Very few people like change, least of all NFL general managers and coaches. If you want to play quarterback in the NFL then you need to fit into a cookie cutter mold. Two quarterbacks from the 2012 draft class are breaking the mold and showing that when it comes to winning, there is no perfect mold.
NFL scouts want a quarterback to be 6’3″ or taller, have a strong arm with an overhand throwing motion and be comfortable making plays from the pocket.
There have always been a few outliers along the way like Fran Tarkenton and Doug Flutie, but for the most part NFL personnel want tall, pocket passers who can distribute the ball to their skill talent. The prevailing wisdom has always been that a running quarterback will get hurt in the NFL.
If the quarterback is not tall, he will not be able to see over the offensive linemen. If he does not have a rocket arm then he will not be able to make all of the throws required in the league.
Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III have crushed these commonly held beliefs while leading their teams to surprising success in 2012. Wilson and RG3 do not fit the mold of the classic drop-back quarterback and are paving the way for a new breed of mobile quarterbacks in the NFL.
Griffin has the size and the arm strength that NFL scouts covet. What sets him apart from the average quarterback is his speed. He ran the 40 in 4.4 seconds at the NFL combine. He also was an All-American in the hurdles at Baylor and competed in the 2008 Olympic Trials.
The Washington Redskins selected him with the No. 2 overall pick on the 2012 NFL Draft and then they did something amazing. Instead of trying to force Griffin to adjust to an entirely new offense and scheme, they adjusted their scheme and offense around Griffin. The Washington Redskins are running an offense identical to what Griffin ran at Baylor during the four years he was in college.
While the majority of the NFL runs some variation of the West Coast offense, Washington has gone 7-6 behind a rookie quarterback while running the spread offense. They are proving that the spread offense can not only exist in the NFL, it can thrive.
Griffin has completed 66 percent of his passes for 2,902 yards with only four interceptions. He has rushed for a rookie record 748 yards. The Redskins are averaging 5.3 yards per rush from an offense that has often been derided as the “chuck and duck” offense.
Washington is proving that you can build a team in the NFL around a dynamic, scrambling quarterback and still have immense success on offense. They are proving that the spread can work in the NFL.
Russell Wilson slipped to the third round of the 2012 draft because he was not as tall as scouts preferred. It did not matter that he had a cannon for a right arm, or that he set the collegiate record for passing efficiency in a season, all the scouts saw was his listed height of 5’11.”
Wilson shocked the pro football establishment by beating out Matt Flynn for the starting quarterback spot in August. Flynn was the prize of the 2012 free agent market and was expected to be the quarterback to lead Seattle to the promised land.
The rookie from Wisconsin simply played better in camp than the five-year veteran who came to the Seahawks from Green Bay. Wilson has excelled during his rookie campaign, leading Seattle to an 8-5 record while displaying the poise expected of a veteran quarterback.
Wilson has passed for 2,492 yards with 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He has also rushed for 310 yards on 4.5 yards per carry. The Seahawks are running more of a traditional West Coast offense, but they do incorporate some zone-read and other spread principles into it in order to take advantage of Wilson’s mobility.
Wilson and RG3 are proving that there is no such thing as a perfect mold for an NFL quarterback. In the process, they are making it easier for athletes like Johnny “Football” Manziel to make it into the league.
One of the biggest knocks on Manziel when he eventually enters the draft, will be his lack of ideal size. He is listed at 6’1″ but is closer to 6’0″ or 5’11″ in real life. Wilson is showing the NFL that height is not an impeding factor when it comes to success in the NFL at quarterback.
RG3 is proving that you can mold an offense around the talents of a dynamic runner like Manziel and still have tremendous success in the NFL. Wilson and RG3 are going out on every Sunday and proving that the old way of thinking is wrong. Mobile quarterbacks like Manziel are the future of the game.