nfl quarterbacks

How To Build An NFL Team

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Over the past decade, NFL executives and analysts have been pushing the notion that quarterback is the most critical position on the field. In fact, NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks stated that quarterbacks are ” not only the team’s biggest decision maker… which team lands in the winner’s circle at the end of the season”. As a result of this mentality, most organizations will repeatedly invest money, and draft picks into the position until they find the right one.

However, when an organization invests in the position, they expect the quarterback to be ready to play and become the focal point of the offense within a short amount of time. This is because ownership will put pressure on the coaching staff to play quarterback within the first year in an attempt to show the public that they made the right decision. Due to this, the team would call a lot of passing plays to give him a chance to demonstrate that he is a franchise quarterback and is capable of making all the necessary throws to lead the team to victory. While it is reasonable to expect an organization to give their new investment many opportunities to prove themselves at a certain point, it will affect the performance of the rest of the team. For instance, if Allen gets the chance to throw a lot, the offense will spend less time on the field because of incompletions, interceptions or sacks that result in short drives. As a result, the defense would have to go back on the field without the proper amount of rest which leads to the unit being more susceptible to giving up yards and points. Since they would be unable regain some energy between possessions to be able to stop the opposing offense.

A perfect example of this is how the role of Kirk Cousins within the offense changed after the Washington Redskins applied the franchise tag in 2016. Throughout the 2015 season, the Washington Redskins decided to implement an offensive system that was centered around the running game and the play-action passing game. For instance, during the first two downs of a series, Kirk Cousins would hand the ball off to Alfred Morris or Matt Jones in an attempt to force the opposing team to stack the box and set up a manageable third down. If the strategy was successful, the Redskins called a play action pass where Kirk would fake the handoff and go in the opposite direction to throw the ball to the flat or the crossing route fifteen yards downfield. However, on occasion, Kirk would fake the handoff to freeze the defense momentarily that allowed the receivers to get some separation as they try to complete a slant, in or out route. As a result of this, the Redskins offense was able to stay on the field for a more extended period, which means that the opposing team had less time to feast on their defense. In fact, according to teamrankings.com, the Redskins offense was on the field for an average of “31:29” thus the defense was only on the field for 28:31. Due to this philosophy, the Washington Redskins won the NFC East with a 9-7 record.

However, it was an entirely different story over the next two seasons because the team made wholesale changes to the offensive system. This is because the organization wanted to see if he could lead the team to victory while being the focal point of the offense before giving him a big contract. As a result, the Redskins went from a run-heavy offense to more of a passing offense to evaluate his decision making; and ability to make all the throws without having the running game to preoccupy the defense. For instance, the Redskins dialed back on the play action bootlegs where he would fake the handoff to the running backs and roll out in the opposite direction to hit the wide open receiver. In place of the conservative offense, they decided to call the traditional three to five step drop passing plays to gauge whether Cousins can make the right decision with the football when the defense is ready for a pass. For instance, Kirk would take a 3 to 5 step drop from under center and proceed to throw the ball to a receiver on a curl, crossing and corner routes as well as screens.

Although it is reasonable to expect a team to give their potential investment many opportunities to prove that he deserves a long-term commitment at a certain point, it will affect the performance of the rest of the team. Since the team had Kirk Cousins throw the ball a lot, the offense spent less time on the field because of incompletions, interceptions, sacks or big plays that result in short drives. As a result, the defense went back on the field without the proper amount of rest which led the defense to be more susceptible to giving up yards and points. Since they would be unable regain some energy between possessions to be able to stop the opposing offense. In fact, according to teamrankings.com, the Redskins offense was on the field for an average of “29:36” thus the defense was on the field for 31:24. Unfortunately, over these two years, the team compiled a record of 15-16 with one tie, and they failed to make the playoffs.

On the other hand, if these NFL executives and analysts started to emphasize the importance of the running back position, teams would have more success. This is because a good running back makes the game easier for the rest of the team. For instance, throughout the 2016 season the Dallas Cowboys decided to implement an offensive system that was centered around the running game and the play-action passing game. During the first two downs of a series, Dak Prescott would hand the ball off to Ezekiel Elliott in an attempt to force the opposing team to stack the box and set up a manageable third down. If the strategy was successful, the Cowboys called a play action pass where Dak would fake the handoff and go in the opposite direction to throw the ball to the flat or the crossing route fifteen yards downfield. However, on occasion, Dak would fake the handoff to freeze the defense momentarily which allowed the receivers to get some separation as they try to complete a slant, in or out route. As a result of this, the Cowboys offense was able to stay on the field for a more extended period which means that the opposing team had less time to feast on their defense. In fact, according to teamrankings.com, the Cowboys offense was on the field for an average of “31:23” thus the defense was only on the field for 28:37. Due to this philosophy, the Dallas Cowboys  won the NFC East with a 13-3 record.

 

 

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