Talks
Oct 9, 2016
259
677
0
Awesome post, awesome comments. I so appreciate this site.

Anyone up for analysis of Joe Burrow, who was the top take last year? Comparisons v. the top names this year? Anything useful to observe out of first (partial) NFL season? Perspective would be interesting.
 
  • Like
Reactions: longhornpark

longhorn clayton

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Mar 31, 2019
1,160
3,563
0
On the team Cam Newton dragged to the SB....

-Greg Olsen, Ted Ginn and Jericho Cotchery led the team in receiving yards
-Jonathan Stewart and Cam lead the team in rushing with Cam only 300 yards behind Stewart in rushing yards, while running for a higher YPC
-Of the Panthers 53 TDs in 2015, Cam accounted for 45 of them

Cam was really good in Carolina for about 7 years he was a top tenish QB there. The fact they didnt win a SB reflects more the franchises inability to surround him with good offensive talent until injuries had already torn apart his back and shoulder. Being conservative, of the QBs drafted in the first round over the last 15 years, 80% of them have worse outcomes than Cam. If drafting Cam in the first round is a disappointment to you, then well you're pretty much always gonna be disappointed

Also Lamar, VY, McNabb Newton all have exceedingly different play styles which I guess just shows there are plenty of ways to skin a cat in today's NFL
That 2015 Broncos defense was something serious man... And I wish Cam got drafted somewhere worth a lick. Imagine prime Cam on the current Panthers roster with CMC and some better weapons and coaching. I used to call the the Carolina Camthers. They had him and nothing else. Was great fun to watch but always a bummer when players don’t win much because they get drafted into a bad spot
 

kevinbelt

Member Who Talks
Oct 15, 2020
110
207
0
Yeah, that last part is pretty important. It’s one thing to find the next Mahomes; it’s another to stick him in a Jeff Fisher offense. Not to take anything away from Mahomes, I love him, but part of the reason he’s Patrick Mahomes NFL MVP and Super Bowl champion instead of Patrick Mahomes physically gifted prospect is that he went to KC with Andy Reid, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, et al. If he got drafted by the Jets or the pre-Baker Mayfield Browns, the conversation about, say, Zach Wilson would be much different.

That’s why this SF pick is so highly anticipated. Of all the high-drafting teams, Kyle Shanahan is probably the least likely to ruin a QB. Whoever they end up picking may not turn out to be a superstar, but probably won’t be a bust, either.
 
  • Like
Reactions: dmatx and stilesbbq

melodicmarc

Member
Aug 17, 2020
51
80
0
No, what's actually happening is that you're putting words in his mouth and projecting onto him the narrative you think is out there. Ian never said he couldn't make reads or couldn't make it through a progression. What he did say was "we don't have much film of a guy with a knack for getting through progressions or having solutions when defenses took away his ability to chuck it down the field to his favorite guys". 10 posts in you still haven't actually shown any evidence to the contrary.

A read is when you identify the coverage and decide if a receiver is open to throw to or not. A progression is what happens when you go through multiple reads on a play until you find someone who is open. You've shown clips of Fields making a few good reads, but nothing that shows him consistently getting to his 3rd or 4th option. That's mostly because the Ohio State offense with him doesn't have 3rd or 4th options. The first clip you posted, doesn't show a progression. In that play, Fields is just looking off the safety as I imagine he was coached to do, reads the deep post, and then makes a great throw. The question Ian was posing was what would Fields have then done if Olave wasn't open and he couldn't throw that ball. The answer is that we don't really know since he almost always made the throw. I'm pretty sure the Mark Schofield and the other videos you posted doesn't actually show him ever getting past a 2nd read or more than one half of the field.

You should never put a lot of stock into what the "amateur" or "professional" QB evaluators say they see on film. Previously, I was a student assistant in College work primarily with video and I despise these guys for a couple of reasons. The biggest reason is that they operate under the almost entirely false assumption that offense is standardized and that they have correctly identified what the play was. Even though people might be running the same routes out of the same formations, no one has any idea what the guys were actually coached to do. It's a total crapshoot. Was the QB reading a vertical route to the field or was he just looking that direction to move or freeze the safety before chucking it deep to the other side of the field to your fastest player as was the plan all along? It's basically impossible to tell. In a pivot/dig combination, is he reading the pivot before separately reading the dig or is he just reading the single defender in a hi-lo to see which is open? No one but the QB and coach knows. The internet evaluators sure as hell don't know.

The same things people are saying about Justin Fields are the same things people were saying about Vince Young. They're the same things people said about Robert Griffin III, and Cam Newton, Marcus Mariota, Lamar Jackson, and Tua Tagavailoa. It's the same thing as Jamarcus Russell, Tim Tebow, Jake Locker, Geno Smith, Johnny Manziel. They all found success in college with the same formula that Fields has, that is, to summarize Ian, "an effective running game with quarterback run reads paired with play-action passing to highly talented deep threat receivers and then an empty passing game which could create simple reads outside and falling back on the QB scrambling ability. That's extremely difficult to defend because the Qb's arm strength could stretch the defense out beyond the hash marks while leaving the middle of the field devoid of linebackers and numbers in a surefire way to get killed by scrambling.", and none of them translated to long term success in the NFL.

When people question a QBs ability to consistently go through progressions, they're almost always right. Since '98 when Peyton was drafted, more than 280 QBs have been drafted and dozens if not hundreds more have signed. How many have been great NFL progression passers? Less than 20? You're talking about 5% or less of guys who get to the NFL and are great progression passers. Chances are Justin Fields, especially with his skill set, isn't one of them.
You brought up a good point in your original post about why was I getting so "heated online" or something to that effect. I think in the end you were right so I am not going to continue the discussion because I don't have the time for it. Everyone has an opinion on him and that's fine. I apologize if I misrepresented some of your arguments @Ian Boyd and you both bring up good points. In the end I am going to trust Mark Schofield and Klassen's opinion on this because they devote a lot of their time towards evaluating qbs, but I understand your concerns with them.
 
  • Like
Reactions: biodogtexas

Ian Boyd

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
23,632
82,878
0
Ypsilanti, MI
You brought up a good point in your original post about why was I getting so "heated online" or something to that effect. I think in the end you were right so I am not going to continue the discussion because I don't have the time for it. Everyone has an opinion on him and that's fine. I apologize if I misrepresented some of your arguments @Ian Boyd and you both bring up good points. In the end I am going to trust Mark Schofield and Klassen's opinion on this because they devote a lot of their time towards evaluating qbs, but I understand your concerns with them.
No offense here, my point is more about the uncertainty of these younger guys and what I feel is truly valuable in this game which is the mental side.

Fields may become a brilliant passer some day, but it's mostly projection and it's surely down the line. If I'm trading multiple 1st round picks I want a sure thing, and a sure thing is a savvy QB who's shown it at the NFL level playing in a good system with good teammates.
 
  • Like
Reactions: stilesbbq

melodicmarc

Member
Aug 17, 2020
51
80
0
No offense here, my point is more about the uncertainty of these younger guys and what I feel is truly valuable in this game which is the mental side.

Fields may become a brilliant passer some day, but it's mostly projection and it's surely down the line. If I'm trading multiple 1st round picks I want a sure thing, and a sure thing is a savvy QB who's shown it at the NFL level playing in a good system with good teammates.
I think on a macro level, moving through progressions and the mental side of quarterbacks is going to keep decreasing as play callers try and simplify the game for their QBs. I would still take Fields over Jones though because I believe we are seeing Jones playing at his ceiling level, vs. Fields who has a lot of potential to grow. I would be drafting QBs with potential in mind more than anything, because in the end it will always be a gamble. Most guys won't work out. But sometimes you are a winner and find a Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes, and usually the thing that separates those guys from the rest is some freakish talent that puts them above the rest.
 
  • Like
Reactions: stilesbbq

kevinbelt

Member Who Talks
Oct 15, 2020
110
207
0
I think on a macro level, moving through progressions and the mental side of quarterbacks is going to keep decreasing as play callers try and simplify the game for their QBs. I would still take Fields over Jones though because I believe we are seeing Jones playing at his ceiling level, vs. Fields who has a lot of potential to grow. I would be drafting QBs with potential in mind more than anything, because in the end it will always be a gamble. Most guys won't work out. But sometimes you are a winner and find a Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes, and usually the thing that separates those guys from the rest is some freakish talent that puts them above the rest.
Disagree. The whole history of the game is more and more reads. Cutting edge offense now is RPOs and tags, which are just pre-snap reads. The reason nobody runs the triple option anymore is because every pass play with five receivers and a QB run threat is a sextuple option. Even better, you can arrange those options in nearly infinite combinations, as opposed to the standard FB dive/QB keep/RB pitch of the triple. Even the simplest run offense, the Alex Gibbs inside-outside zone, still has three reads (bang/bounce/bend) for the RB, plus a QB keeper and whatever RPOs and tags you want to add on.

The way to simplify the offense is to have guys like Chris Olave or Devonta Smith or Najee Harris - guys with a talent advantage to ensure the first read is either open or drawing a double team to open up the second read. Same as it ever was. But you’re never going to stop your progression there, because sooner or later (and in the NFL, it’ll probably be sooner) you’ll run into an opponent you don’t have a massive talent advantage over, and you’ll have to have something to do when they take away your first two reads.
 

biodogtexas

Member
Nov 22, 2020
19
47
0
You brought up a good point in your original post about why was I getting so "heated online" or something to that effect. I think in the end you were right so I am not going to continue the discussion because I don't have the time for it. Everyone has an opinion on him and that's fine. I apologize if I misrepresented some of your arguments @Ian Boyd and you both bring up good points. In the end I am going to trust Mark Schofield and Klassen's opinion on this because they devote a lot of their time towards evaluating qbs, but I understand your concerns with them.
The internet would be a much better place if more people were like this. If they've earned your trust then that's good; just be mindful of their limitations.
 
Last edited:

kevinbelt

Member Who Talks
Oct 15, 2020
110
207
0
Being familiar with the OSU offense, I’m pretty sure the first throw to Olave wasn’t a progression. I would wager that Olave was the first (only?) read on the play, and that the look in the other direction was a designed/coached up way of getting the safety to vacate the area where Olave ended up. The second throw to Ruckert may have been a read, not sure.
 

freeman

Member Who Talks (A Lot!)
Aug 11, 2014
6,992
5,189
0
Trevor Lawrence, same as most everyone else who isn't trying to be an edge lord.

You had to go 7 minutes into an 8 minute highlight video to find an example. And the question is "what happens if Chris Olave ISN'T running wide open on a post route in front of a clean pocket?"
What do you think of the BYU guy?