Marcus Mariota; The Task-Oriented QB

This is the second part of an analysis Eric Stoner performed on Mariota for the RSP blog. The first part is how to develop a grading scale for quarterbacks. This post covers notable parts of Mariota’s game from Eric’s tape study. I’m restating this post with the end of the previous one. If it seems familiar, you know why . . .

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17 comments, Last at 09 Apr 2015, 6:53pm

1 Re: Marcus Mariota; The Task-Oriented QB

I feel like Mariota is going to bust, like most highly touted NCAA spread QBs. If he's lucky, when he's discarded in 4 years Kelly or a Kelly disciple picks him up, and uses him the way he's supposed to be used.
The NFL wants timing based, WCO, Ernhardt Perkins, Coryell style QBs. All are pretty much the same concepts, and only about 10 guys can do it all well against top defenses. 5 guys can do it regularly against the top defenses. Colleges know those guys are nearly impossible to find, so most of them discarded such a complicated system for their QBs.
In the NFL, every coordinator worked under another NFL coordinator. Every HC is a promoted coordinator. The same systems are duplicated again and again. Its madness! The only reason an offensive coordinator gets promoted to HC is because he had a Brady, Favre, Rodgers. The very few great QBs get their coaching staffs promoted. They go elsewhere, fail to find Andrew Luck, and get fired at the 3rd year mark. But maybe not if the defense is very good, in the case of Jeff Fisher. But look at who gets to win playoff games. That guy will get promoted.
And the NFL coaching and GM circles have no respect for NCAA, at ALL. When Kelly made his moves, somebody I forgot said "You're talking about a guy who 8 years ago was coordinating at [forgot what school]. That's what they all believe, like you have to be HC winning titles to be considered as valuable as an NFL coordinator retread.
- Roo

11 Re: Marcus Mariota; The Task-Oriented QB

Was that coach's name Rich Kotite?! Yes, it was. No, no, no wait! It was Ray Rhodes!

Let me check and see if either of them were head coaches in NFL 4 years after their two 10+ win seasons... hm... right here, it says they weren't.

Kotite actually won more games than Kelly in his first two seasons. So far, I'm about as impressed by Kelly as I was by Kotite. Rhodes, Kotite and Kelly all also seem to manage the QB position roughly the same way.

14 Re: Marcus Mariota; The Task-Oriented QB

Were Kotite and Rhodes the general managers as well? Because I think that's what has gone wrong with Kelly; he's running the whole team, as opposed to just coaching. The only time this has worked was when Jimmy Johnson went to the NFL. Of course, Jerry Jones was the gm, but he was basically doing what Johnson told him to do, until he got tired of it. Johnson's next time around worked alright, but not well enough for a championship. Johnson also did not have to deal with a salary cap at Dallas, which is what will destroy Kelly's reign of terror in Philly.

15 Re: Marcus Mariota; The Task-Oriented QB

The Eagles had Harry Gamble as GM/president from 1986 through the 1994 season, but he was phased out once Lurie bought the team in May 1994. (As an example, Gamble disagreed with firing Kotite.)

This 1993 article claims that personnel decisions were "handled almost exclusively by Harry Gamble, head coach Rich Kotite and Tom Gamble, with occasional in-season input from Kotite's assistant coaches." So Kotite had some control, but not total.

As far as I can tell, Rhodes had control over personnel decisions for the next three years - PFR lists him as "de facto General Manager" for 1996 and 1997.

Kotite of course was Jets general manager during his 4-28 coaching stint there.

17 Re: Marcus Mariota; The Task-Oriented QB

Well, the other big Kotite parallel was that the players apparently hated him. It's generally thought they tanked when he started agitating for a new contract. With everyone on the way out the door in Philly coming to the edge of saying "yeah, screw that guy" about Kelly, it's easy to imagine them having a similar "give up" season at some point...

As for Kelly being a GM, I've cooled down a little about his moves because I genuinely don't know what he's doing. Right now, it seems like there's no way they'll have enough cap space to sign their draft picks, so it seems like another move is in the offing. Maybe Bradford is somehow trade bait for Mariota or there's another plan for dealing with their cap pressure, but it seems like there's still another shoe or two to fall.

(Not that I love Mariota, but goddamn give me that dude over Bradford any day of the week, it does't matter if you have to give up a boatload of picks to get him - the Bradford situation is a living nightmare with almost zero upside.)

2 Re: Marcus Mariota; The Task-Oriented QB

When Urban Meyer beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl...Alabama IS an NFL defense with NFL coordinator Nick Saban. Most of those Alabama defenders are going to be drafted, mostly by the Ravens if history is any guide. When Meyer beat them with his THIRD STRING QB playing only his 3rd game??

That SHOULD be the turning point for strategic thinking on Offense in the NFL. What the hell are we doing this same exact thing for? We can draft 3 of the dozens of spread QBs, turn our whole run game into optionesque, with packaged screens and pass options on QB keepers and beat good defenses if we execute. Don't worry about 20 million dollars for an NFL QB, pay these guys what their draft round prescribes, if he goes down, the next guy can execute it almost as well.
Didn't Meyer also turn Tebow into a legend? A guy who can't throw? I was watching 2008 title game Gators vs Oklohoma recently out of curiosity; Tebow's eye discipline and wind up was so bad, a safety 20 yards away from the intended receiver picked it off. The replay was hilarious, for people like me who are used to the NFL. Where guys who stare down targets and take seconds to wind up and throw never get any on field action until the 2nd QB is hurt.

- Roo

3 Re: Marcus Mariota; The Task-Oriented QB

NCAA run first spread schemes guys open, makes for simple reads by the QB. Look at the best pass rusher 1st, hand off if he does A, keep if he does B, Look at this LB, throw or keep, than screen or run. Its A-B-C-D. NFL QBing demands reading the whole field, than throwing, on the 3rd step. 4th step. If you don't know what to do on the 5th, the play is a total bust, its time to run or hide or throw it away. Because its not sandlot football, the recievers are at fixed points, and they're running fast. By the 5th second, all the targets are past their points wondering why they don't have the ball. That's like every down for RG3.
Yet RG3 DID HAVE 2012, that season really happened. Why not stick to what worked? NFL stubborness. Okay that offense was college kid stuff, its time to learn how to play the REAL FOOTBALL(tm); WCO that Elway played in. Cant do it? Well we got 2 other guys who cant do it either. For god's sake, hire somebody from Baylor and go back to 2012.
- Roo

16 Re: Marcus Mariota; The Task-Oriented QB

I don't think the Redskins forgot what worked in 2012. They stopped doing it because RG3's knee was badly injured and he couldn't do the same stuff when he came back. And then Shanahan left.

NFL coaches aren't avoiding widespread usage of the option because of stubbornness, they're avoiding it because it's a college-level offense that doesn't work against pro defenders, who are much faster and more disciplined than what you see in college. It worked somewhat with RG3 because a) he was very fast, and b) he can throw a deep ball better than most fast QBs. But now he doesn't have the speed any longer.

RG3 has really been dragging his feet learning how to play as a drop-back, pocket QB. He's reportedly failing to learn how to do very basic things like take the proper number of steps backward after the snap.

Ultimately NFL coaches want to win more than anything else, and any strategy that will help them win is going to be used. It may not seem like that all the time but a professional league is a great exercise in evolution on a small scale. Coaches and strategies that can win get to stay around. Those that lose disappear.

8 Re: Marcus Mariota; The Task-Oriented QB

If I was a HS QB and had a reasonable expectation that I MIGHT be able to go on to the NFL, the last thing I'd do would be to go to a school that ran the spread. And if, for some reason, I did, I'd certainly spend my summers working with someone who could at least teach me how to drop back from under center. How is it that these guys spend three years in college and never bother trying to learn NFL 101?

13 Re: Marcus Mariota; The Task-Oriented QB

Wy don't they learn NFL 101? There were 14 QB's taken in the draft last year, the NFL is utterly irrelevant to most college QB's lives - you have no idea when you're in high school if the NFL is a realistic possibility. Or rather, realistically it's not. They need to focus their college system and doing the best they can at that. They're spending their summers learning to play the college game. The only way they get considered for the NFL is by excelling at being excellent college players - taking their focus off that is going to get in the way of actually being considered for the NFL.

If getting your footwork right it were as simple as taking some reps, then maybe you'd have a point. But it's not...