Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

18 Apr 2006

FO on FOX: Beyond Size and Speed

This thread is going to be a general discussion for all of the articles in our Beyond Size and Speed series over at FOXSports.com:

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 18 Apr 2006

86 comments, Last at 02 May 2006, 10:33pm by cjfarls

Comments

1
by perrin (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 12:07am

Ah, the sweet sensation of learning. Nice work, Mike.

I think the question of whether it's easier to coach athleticism or position-based fundamentals is interesting (particularly around draft time). Any idea which, historically, has proven more accurate with offensive linemen?

Common wisdom seems to be that it's fine to pick eventual top-flight lineman late in the draft, which isn't usually true for, say, quarterbacks. If this is legitimate, do you know if late-drafted linemen have a tendency to have good fundamentals over sheer size and strength (or vice versa)?

2
by Teximu (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 2:57am

I agree; good stuff!

#1:

I bet it's a mix of both. The guys drafted late are obviously going to have some kind of mark against them, be it poor technique or lack of bulk. I can think of an example of each that has managed to thrive in the NFL.

1) Stephen Neal, undrafted NCAA champion wrestler and non-football player turned Patriots' starting offensive lineman. Big, strong guy who needed some technique coaching before he could play.

2) Hank 'Honeybuns' Fraley, undrafted, slightly undersized, decidedly non-athletic-specimen center from Robert Morris University. Definitely not the strongest guy on the field, but Fraley started for the Eagles for five(?) years and made a living on intelligence (adjusting line calls, etc.) and technique.

3
by b_stillers (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 3:38am

Nice work. Not sure if your average Fox reader can appreciate this type of content, but as long as you keep linking to FO, you'll have many thankful readers. I'd love to see follow-up articles on specific offensive line techniques (like pulling centers, pass protecting tackles, etc.)

Again, keep up the good work.

4
by Sam B (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 5:31am

Yep, that was really interesting, thanks. Looking forward to the rest of the series - catching? intelligence? getting off blocks?

5
by Moses (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 6:10am

This was a good article. Many of the concepts apply to to a lot of positions. Corners & halfbacks & WRs need to keep short steps so they can cut better, QBs so they can drop better and time their reads. And what applies for o-linemen has it's corollaries in d-linemen and linebackers.

Anyway, it was a great article.

6
by Ruben (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 8:01am

Great article, Mike. I appreciate off-season football writing that details more than company-funded trips to Orlando and Tales from the Coffee Crypt. Is there a plan for FO to continue writing content throughout the offseason?

7
by someone (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 8:17am

Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous article, I think I almost had an orgasm. All the usual cliches about offensive line play - I think the only one missed was Houck's move your feet and you can't be beat - followed by some extracts from the Joe Namath How To Play Football book from 1985 on drop steps etc.

Lets see you break down the play of a top OT in terms of footwork and sound like you know what you're talking about, instead of short paragraphs that stay bland as hell. This article taught me nothing.

8
by DWL (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 8:50am

#7, you're a putz...and a coward

9
by Theo (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 9:06am

Hm. It's a nice try for the casual fan, but if you write about linemen and their technique, you can't exclude the way linemen use their hands.

It's still better than the - he is 6ft5 350 pounds so he must be good - articles.

10
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 9:19am

Why can't you exclude talk about how they use their hands in an article about footwork? I don't think this was supposed to be an exhausive dissertation about lineman technique, just a pointer about things that get overlooked and aren't often discussed. For lineman, footwork may be the most easily observable yet least talked about.

One thing I've learned: you know it's a good article when 'someone' shows up and starts bitching.

It's been a long time since I've given this guy any thought, but wasn't poor footwork the biggest knock on Tony Mandarich (the Darko of the NFL)? He was drafted high because of impressive physical stature, but that didn't mean jack in the NFL, and years of coasting on ability instead of learning proper technique doomed him. I could be wrong, like I say it's been a long time since I've given him any thought...

11
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 9:51am

I consider time spent reading a football article to be well spent if either the article interested me or tuaght me something. This article did both.

I'm gald FOX is giving you guys a venue to write more detailed and educational articles for the general public. All too many football fans out there just think line play is about a bunch of guys shoving a bunch of other guys around, and that anyone could do it as long as they're big.

12
by croaka (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 10:05am

#7, you imply that Mike Tanier is false and/or misleading because he uses ''all the usual cliches''. I don't know much about OL footwork, and Mike's descriptions seem quite informative and non-bland to me. For example, are you saying that it is actually wrong for a lineman to point his toes directly at the target rather than slightly outward? Or did you just want everyone to know that you knew all this already?

13
by TGT (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 10:20am

I thought that was a wonderful article. I've heard/read breakdowns of pass rushers moves, but never have I seen anything useful about how offensive linemen respond or prepare against those moves. Whenever an offensive linemen holds back a defender, it's because he has superior strength or superior 'technique' with little to no explanation. Good job pointing out a little noticed skill.

I only had one issue with the article. The parenthesized part of 'If the toes are pointed slightly outward (as feels more natural)' seemed like pure opinion in an article that was mostly explanatory. I've always been more comfortable with my feet angled in, and that's one thing I always check out in any athlete I'm playing with or against in any sport. In my experience, I've found a noticeable correlation between the angling in of one's feet and general speed and agility. I don't think it's fair to assume that angling out of feet is natural.

Another article I'd like to see would be about the footwork of defensive backs. we hear about receivers being good 'route runners,' and some DBs being good cover guys, but what makes it so? My experiences playing Ultimate have taught me that footwork during coverage is a completely unappreciated skill, and I'd like to see how true that is in Football.

14
by Drew (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 10:21am

I agree with #10 -- the opening sentences of the article make it clear that the article is specifically about footwork, and not OL technique as a whole.

Don't rag on Darko though, unless you're referring to him and Mandarich as wasted draft choices, in which case I agree. But he's been playing OK since he got to a team that actually allows him to play.

More on the Mandarich/Milicic comparison:

1989 NFL Draft top 5 --
1 Troy Aikman, Cowboys, QB, UCLA
2 Tony Mandarich, Packers, T, Michigan State
3 Barry Sanders, Lions, RB, Oklahoma State
4 Derrick Thomas, Chiefs, LB, Alabama
5 Deion Sanders, Falcons, DB, Florida State

2003 NBA Draft top 5 --
1 CLE, LeBron James, St. Mary / St. Vincent HS (OH)
2 DET, Darko Milicic, Serbia
3 DEN, Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse
4 TOR, Chris Bosh, Georgia Tech
5 MIA, Dwyane Wade, Marquette

Holy ''pissing away the #2 overall pick'' Batman!

15
by Nate (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 10:52am

Common wisdom seems to be that it’s fine to pick eventual top-flight lineman late in the draft
Please list the top-flight left tackles taken after the second round. The list is veeeery short.

16
by dman (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 10:53am

Well, in the piston's defense darko seems to be doing better now that larry brown isn't his coach and he actually sees some minutes. Unfortunately that happened after he left detroit.

17
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 11:12am

Good article, Mike.

What's interesting is that some of your points were mentioned by the ESPN lads in their draft special last night. Maybe you do know what you're talking about. ;-)

18
by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 11:26am

Never having played at any level, most of this was new to me. Usually you hear ''x shows great technique'', with no explanation of what that technique is. It's nice to have an explanation.

19
by mikeabbott (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 11:37am

More articles like this please! For those of us who , unlike #7 ;),don't already know everything this sort of introductory explanation is appreciated.

20
by the K (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 12:02pm

Footwork is more important than hands. Hands can be taught more easily...footwork is, as pointed out by Mike in the article, something that becomes much more of a habit that is hard to break. All the pundits talk about this guy doesn't get his hands inside, or can't get his hands outside, or yadda yadda. The most insight we get from most of them is 'Footwork needs to improve.' Gee, thanks. 10/10 on this article.

21
by the K (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 12:04pm

#14: Can you imagine if Barry Sanders had gone to the Packers with the #2 pick, and played there through the Holmgren years? Scary.

22
by turbohappy (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 12:07pm

Thanks, I thought it was pretty interesting. Looking forward to more in the series!

23
by Ray (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 12:30pm

Great article, Mike. Thanks for the info. I'm also looking forward to more in the future. Like some above, I'm also mystified by how you can tell when a WR runs a 'good route', and plenty more.

24
by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 12:35pm

Good article. For someone who doesn't know the ins and outs of line play, it's a good read.

Are you going to be covering why tackles are considered so much more valuable than centers and guards in this series as well?

25
by MikeT (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 1:20pm

Beyond Size and Speed will be a three-part series this year: this one, Trunk Strength for all players, and Pocket Presence for quarterbacks.

There's only 2 weeks to the draft, so there isn't much time for any more. But Minicamp will return in the summer, when the rest of the NFL reporters will be holding a vigil outside the Favre estate.

26
by Erik (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 2:19pm

This article was very interesting and I'm looking forward to the next two. Reading this article left me wanting to know more and I wonder if FO has a list of reccomneded books. Are there sources that the FO staff finds particularly useful? (other than the PFP, which I'll probably buy from Books On Tape, I hear it'll be great!)

27
by Drew (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 2:21pm

Re 21,

I'd be even more scared of a pass rush featuring Reggie White and Derrick Thomas. Good Glavin.

28
by BillWallace (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 2:42pm

Would it have been so difficult for one broadcaster through all the years I've been listening to football to have gone over some of this stuff?

29
by admin :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 3:00pm

Dr. Z's New Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football has become quite dated and really needs to be replaced by the New New Thinking Man's Guide -- it's hilarious to read all the references to the USFL, which looked like it was in it for the long haul back in 1984 -- but it still has tons of good technique-type discussion. Start there.

30
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 3:19pm

Re: 14

Indeed, that was the point of the Darko comparison. In the midst of two of the most top-heavy drafts ever in their respective sports, the teams picking second got next to nothing. The 89 draft had three certain Hall of Famers (Aikman and Barry in already, Deion is a lock, and please don't reopen the discussion of whether you think he belongs for the umpteenth time), while Thomas is one of those borderline guys who might get in eventually, and was certainly a great player. As for the 03 draft, it's too early to declare anyone a Hall lock, but would you bet against LeBron, Melo, or Wade making it? Bosh has been a pretty decent player, and really has a chance to be a star as well. As for Darko, we've got to remember he's still really young, and maybe he just needed to get out of Detroit. Brown is notoriously bad on young players, and the coaching change didn't really seem to help a lot. I don't recall offhand what Detroit got for him in the trade, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and say they'd rather have any of Melo, Wade, or Bosh.

On one other issue, I also think footwork is more important than hand use. A lineman with bad hands but good footwork can still be somewhat useful, at least he'll be in the defense's way on most plays. A lineman with great hands and bad feet will have his uniform number well-known by everyone in the stadium, usually preceeded by [quote]Holding, offense[end quote]. Obviously both are extremely important though, and often overlooked.

31
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 3:33pm

Good piece

32
by Hutz (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 3:48pm

Outstanding article. It is a breath of fresh air to read an article revolving around the draft that is informative, well written and devoid of the usual cliches that usually clutter such pieces. Well done.

33
by Mike B. (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 4:47pm

Nice work, despite what #7 said. For the casual fan, it's very informative.

34
by seamus (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 4:47pm

#10, #30:

As I recall, Mandarich also got smaller and weaker as soon as he had first contact with the NFL's drug testing regime. He was drafted around 300 (bigger than average in 1989), but he was down around 280 by his second year.

35
by Avoid (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 4:49pm

I too found Dr. Z's book very informative, if somewhat dated. He has extensive discussions of the 4-3s and many of its intracacies, however Aaron is correct that it certainly needs to be updated. It really doesn't cover the 3-4 at all, which I found disappointing. I was able to find the book on amazon for like 10 bucks used though. I'd also recommend, 'The Education of a Coach' by David Halberstam, about Bill Belichick's rise to coaching dominance. Another interesting book that has nothing to do with onfield schemes, but is nonetheless relevant is 'The Draft' by Pete Williams, which looks at the title subject from a variety of viewpoints. And of course Pro Football Prospectus 2005 is still a valuable football resource as well.

36
by WesM (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 5:11pm

Add another ''me too'' post, exclaiming this breath of fresh air amongst the usual pre-daft smog. When y'all archive these three articles, put a cross-link within the Strategy Mini Camps section. (I think that's where they'll fit if the first is any indication.)

And as someone from Portland, I have to say that all discussion of 2nd picks is verbotten.

37
by Terry (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 10:21pm

Any other ex-linemen get reminded of good memories when reading the stuff about pulling.

There's nothing like nailing a cocky linebacker to the turf... although a couple of years and pounds shed later, I ended up being that linebacker, lol.

38
by usedbread (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 10:27pm

#8
calling someone a coward on a msg board where anyone can post under any name is foolish.
(especially if you dont provide any backing information for why you perceive them to be such.)

if you're so incredibly brave, why not provide your name/address/ip with every post?

[im not making any threats here, in any way, shape or form, just saying]

#3- i read fox. i read espn, si, and even sportingnews when i get really, really bored. just because people havent found fo yet doesnt mean theyre complete idiots. im getting tired of the pomposity on this site in the boards. grow up, kids.

-good article, btw.

39
by Israel (not verified) :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 11:14pm

Very nice!

40
by admin :: Wed, 04/19/2006 - 11:52pm

re: 38. Posters are required to enter an e-mail address when posting. The poster known as someone enters a fake e-mail address. The fake e-mail and IP address are the same each time, so even though people can post using any name, it is clear that this is all the same person. The poster known as someone has made a number of personal attacks on the writers of this website, with his fake e-mail address preventing us from politely asking him to knock it off.

Just so you know.

41
by MM (not verified) :: Thu, 04/20/2006 - 4:12am

RE: 41
You're a moron and a coward!

42
by JasonC23 (not verified) :: Thu, 04/20/2006 - 10:16am

#41 called himself a moron and a coward.

We're through the looking glass, people.

43
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Thu, 04/20/2006 - 10:57am

Posts that go beyond the pale for content or language can be deleted, Jason; all other posts following are bumped up one number.

I'm going to guess that the #41 MM referes to no longer exists, and it is probably just as well.

44
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Thu, 04/20/2006 - 12:02pm

38: I used to post on the SI message boards back when it was cnnsi.com, and many of those people are raving idiots. Ditto with many of the people who post at other generic sports sites. Additionally, we had a massive influx of foolish posts shortly after FO made its debut on Fox Sports. That was not a coincidence.

Yes, this board can be a little pompous at times, but so can a college campus. No big deal. I like this site because it's not like a typical sports message board, where the posters obviously allow their opinions to be formed by sports radio hosts and are completely incapable of constructing or understanding a logical argument.

Sorry for the little tirade, guys.

45
by MRH (not verified) :: Thu, 04/20/2006 - 12:03pm

Re 43: either that or what #42 said or #41 has a pretty good sense of humor.

46
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Thu, 04/20/2006 - 12:42pm

RE 42:

As long as i do not see pieces of candy that say ''Eat Me'' and soda that says ''Drink Me'' I am fine. also those dancing clams could be a little hard to take as well.

RE 45:

Personally I don't know. I usually for the most part see the sarcasm and humor for what it is. but latley it seems that alot of people take things posted on the site to be attacks against them. I guess it is because we are all football fans and are suffering withdraw symptoms.

47
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Thu, 04/20/2006 - 2:05pm

My apologies to the Portland contingent. I obviously knew about Bowie going 2 behind Akeem and in front of Jordan. I just didn't realize that Sam Perkins (solid player, long excellent career) and Barkley (in the Hall yet?) were the next two players. Wow. How you can draft 2nd there and come away with nothing...

And for the record, I am both a moron and a coward. Or am I?

48
by rk (not verified) :: Thu, 04/20/2006 - 3:38pm

Barkley goes in this year along with Dominique Wilkins.

49
by MM (not verified) :: Thu, 04/20/2006 - 3:43pm

RE: 42, 43
It was just a joke. Lighten up a little.

50
by zip (not verified) :: Thu, 04/20/2006 - 4:54pm

"are double quotes really back?"

51
by usedbread (not verified) :: Thu, 04/20/2006 - 5:22pm

#38, if the person making the posts always has the same ip, why not just globally ban it from accessing the site? harassment is certainly a worthy reason for banishment.

sorry, im done ranting for the week. happy 4/20.

52
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Thu, 04/20/2006 - 5:26pm

As 'just a fan', I didn't know any of that stuff. Informative article, MDS.

53
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Thu, 04/20/2006 - 5:44pm

"Yea" "Double" "Quotes" "Are" "Back"

Now i just have to get used to using them again after using a double single for so darn long.

54
by Catfish (not verified) :: Thu, 04/20/2006 - 9:26pm

First, I must join the consesus and proclaim my praise for this wonderful article. But now a question for the author: what do you think of Fergusson's footwork? He's been hyped as the best OL and one of the best overall in the draft, and he certainly has the greatest first name in the history of mankind, but I haven't heard anyone discuss his footwork.

55
by Stevie (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 12:35am

Yes we had an influx of hostile posters but that was mainly of the "NFCcentral template power rankings too low variety". Most of the regulars to this site see the name "someone" and skip to the next post unless we're looking for unintentional comedy. Seriously though if you compare these boards to any I know of on the web we are a model of civility. Enjoyed the article

56
by TomG (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 9:12am

Have you ever pushed a stalled car? You shift it into neutral, brace yourself against the frame, and then shove. But you don't push with your arms: you strain with your thighs and hips to start your momentum forward.

Now you tell me...

57
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 9:12am

"""""""""
I like the new trunk strength article. I actually haven't seen Ferguson play a whole lot, so I wonder just how bad his lower body strength is. Do you think it's something that a summer in an NFL weight room will fix? Or does he just have a small frame that won't carry huge legs no matter what? Even with a weaker trunk, I could still see being a top pass blocker, the biggest thing that would suffer would be drive blocking, so he should still be a good one, regardless.

58
by Mick Fridley (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 9:43am

This is some of the best, and most helpful stuff I've read as far as teaching and motivating my teenage son and keeping him on track in the off season - I can't thank you enough. I never played that much (or that well!) but I know how much it helped me in life to have had that experience, I'm really appreciative of having some good, solid advice and long term goals to pass on to my son that will help him make the most of his playing years.
Thanks!

59
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 9:54am

Wow, I really DO have an east coast bias. I just spent the longest time trying to figure out what the Portland references were about, since Portlane, ME, has never had a pro sports team, to my knowledge. Or maybe it's just that I haven't had my coffee this morning...

60
by DWL (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 9:57am

RE: #38 You're absolutely correct regarding the anonymity issue, but I get enough spam w/ out getting vindictive e-mails related to this and other sites to put my e-mail address out there, but I can say this...anytime I post here, it will always be under the same Name. Nonetheless, at times it's best to keep emotions in check, but when posts are blatant and insulting cracks as in #7, it's hard, as I respect the intellect and level of decorum that is maintained on this site (along w/ the often clever and frequenlty hilarious sarcasm). As to not "backing up" my rationale, I made the mistake of thinking it obvious to all, next time I'll spell out.

61
by Spike (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 10:32am

You can infer it from the article, but it's worth noting explicitly how exhausting squats are for the total body, since they use so much muscle.

Doing a hard set of heavy bench presses may wind you, but you recover quickly. Hard squats, on the other hand, drain you mentally, suck the oxygen out of you, and take a lot more recovery time. Endurance on the squat says a lot about a player's durability if you're considering focused effort late in a game.

62
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 11:00am

re: 44 (and others)
One of the reasons that I like this site is the assortment of random trivia that pops up, last week I was in a discussion about Heroditus. Also bizzare use of Smiths quotes from someone i can only assume is american, I never knew Salford's finest had reached the far side of the pond. All this with intelligent football debate, even if the worship at the altar of DVOA and DPAR can be taken too far (personally I don't like its use for individual players and things like 'runs over left tackle', but I do think it is the best measure I have seen for overall defense or offense)

63
by JasonC23 (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 11:08am

#43 and #49--For the record, my comment in #42 was a joke, made because I thought it was funny that #41, whether intentionally or not, called himself a moron and a coward (it's funny either way, so well done, #41!). I thought one funny comment deserved another. That's all. I'm nothing if not light.

64
by Green Bay for Life (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 11:58am

Interesting comment about D'Brickshaw having poor trunk strength. Perhaps he should not be taken in the first round?

And what about Winston Justice? he is another high round expectation and there is no mention of wether he has good, bad, or normal trunk strength.

But yet again this article proves that there is nore to talk about out there then jst he is a 6'5 350 monster so he must be good.

Keep up the good work guys.

65
by Jeremy (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 3:17pm

Great article, but don't the first two paragraphs completely contradict each other?

Paragraph 1: It doesn't matter how big and strong a tackle is -- bad footwork leads to failure.

Paragraph 2: Many great college tackles don't succeed in the NFL because they have bad footwork, which wasn't a problem in college because they were so big and strong.

I guess Paragraph 1 could be describing an NFL tackle, but it isn't clear.

66
by Ashley Tate (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 4:20pm

RE: 47

If you're going to bring up blown picks in the '84 NBA draft you must at least mention John Stockton at #16!

67
by Martial (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 6:05pm

#62 - Good god, the Smiths were HUGE in certain circles in the US. They were even big enough to be absolutely detested by other circles. Of course, neither of those circles were particularly big in the mid-80s, back when I would hang out behind my high school with the smokers. Oddly - and sports related - ESPN's Bill Simmons also appears to have been a fan back in the day.

Mike (and MikeDS), thanks for these quick briefings. You're making me miss football! I'm going to have to break out the Pats DVDs just to look at some footwork.

68
by MikeT (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 9:34pm

D'Brickashaw should absolutely be taken in the first round! And in the first five spots or so. Everybody has a weakness. Brick's thin lower body keeps him from being one of the top 5 or 10 tackle prospects of the last 20 years, not from being the top tackle prospect this year.

69
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Fri, 04/21/2006 - 10:52pm

59: I believe that the Breakers of the USFL played in Portland, ME for at least one season.

70
by Jim Haug (not verified) :: Sun, 04/23/2006 - 7:47pm

69- Twas Portland Oregon where the Breakers landed after Boston and New orleans. I LOVED watching Johnny Walton play QB.

71
by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 04/24/2006 - 2:22pm

I would humbly like to extend my thanks to Gregg Easterbrook (aka TMQ) whom I got hooked on at Slate.com, then followed to ESPN and then here when he was in temporary exile for something non-football-related he wrote on his blog. That's how I discovered FO, and great articles like this one. Somehow, TMQ has worn out his welcome a bit (for me) but FO never does.

Oh, and as with most of the above comments, I thought this was a very good article. As I taught my charges when I coached wrestling, it all starts with footwork.

72
by Harris (not verified) :: Tue, 04/25/2006 - 10:41am

Lincoln Kennedy had relatively skinny legs for such huge man, but I recall that being a strength because he quicker than most RTs. With many DEs now weighing between 255 and 270, I'm betting OTs will start getting smaller as well.

73
by Brandon (not verified) :: Wed, 04/26/2006 - 1:46am

72: I don't know, there's a lot of 3-4 DE's these days, who usually weigh around the 300 mark.

74
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 04/26/2006 - 8:17am

Brandon (#73 )--

True, but that means one of the pass rushers would be a linebacker, weighing in at something between 240 and 270 anyway.

75
by DJAnyReason (not verified) :: Wed, 04/26/2006 - 2:01pm

There's an article on FoxSports in this series about QBs, but it doesn't seem to be linked from the main page...

76
by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Thu, 04/27/2006 - 1:05pm

The pocket presence article touched on Cutler (bad) and Young (bad), but kind of sidestepped (pun def intended) Leinart. Is he as "polished and NFL ready" in this area as his reputation would imply?

77
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Thu, 04/27/2006 - 6:03pm

Awesome article. It would be fascinating to know which coaches/teams are considered the best tutors of QBs, as far as what you call "pocket presence" is concerned. Are there QBs playing now who have developed this ability, but didn't seem to have it in their college years? The point I'm getting at being that it isn't just the player's ability to learn, but also a coach's ability to teach.

78
by SJM (not verified) :: Fri, 04/28/2006 - 2:03am

Kaveman:

Certain coaches seem to be able to "find" good QB's over and over. Martz in particular comes to mind. I put "find" in quotes because I believe finding talent really means teaching talent in some cases.

79
by masocc (not verified) :: Fri, 04/28/2006 - 8:15am

Re: #46 "...those dancing clams could be a little hard to take as well".

No kidding. Just ask the Vikings.

80
by masocc (not verified) :: Fri, 04/28/2006 - 9:26am

Re: #21 Oooh, I love re-imaginings!

So:

1989: GB has drafted Barry Sanders instead of Mandarich. Sanders provides the instant jolt to the running game that GB needed. Instead of 10-6, they finish the next season at 13-3, with *considerably* fewer nailbiter games. The Majik disintegrates early in the playoffs, throwing 3 picks in a loss to the 49ers juggernaught.

1990: Having packaged their mid and late 1st round picks to move up to #9 and grab Richmond Webb, the two headed monster of Barry and Majik grows ever stronger. Alas, the Pack finishes at 12-4 due to a late season injury to Majik and the horror that was Anthony Dilweg. Even Barry Sanders can't save them from a trouncing by the Giants in their first playoff game.

1991: Disappointed that their highly coveted target at DB was off the board (Vinnie Clark), the Packers reach and select "Brett Favor, QB, Southern Mississippi" as insurance for Majik. Rumor also has it that the coaching staff may not be thrilled with Don's propensity to through interceptions.

Amazingly, Majik throws a ton of picks before going down to an injury. Unfortunately, the rookie QB isn't quite ready yet and is showing some character problems, so the Pack must play newly acquired free agent Mike Tomczak. Sub-mediocrity ensues. 4-12.

1992: Upset by the early playoff exits after promising regular seasons, and the previous years implosions, GB fans give Lindy Infante an ultimatum: Give us the NFC championship next year, or get lost. Shortly thereafter, Infante is discovered drinking with a buddy at Don Majkowski's Steakhouse. That buddy? Yup, Brett Favor. Infante is immediately dismissed.

Some guy named Holmgren is brought in, who's first act is to sober up his promising young QB. In the process, Brett realizes people have been mispronouncing his name for years, and Brett Favre is born (again).

Happiness, Divisional Championships, Super Bowls, and even a PERFECT season soon follow, as Holmgren, Sanders, Favre, Sharpe, and Reggie White frolic in the verdant fields of Green Bay. The frozen tundra thaws, the President declares an end to all taxes (since we've perfected cold fusion and all), and all is right with the world.

81
by masocc (not verified) :: Fri, 04/28/2006 - 9:27am

My apologies for the numerous typo's and grammatical errors. It's late. Just deal, and enjoy. Sorry.

82
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 04/28/2006 - 11:00am

So here's a question:

What kind of college teams did Brady and Aikman play for? Did they have good pocket presence then, or did they learn it in the pros? Does a QB have to play for the right sort of college team in order not to be psychologically "damaged" into not having good pocket presence?

I don't follow much college football. How was Brady's O-line and recieving corps at Michigan?

83
by Jon Coit (not verified) :: Fri, 04/28/2006 - 1:25pm

re: 13

Since it doesn't look like there's a soon-to-be article on footwork for WR's and DB's, here's my two cents on route running in hopes there will be corrections/discussion:

1. It's impossible to tell most times when watching TV; at best you can watch the receivers release from the LOS, and only sometimes on replays actually see them run the route.
2. When you do see a replay: one of the key things to look for is when the receiver runs their fastest (but not on buttonhooks etc.): ideally receivers get separation by running initially to move their coverage out of the eventual break or cut; then they are supposed to burst out of the cut to the ball. I remember seeing a great replay of Torry Holt running a post-corner vs. SF last year, you could see him dig into the post, then cut into the corner and jump into a higher gear.

More??

84
by johonny (not verified) :: Fri, 04/28/2006 - 2:24pm

If Cutler doesn't slow down and learn to stand in, he'll become a Joey Harrington who rarely takes a sack but throws too many incomplete passes.

Harrington completes around 56-57 % of his passes since his rookie year. His problem isn't too many incomplete passes but that his passes simply don't go anywhere. 5.7 Y/A is terrible.

85
by Duncan (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 6:21pm

Re: 13
Key things to watch for in receiver patterns:
1. The pattern should be a series of straight lines, with no curves where the WR changes direction. This is because the defender will always move in a curve, so sharp cuts generate separation.
2. The hips should stay at the same level even when changing direction. This is because if the hips drop as the WR starts his cut, the DB knows a cut is coming before the WR has actually changed direction.
3. When coming back toward the QB, the WR should always keep his feet moving. If the WR stops, then the hard won separation gets eaten up very quickly.
4. When making a cut the WR should get his head around to look for the ball ASAP. If the route is short, then the QB will be leting go of the ball as he makes his cut, so if the WR doesn't get his head around fast enough then he will have no time to locate and adjust to the ball.

I'm sure there must be entire books out there on this topic alone, but hopefully some of the above will be useful.

86
by cjfarls (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 10:33pm

Re: 84

Ummm... 57% is not a good completion percentage for a pro quarterback... with the exception of the Giants, who people theorize is a more down-field attack resulting in more incompletions, anything less than 60% for a pro offense is not getting it done.