Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

19 Apr 2015

RSP Film Room: QB Coach on Mariota

Session Notes:

  • Why Mariota would best fit with a team using an Aaron Rodgers development timeline.
  • Why Tom Brady is an example of a task-oriented quarterback.
  • Mariota comps: Robert Griffin? Colin Kaepernick? Alex Smith?
  • Mariota’s skill at seeing the field: Where it’s a positive and when it can be a negative.
  • How Mariota’s throwing motion, a “lift-and-pull-down” method, generates high-low inaccuracies.
  • When a narrow base is problematic for a passer.
  • Examples of Mariota displaying excellent control to reset and throw after maneuvering the pocket.
  • Why the NFL’s approach to young quarterbacks is like driving a new race car on a track without learning the ins and outs of it first.
  • Will and I discovering that we both have Brett Hundley ranked ahead of Mariota.
    Leadership discussion with quarterbacks.

Of course, there’s much more in this hour-long episode with Mariota’s performance against Ohio State. See for yourself.

Posted by: Matt Waldman on 19 Apr 2015

44 comments, Last at 25 Jan 2017, 6:11am by Mediacore

Comments

1
by mehllageman56 :: Sun, 04/19/2015 - 4:47pm

Enjoyed the episode, and I agree with both of you that quarterbacks need to be given more time to develop, as Aaron Rodgers was. Matt, I think you are wrong about how often a premier caliber quarterback becomes available to another team. Brett Farve forced a trade, which only happened because the Packers had Rodgers. Carson Palmer did force a trade by sitting out half a season, and to be honest, was not much of a benefit to the Raiders at all. Both Peyton Manning and Drew Brees were allowed by their former teams to leave because of nasty injuries suffered by them, and also because they had already drafted or were going to draft good prospects at the position. That's four really good veteran quarterbacks changing teams in the last seven years, and two of those teams got almost no benefit from the trade. Your hypothetical team would probably be better off drafting Mariota early, and then sitting him on the bench behind a Fitzpatrick or Hoyer for a year or two.

2
by chemical burn :: Sun, 04/19/2015 - 5:52pm

Yeah, we're discussing it sorta on the other thread, but any of those teams who started a rookie QB in 2014 would be wise to take Mariota - as a team you WANT to be forced to make a Favre/Rodgers, Rivers/Manning decision and you're setting yourself up for the much more likely scenario of having a Matt Flynn/Russell Wilson situation. Even an RGIII/Kirk Cousins scenario is not a horrible thing, where both have showed promise as well as significant downside. QB's are so valuable, you should stockpile them until you hit pay dirt, having too many assets at QB is absolutely NOT a problem. Worthwhile QB's are rare and even a mediocre QB can draw a lot of attention on the market and be flipped for significant return (hello, Sam Bradford!)

Taking Mariota should be a no-brainer for the Browns or Rams and I think the Titans, Raiders, Jaguars and Jets should definitely all consider themselves in the market. Of the teams drafting in the Top 10, only the Falcons and Giants should definitely, definitely pass on him. After that, I think you have to get down to the Steelers at 22nd before taking Mariota becomes and out-and-out bad idea. Even then, Roethlisberger's age could be a factor in two years and viola, it's Favre/Rodgers all over again.

In fact, I think that there are several teams not seen as being in the market for Mariota like the Saints, 49er's and Bears who would be very wise to get in the mix for him. All three aren't on the verge of competing for a Superbowl and look like rebuilding is necessary - it's not like they'd be better served for their rebuilt future by taking a CB or T instead...

3
by Snack Flag :: Sun, 04/19/2015 - 7:15pm

This is impractical for all but a few coaches, though. Not many owners have enough patience to keep rolling dice until a jackpot is hit. How many short-term assets can you have sitting on the bench? You're saying the Browns should take Mariota - that means that two of their last first round picks will contribute nothing next season. Can Farmer or Pettine really expect to keep their jobs because they haven't gotten "lucky" enough with a quarterback?

I'm not saying it's rational - ideally, owners would have an eye toward the long-term and hire coaches/GMs that they trust. That is not the reality, however. For guys like Whisenhunt and Pettine and Bradley, it does make sense, from a job security standpoint, to draft a Leonard Williams or a Dante Fowler and try to win games on defense. Those are picks that, athletically, could contribute from day one and help improve your team. A young QB prospect on the bench will not do that. Even if the QB does amount to something (and there's a smaller % chance he will compared to other positions), he'll probably do so for the next coach.

4
by LionInAZ :: Sun, 04/19/2015 - 9:13pm

It's not as if what the Browns have been doing has succeeded.

5
by Snack Flag :: Sun, 04/19/2015 - 9:19pm

I get that this post is in jest, but it ignores my larger point. You cannot expect Pettine/Farmer to punt another first round pick after Haslam fired Chudzinski/Lombardi after a year. Even if Bill Belichick was the head coach, this team would be a nightmare because Haslam is a garbage owner.

6
by Snack Flag :: Sun, 04/19/2015 - 9:19pm

Double post

28
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7
by chemical burn :: Sun, 04/19/2015 - 11:25pm

I agree with you about why it generally won't happen, but I also think that it's better to come in and be like Pete Carroll and stake your career on that kind of decision. Almost everyone, myself included, thought that taking Wilson in the 3rd was a waste of a pick after the money they spent on bringing in Flynn (and even Tavaris Jackson.)

The question of what the Browns should do in this draft is more complicated because of their recent history of failure and mismanagement, specifically in the context of first round QB's, but I think a competent coach could sell their owner on the wisdom of not passing up Mariota if he falls to them and simultaneously not giving up on Manziel. In some ways, the Raiders would have the toughest time following this strategy because so much of their fan-base likes Carr...

Folwer and Williams are less likely to turn the 29th and 20th ranked defenses (by DVOA) into something strong enough that you can win on alone. For the Browns, hanging around there at 11th with an excellent pass defense and horrible run d, someone to immediately help with their inability to stop the run makes more sense, but again, a great QB is just so much more valuable (and offense DVOA so much more consistent from year to year) that taking Marietta really, truly is the best course of action...

Now that all said, if they really like one of the dues projected to go in the 2nd round, that is also a reasonable strategy...

8
by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 04/20/2015 - 12:37am

Williams would immediately improve their run defense. Shelton would as well, but he's a more limited prospect. As far as Fowler, I have my doubts that he's a better prospect than Mariota, much less Williams, Beasley, Cooper or Gregory for that matter.

9
by Snack Flag :: Mon, 04/20/2015 - 11:22am

You're pointing out two very different strategies. Taking mid-round flyers on QBs, as the Seahawks did Wilson, is much different than spending 1st round pick after 1st round pick until you hit on something. The Patriots have taken a mid-round qb every 3 years - Kevin O'Connell was a 3rd, Mallett was a 3rd, Garappolo was a 2nd - and other teams have followed suit (Broncos taking Osweiler for example). These picks are less valuable, the risk is much lower, and it's basically found money if the player ends up being Russell Wilson.

The Seahawks did the opposite of the strategy you're advocating, which is how they ended up with Okung, Earl Thomas and Bruce Irvin. They also took James Carpenter, so going for the safe "non-qb" doesn't always work out, but, in general, first rounders are where teams find stars. Especially the top of the draft. Taking Mariota just because you're blindly throwing darts to find a QB is not the best course of action. Having two first-rounders sit on your bench is not a good idea, particularly if you're trying to keep your job. This is all ignoring whether Mariota is any good (signs point to probably not).

I realize the value of a quarterback. An average starter is rare. However, I think that a lot of people mistake "You need a good qb to win a super bowl" for "you need a good qb to win games." A lot of teams can go 9-7 with a good defense, running game and a shitty qb (looking at the Jets). For the Browns, Raiders, Jaguars, etc. that's a step forward. It's a lot easier to take that step if you have quality contributors at many positions. Focusing resources on one position, even if it's QB, would make any improvement very difficult.

10
by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 04/20/2015 - 1:52pm

The Jets went 8-8 and 9-7 with very poor rookie seasons from their quarterbacks, and went to 2 AFC championships with Sanchez. Pettine would know, he helped coach those defenses.

I would argue most of the signs with Mariota point to maybe. He's a better prospect than Hundley, even if Matt Waldman doesn't think so, simply because you don't get any WTF moments with him (check out Hundley's pick sixes against Utah and USC). The problem is that he's going to be picked too high and therefore rushed onto the field, when whoever picks him should treat him the way the Bengals handled Carson Palmer. The Bengals have been a model of organizational consistency, keeping Marvin Lewis through thick and thin, unlike the Browns and the Raiders. I doubt the Browns have the patience, but the Raiders may actually be starting to think more long term. The Jets would not be the worst place for Mariota to land, except that their fanbase is massively impatient. Gailey's system is closer to Oregon's than anybody's except for the Eagles, and he could sit behind Geno and Fitz his first year. But he's probably going to be drafted earlier than 6, to a team less set up for his success.

11
by chemical burn :: Mon, 04/20/2015 - 10:25pm

It goes without saying that if a team doesn't think Mariota is good, they shouldn't take him.

Anyhoo, I totally disagree that getting to 9-7 is useful - you can find plenty of teams that "improve" to to that 7-9 to 9-7 range for a year or two and then get their coach fired anyway. I'm not saying you need a QB to win a Superbowl, but I do think it's very, very tough without at least an Eli Manning/Joe Flacco level QB talent and in the past decade teams have found guys that good lower than the first round maybe twice (Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick.) And, as pointed out to kick off this thread, trading for a QB on that level is a rare event and almost always comes under strange circumstances.

Getting Russell Wilson in the third is winning the lottery - not the best way to build for your future. There are no QB's in the past decade as good as Wilson available in the third round. Zero. Certainly, there are QB's like Foles, Dalton and Matt Schaub available in the second and third round and I wouldn't be averse to the idea that Geno Smith and Derrick Carr might be on that level. You might notice, though, that Foles, Dalton and Schaub have a combined zero playoff wins between them. In general, you've got it exactly wrong: "taking a flyer" on a 3rd round to lower QB is tossing a pick in the trash - it almost never works out, unlike literally every single other position on the field, where you can find dozens of success stories from every single round.

That all said, I think mortgaging your draft to trade up for a QB is a bad idea, but if they like Mariota and he falls to down the board, teams like the Raiders and even Giants (because Eli won't be around forever) should be looking to take him. No team would ever say "I'm really happy we passed on Aaron Rodgers - it allowed us to get to 9-7 that one time!"

12
by Snack Flag :: Tue, 04/21/2015 - 1:08am

Ask a Raiders or a Jags fan if they'd like to go 9-7 this year. Ask their front offices, whose jobs are on the line, if they would like to go 9-7 this year. Sports are not binary. This attitude of "win a super bowl or your season was a waste of time" is the case for very few teams each year. Every team picking in the top ten would love a .500 season next year. Mariota sitting on the bench will not let them achieve that.

You're more likely to pick a JP Losman or Kyle Boller late in the first round than an Aaron Rodgers. Your point was that teams should throw 1st round pick after 1st round pick at the qb position until they hit gold and that's just not a reality-based solution. A team doing that could hypothetically end up with Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow on their depth chart. All first round picks, all demonstrably worse than Foles, Schaub and Dalton.

13
by chemical burn :: Tue, 04/21/2015 - 11:12am

Yes, you ARE more likely to pick Boller or Losman late in the first round than Rodgers, which is exactly my point: even slightly viable QB's are very rare.

Also, the goal is not to "win a SuperBowl or go home" to build a winning team. Having a competent QB is the single most crucial ingredient for building a consistent winner. And I'm not saying that fans wouldn't be happy to have the false hope of a 9-7 season - winning slightly is more fun than losing constantly, but the question is about how to build a successful team and a couple 7-9 or 9-7 type seasons then going back to misery doesn't count. Just ask the Bills.

If consistently going as close to 8-8 as possible with a decent defense and no QB were the goal, then the Dolphins would be the greatest franchise in the league. Instead, they're acknowledged to be basically as hopeless a franchise as the Bills or Browns, in their own special way. Certainly, you won't find any of their fans clamoring to go 9-7.

And this is my point: the strategy you're proposing (i.e. what every mediocre team in the league does) when successful leads to teams like the Dolphins, Rams, and Texans. Solid defense, several strong pieces on offense, utterly hopeless teams. The best-case scenario for those kind of teams isn't really the 2002 Bucs, it's the 2008-2013 Jets, a half dozen years where you finish at .500 mixed in with a single somewhat promising year followed by a total collapse.

If you stick with Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith, you're not building a better team smartly, you're wasting the good team you built - do you think the Jets would have been worse off after the mediocre 2011 season passing on Quintin Coples and moving up to take Ryan Tannenhill or using a 2nd rounder on Russell Wilson or Nick Foles? They didn't even consider it, though, because of their "investment" in Sanchez and the "promise" he showed in the playoffs in 2009 & 2010. Kepping Sanchez around WASTED the team Ryan built, taking Coples wasted the good defense, not moving on at QB got Rex fired.

14
by Snack Flag :: Tue, 04/21/2015 - 1:28pm

Your fantasyland is fascinating, but it's completely dependent on hindsight and not a real strategy.

In your scenario, Baltimore is disappointed with Joe Flacco after a middling rookie season, and wastes asset after asset looking for a different qb because that's the easiest way to build a consistent winner. They ignore other positions and probably don't win the super bowl two years ago.

You could play that game with other teams. The Giants - because Eli sucked early in his career. I doubt GB knew Aaron Rodgers would be THIS good when he was on the bench. Same with San Francisco with Kaepernick. Has Stafford been so good that Detroit shouldn't keep throwing picks away on 1st round qbs? Should Minnesota grab a qb? Bridgewater was just okay last year. Since he wasn't a top qb, they have NO CHANCE at building a consistent winner and should waste more resources on the position. Same with Miami - Tannehill just has not been impressive enough. And even though the Bengals keep making the playoffs, they aren't doing enough with Dalton, so instead of improving the pass rush or O-Line, they should use another pick on a qb.

The Jets made it to two AFC championship games with Mark Sanchez. Yeah, fine, they didn't win a Super Bowl, but they were close to it. That's not a wasted opportunity. It's making the most of your hand. Not everyone can have a top tier QB - for some reason, you think the opposite is true and that the have-nots should lie down until they get one. That's ridiculous. People play the sport to win games and you can do that multiple ways. Maybe you can't win 14 without a Tom Brady level QB, but you can definitely win 10. That's something Browns fans would love to see.

Also, Russell Wilson would not be Russell Wilson if the Seahawks didn't surround him with an awesome defense and interesting weapons. If he were on the Jaguars, we would not hold him in such high regard because he'd be surrounded by shit. Same with early career Brady, same with early career Romo, same with literally anyone. Surrounding your qb with high-quality players is just as essential as getting a high-quality qb. You do that by drafting good players when they're available, not pissing away picks on random first-round qbs because they're a rare commodity.

Keep in mind, this also ignores the mental development of a quarterback. How many reps can go around in practice? Who starts what game? How can anyone develop timing with their receivers? Media pressure? These players aren't Madden avatars with a series of attribute scores. They're young human beings who need to learn how to play in the league.

15
by Led :: Tue, 04/21/2015 - 1:47pm

The Dolphins kind of undermine your case, no? Tannehill is widely regarded as a quality QB and the best non-Wilson young QB. Yet he's not good enough without a solid roster around him. And the roster is weak in part because in consecutive years they wasted second round picks on Pat White, Chad Henne, and John Beck! So does a team have to keep picking a QB until they get spectacularly lucky with an Elite QB (TM) that can carry a mediocre roster made up of later round picks and free agents? Because that's what you're saying. For every Wilson-in-the-rough there's a heaping pile of Pat White and Chad Henne and John Beck (and Kellen Clemens and Brian Brohm, etc.), who do nothing for your team.

I wonder, what's the median QB taken in picks 11 through 100 over the years -- Kordell Stewart?

18
by Snack Flag :: Tue, 04/21/2015 - 5:08pm

I don't believe they do. My point is not "don't ever spend a first round pick on a qb." Absolutely take your guy if he's there. But then develop him. Fill your roster with other contributors. Same would be true if he was picked in any other round.

Chemical Burn is saying that Miami should take Mariota this year (if he's still available at that pick) because Tannehill hasn't shown that he can get the team over the hump and into the Super Bowl. Mariota may have the potential to do so. I think this would be unwise because: Tannehill is still developing, Tannehill has never been surrounded with great talent (Mike Wallace with an OL made out of cheesecloth doesn't make a ton of sense), and clearly Steven Ross wants to win in the near term.

Now, I don't really agree with Miami's moves because they're going to be screwed by the cap in a few years, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that they find a way to win 11 this year and scrape their way through a weak AFC far into the playoffs. To me, it makes more sense to pick a guy like Devante Parker or whoever to give Tannehill the best chance to lead them.

Obviously, this is all player dependent. And I think that CB is throwing the problems of shitty teams all onto the QBs, which isn't acknowledging the larger issues with these teams. The Jaguars aren't in the position they are now just because they haven't found a QB. They suck because they used a 2nd round pick on a punter, selected Justin Blackmon at 4, Tyson Alualu at 10, and a laundry list of other mind-boggling mess ups. The Browns used a #3 pick on Trent Richardson and then picked a 29 year old Chris Weinke clone as a follow up pick. The Rams have built their D Line really well, but have thrown picks away on raw WRs, put them in an awful system, and have never been able to put together a working OL. No QB is going to overcome that kind of disfunction.

20
by Led :: Tue, 04/21/2015 - 6:25pm

My comment was in response to Chemical Burn.

21
by Snack Flag :: Tue, 04/21/2015 - 6:48pm

Haha - my bad. Apologies.

22
by Led :: Tue, 04/21/2015 - 6:50pm

No probs. I was a little confused at first, but then I realized some wires got crossed.

25
by chemical burn :: Wed, 04/22/2015 - 1:18am

Miami should absolutely take mariota. Tannenhill has only been mediocre - if he makes an improvement in 2015, then you're set at QB and have mariota to trade or injury/contract insurance. If tannenhill's development is ambiguous, then you have mariota to press for the startng job. If tannenhill stinks them mariota can get his shot to be good, if both fail to develop then quintin coples or some o-lineman aren't going to get you past 9-7. If both are good, them it's rivers and brees in SD. The positives of inveSting heavily at QB far outweigh the negatives. You can keep your joe thomases and Sheldon Richardsons, you need at least flacco or kaepernick to compete.

But you are right: iif you want to build the Miami dolphins, sticking for half a decade with tannenhill is the way to go. With a little luck with carr, the raiders are right on track to follow in this glorious 8-8 footsteps.

16
by tuluse :: Tue, 04/21/2015 - 2:00pm

"do you think the Jets would have been worse off after the mediocre 2011 season passing on Quintin Coples and moving up to take Ryan Tannenhill or using a 2nd rounder on Russell Wilson or Nick Foles?"

They would have been better in those specific situations, but what if they drafted Weedon or Osweiler instead? Even Griffin who had 1 great year would look pretty bad right now.

You're sort of ignoring the downside and QBs bust more than most positions, and 2012 was a pretty incredible draft for QBs (I bet 31 teams are kicking themselves for not drafting Cousins).

23
by chemical burn :: Wed, 04/22/2015 - 1:05am

This is my point though: you're unlikely to hit at QB, so you've got to keep diversifying your investment at the position.

27
by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 04/23/2015 - 3:22am

According to Terry Bradway, he argued in the Jets war room to draft Wilson with their second round pick. Perhaps he's lying, but Rex Ryan didn't want Stephen Hill either, so maybe there's some truth to it.

By the way, Rex wasn't fired because he couldn't replace Sanchez, he was fired because his team was 4-12. If you look at Geno's stats last year, they were better than most of Sanchez' years in New York. Rex was fired because his GM didn't feel like hiring competent cornerbacks, and they got torched by an onslaught of elite quarterbacks: Rodgers, Rivers, Peyton Manning, Rothlisberger, Brady twice, and then second or third level guys like Cutler and Stafford. Granted they also lost to a Bills team employing Kyle Orton by a total of something like 435-2, but last year was not entirely Geno's fault. Anyway, they did draft a guy early, and he definitely got Tannenbaum fired even if Rex survived him.

17
by Alex51 :: Tue, 04/21/2015 - 4:17pm

A team doing that could hypothetically end up with Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow on their depth chart.

You just had to rub it in, didn't you?

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by Snack Flag :: Tue, 04/21/2015 - 5:08pm

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by chemical burn :: Wed, 04/22/2015 - 1:06am

No you're right, the eagles are all set. No need for them to take a QB for at least several years! And the raiders: they're in great shape at QB. Same for the jets for the past half decade! And the browns just invested in manziel - time to build the defense! . You're absolutely right: these teams have it figured out at QB!

26
by Snack Flag :: Wed, 04/22/2015 - 1:57am

It's much easier to debate straw men. Keep on defeating points no one is making. You're doing great!

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