Abstract The quarterback position in football is the most important position on the field. His decisions usually mean the difference between winning and losing the game. Because of his importance, it becomes clear that you must have a unique skill set in order to master the position. By analyzing the different types of quarterbacks from pocket passers, to rollout quarterbacks, to scramblers, it becomes clear that there are different ways to play the position, and that ultimately any of the three can become successful.
Keywords: quarterback, scrambler, rollout, pocket passer In football, the quarterback is by far the most important player in the game. Besides the center, no other player gets to touch the ball on every single play. They impact wins and losses, and receive the lion’s share of the credit or blame based on how the team performs. There isn’t a right or wrong way to play the quarterback position; there are several different types of quarterbacks that can get the job done, albeit in very different ways.
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Coaches and scouts make their money analyzing and classifying quarterbacks based on the way they run an offense, many times designing their game plan according to their quarterbacks strengths and weaknesses. When observing a quarterback, there are several things you can look for to determine the way they most effectively play the game. Nearly every quarterback in the NFL plays the game either as a pocket passer, a rollout type quarterback, or a scrambler, and their effectiveness can be attributed to how well they fit the particular skillset and the type of offense they run.
The pocket passer is the most popular, and usually the most effective of the bunch. Quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees fit this mold. They tend to hang around in the pocket and keep their eyes downfield at all times. This type of quarterback can make all the throws and usually relies on quick slants to keep the defense from blitzing. Bubble screens and outside runs also help to keep the defense honest. This seems to be the way of the new age quarterback in the NFL.
This is because it keeps the entire field in view and allows the quarterback to be able to throw to the receiver on either side of the field, as well as the slot receiver and tight ends up the middle. To combat this, many defenses run zone coverage, keeping their linebackers in the middle of the field to protect the inside routes, while the corners play the short outside routes and the safeties protect against the deep ball. The rollout quarterback has made a big comeback as of late. Quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, and Matt Ryan fit this mold.
These quarterbacks are like a fusion pocket passer/scrambler, because they have traits of each type of quarterback, but they use their skill set in a different way. Rollout quarterbacks are hard to pressure, because they do not stay in the pocket and when chased out of the pocket are surprisingly mobile. They often rely on the deep pass, and by rolling out they give their receiver time to get down the field. They, like the pocket passer, also rely on quick slants to keep the defense from over committing to the blitz and usually have a good running game to also combat the extra attackers.
These quarterbacks are especially dangerous because they can beat you in so many different ways. If you drop too many guys into coverage, they will simply run towards the sidelines for a first down and beat you that way. If you bring too many guys on a blitz, they will burn you downfield. The weakness of this type of attack is that it usually divides the field, because it becomes difficult and dangerous to throw to the opposite side of the field when rolling out. The scrambler is a relatively new type of quarterback; however I feel like this is the quarterback of the future.
Examples of scrambling quarterbacks include Michael Vick, Cam Newton, and Tim Tebow. These quarterbacks are usually very big and athletic, and they are usually some of the fastest guys on the field. Their playbook usually consists of a mixture of quarterback runs, running back runs, as well as passing plays like screens and button hooks, with the occasional deep throw to keep the safeties from overcommitting to the run. This is becoming a new trend in the NFL, and it is very exciting to see, because it adds such a new dimension to pro-style offense.
Depending on the quarterback’s skillset, this becomes a nearly impossible offense to defend against unless the quarterback cannot complete the deep ball. If this is the case, most defenses will bring the safeties up and overcommit to the run. They will take their chances that the quarterback gets lucky and completes a deep ball, and will often assign one or two players to “spy” the quarterback, watching his every move and following him around the field. The NFL quarterback position has evolved immensely throughout the years.
From the old days of simple running plays, to the invention of the forward pass, to the age of 5000 yard passers, the NFL has seen quite a transition throughout its history. This can be attributed primarily to the skill set of the Quarterback. By classifying a quarterback as a pocket passer, a rollout quarterback, or a scrambler, defenses can better understand how to defend against particular formations, and that can ultimately lead to overcoming their particular skillset and winning the game.