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  1. #1
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    Embracing The Mobile/Athletic QB

    I have done a little study based on what appears to be a trend, that teams are really embracing the mobile QB concept, and it appears that this style is gaining momentum. Clearly Lamar Jackson is the poster player for the mobile QB, and he looks every bit the MVP part, so far this season. This popularity seems to have taken hold in and around 2013 (think Newton, Wilson, Kaepernick, Griffin III), based on my simple data analysis. Let me explain...

    I narrowed it down to 2 categories, QBs in the top 50, and top 60 of rushing leaders. I could have just kept it to one category, but wanted to see if it added any more clarity to what I am analyzing. As for 60, I had to draw a line between where non rushing QBs made the list. By 60, whether I am correct or not, you start running out of RBs, and guys like Matt Ryan start showing up. (Hey, it's not exactly a high level study!!)

    Anyway, when I think of the QBs that are being drafted, and how some of them are performing, like Mahomes, Watson, Jackson, Allen, perhaps even Murray, it appears that QB athleticism is back in a big way. Those who are agile, but not without some decent ability to pass.

    To set the base for the following, after 2 games this season there are 5 Qbs in the top 50 rushers, and 8 in the top 60. Last season was exactly the same (5 and 8). From 2013 to game 2, this season the average has been, 4.1 and 6.7.

    Whereas during the period of 2003 thru 2012, the averages were only 1.6 and 2.4. Guys like Vick were few and far apart.

    However between 1999 and 2002, there was another boom era, with an average of 5.8 and 8.5. 2000 was the most prolific year of all, with 8 QBs in the top 50, and 12 in the top 60. Mobile QBs were ruling the turf. Think of: McNabb (27th), Gannon (32nd), Culpepper (35th), Stewart (37th), Garcia (38th), McNair (40th), King (45th), McNown (50th), Johnson (53rd), Fielder (56th), Blake (59th), Brunell (60th), and a bunch more just below. This was mobile QB prime time!

    From 1989 thru 1998 the numbers were lower, averaging 1.7 and 4.3.

    And though my analysis may not be overly sophisticated, there seems to be much more evidence that the mobile QB was not much of a factor, from 1970 (the beginning of my review) thru 1988, averaging just 0.9 and 1.8. Different game, far different era.

    ~~~~~~~

    Now, there are loads of explanation for all of this. The game changes. The rules change. Teams adopt and adapt. There is a high degree of copy cat'ism,. The discussion for the changing landscape going back to 1970 could take days.

    But I am focussing on the era of today, because I sense that young QBs with good legs and good arms, and yes, good football IQ, are a special commodity. If players like Lamar Jackson can shine, at least for now, no doubt other teams will get more interested. Sure, many of us like the guy with the cannon, but what if that guy can move?

    So, back to The Broncos. Flacco is doing his best, so far. Folks are correct in saying that. But when I gaze into the future, will Lock be the more mobile weapon we can depend on? Quite possibly. If not, do we embrace the idea of going with young guns with very quick feet? I hope so. For me, that's not necessarily the way it will all go, but at the same time I would not rule out the possibility. I believe in a good passing arm....but athleticism can get it done in more ways than one.
    Last edited by CanDB; 09-20-2019 at 12:50 PM.

  2. #2
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    Easier to say after game 3 than game 12. Given the price of quarterbacks I think the Brady model is impossible to beat. He stays healthy and his experience pays off in the long run. 16 games is too much for zone read quarterbacks. Lock's mobility is an asset if he is trying to survive for the next play. His mobility is a liability if he is trying to get a first down.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by CanDB View Post
    And though my analysis may not be overly sophisticated, there seems to be much more evidence that the mobile QB was not much of a factor, from 1970 (the beginning of my review) thru 1988, averaging just 0.9 and 1.8. Different game, far different era.
    Interesting analysis, though there is always an exception to the rule

    I grew up a Vikings fan so Fran Tarkenton (aka The Mad Scrambler) immediately comes to mind as the most successful mobile QB of the 60's/70's. 9 Pro Bowls, 3 Super Bowl appearances, 1975 NFL MVP, 3,674 rushing yards and 32 rushing TD's on 675 carries. He still holds the record among QB's by scoring a running TD in 15 different seasons, not to mention holding the records for passes attempted, passes completed, passing yards (47,003), and TD's (342) when he retired in '78!
    Last edited by Dennis.1960; 09-20-2019 at 01:29 PM.
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    Imo having a Qb that can do both is a huge asset. I look at Mahomes and think he might be the best Qb in the NFL . He stands in pocket and has pretty good awareness . He can also extend the play with his legs . Perfect combo. It's the run 1st QBs who dont last . You have to be able to win from the pocket . If a Qb only has 1 quality out of pocket passer or running read option Qb , the pocket passer is will prevail. Look at mobile QBs who can win from the pocket like

    Elway
    Rodgers
    Rodger the Dodger Staubach
    Last edited by orange crush75; 09-20-2019 at 01:58 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis.1960 View Post
    Interesting analysis, though there is always an exception to the rule

    I grew up a Vikings fan so Fran Tarkenton (aka The Mad Scrambler) immediately comes to mind as the most successful mobile QB of the 60's/70's. 9 Pro Bowls, 3 Super Bowl appearances, 1975 NFL MVP, 3,674 rushing yards and 32 rushing TD's on 675 carries. He still holds the record among QB's by scoring a running TD in 15 different seasons, not to mention holding the records for passes attempted, passes completed, passing yards (47,003), and TD's (342) when he retired in '78!
    As I researched this, I thought about Fran. He was MOBILE!!! And I think you'll agree, a unique QB given his era.



    I think that some us would say that most mobile QBs, back in the day, were not great passers. But nowadays, I see QBs who are complete. Watson and Mahomes seem to have it all, and though young Jackson is more of a runner, he has done his homework, and is already a force. So yes, I believe you can have it all as a QB, including the IQ. There were always be the really good drop back passers, but the complete/athletic QB may be more and more sought out as teams recognize the versatility and adaptability of these young men. And not very easy to game plan against.

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    Quote Originally Posted by orange crush75 View Post
    Imo having a Qb that can do both is a huge asset. I look at Mahomes and think he might be the best Qb in the NFL . He stands in pocket and has pretty good awareness . He can also extend the play with his legs . Perfect combo. It's the run 1st QBs who dont last . You have to be able to win from the pocket . If a Qb only has 1 quality out of pocket passer or running read option Qb , the pocket passer is will prevail. Look at mobile QBs who can win from the pocket like

    Elway
    Rodgers
    Rodger the Dodger Staubach
    I completely agree. Definitely not a run first QB. Still interested to see where Jackson's career heads, because he does run a lot. But his emergence from a late 1st rounder who trailed a group of rookie QBs, to this early season phenom makes me wonder if this guy gets the game better than we could have expected.

    Mahomes is amazing, and I've seen flashes of that from Watson as well.
    Last edited by CanDB; 09-20-2019 at 02:10 PM.

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    How do you have a thread talking about mobile QBs over the years and not have Steve Young listed? He was Possibly the greatest dual threat QB in NFL history.

    No he wasn't a true "run first" QB, but he went over 400 yards on the ground 5 times in his career, and was one of the most accurate passers the league had ever seen during his era. From 1992 to 1997 his lowest completion percentage was 66.7%. To put this in perspective this was in an era when there were maybe 1 or 2 QBs (other than Young) who were flirting with 64% completion. And to add more perspective amongst his top peers at the time: Dan Marino went over 64% twice in his entire career. John Elway never got to a 64% completion. Joe Montana was always around 64% but only once got to (surpassed) the 66.7% mark that Young routinely put up.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Butler By'Note View Post
    How do you have a thread talking about mobile QBs over the years and not have Steve Young listed? He was Possibly the greatest dual threat QB in NFL history.

    No he wasn't a true "run first" QB, but he went over 400 yards on the ground 5 times in his career, and was one of the most accurate passers the league had ever seen during his era. From 1992 to 1997 his lowest completion percentage was 66.7%. To put this in perspective this was in an era when there were maybe 1 or 2 QBs (other than Young) who were flirting with 64% completion. And to add more perspective amongst his top peers at the time: Dan Marino went over 64% twice in his entire career. John Elway never got to a 64% completion. Joe Montana was always around 64% but only once got to (surpassed) the 66.7% mark that Young routinely put up.
    Steve Young was vastly underrated and deserves to be in the GOAT discussion IMO. Unfortunately the shadow of Montana did him no favors.

    Anywho, QBs that can run are nightmares to defend. They dictate to the DC what he can’t and can’t call. Play man and risk him taking off when everyone has their backs turned, play zone and let the WRs find the soft spots, try to spy and take someone out of your coverage scheme, have your pass rushers slow rush to take away running lanes but give him extra time to find open WRs or do you send the house at them and hope they panic? They’re just super hard to defend. Steve Young found a great balance, Aaron Rodgers knows when to use his legs as well. Alex Smith really became a great QB by picking the perfect times to take off for a drive extending first down.

    The big negative though comes from how they’re coached through high school and college, so many are taught to one read and go and let their natural talent carry the team that it kills many of them at the next level. Lamar Jackson has a tremendous work ethic and is going to put in the work to be a great passer, same thing with Deshaun Watson even though he was much further along coming out of college. The drive to be a great pocket passer is key with these types of QBs. Cam Newton has not worked on his mechanics at all since coming into the NFL and now his arm is starting to give out on him. Still good enough to get by but man what a wasted career for him when I think of what he could’ve been.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Butler By'Note View Post
    How do you have a thread talking about mobile QBs over the years and not have Steve Young listed? He was Possibly the greatest dual threat QB in NFL history.

    No he wasn't a true "run first" QB, but he went over 400 yards on the ground 5 times in his career, and was one of the most accurate passers the league had ever seen during his era. From 1992 to 1997 his lowest completion percentage was 66.7%. To put this in perspective this was in an era when there were maybe 1 or 2 QBs (other than Young) who were flirting with 64% completion. And to add more perspective amongst his top peers at the time: Dan Marino went over 64% twice in his entire career. John Elway never got to a 64% completion. Joe Montana was always around 64% but only once got to (surpassed) the 66.7% mark that Young routinely put up.
    Is that a question?

    If it is, my response is pretty simple. My basis of this study is the numbers, not the individuals. I mentioned a few players, more present day, to support the data. As in, Vick was one, but in the few and far between days of mobile QBs. Talking about who was best is cool, but not really the crux of this thread.

    There were plenty of really good ones, and they were not likely mentioned (ie. Young, Tarkenton). This is about the trends, what style may be more prevalent in future, and the like. And if The Broncos will be playing one, as a starter, in the not too distant future.

    But I will assume it was not a question to me.
    Last edited by CanDB; 09-20-2019 at 03:32 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by CanDB View Post
    As I researched this, I thought about Fran. He was MOBILE!!! And I think you'll agree, a unique QB given his era.



    I think that some us would say that most mobile QBs, back in the day, were not great passers. But nowadays, I see QBs who are complete. Watson and Mahomes seem to have it all, and though young Jackson is more of a runner, he has done his homework, and is already a force. So yes, I believe you can have it all as a QB, including the IQ. There were always be the really good drop back passers, but the complete/athletic QB may be more and more sought out as teams recognize the versatility and adaptability of these young men. And not very easy to game plan against.
    Fran the Man!

    I agree he was definitely unique in his era and while scrambling was his secret weapon, I would also say he was one of the great passers of his time - you don't wind up owning the passing yardage record if you weren't! I remember his scrambling used to drive Viking coach Bud Grant (and Norm Van Brocklin before him) absolutely crazy because things were so different then. The QB stayed in the pocket...period. I used to love watching him run all over the field driving the pass rushers crazy...not unlike John Elway especially early in his career The current day QB that reminds me most of Fran is without question Russell Wilson. Both about 6' and 200 lbs and at their most impressive wouldn't scramble for yards, but to extend the play - of course there's no way I can imagine Fran running that crazy option read that Wilson does, but as you said it was a different era. The fact that Fran had an 18 yr career while scrambling so much in a time when there were no rules protecting a QB from getting pounded says a lot about his toughness.

    Thanks for bringing up this topic, I hadn't thought about my teenage years as a Vikings fan watching Fran and the Purple People Eaters dominate the NFC through the mid 70's...great memories
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis.1960 View Post
    Fran the Man!

    I agree he was definitely unique in his era and while scrambling was his secret weapon, I would also say he was one of the great passers of his time - you don't wind up owning the passing yardage record if you weren't! I remember his scrambling used to drive Viking coach Bud Grant (and Norm Van Brocklin before him) absolutely crazy because things were so different then. The QB stayed in the pocket...period. I used to love watching him run all over the field driving the pass rushers crazy...not unlike John Elway especially early in his career The current day QB that reminds me most of Fran is without question Russell Wilson. Both about 6' and 200 lbs and at their most impressive wouldn't scramble for yards, but to extend the play - of course there's no way I can imagine Fran running that crazy option read that Wilson does, but as you said it was a different era. The fact that Fran had an 18 yr career while scrambling so much in a time when there were no rules protecting a QB from getting pounded says a lot about his toughness.

    Thanks for bringing up this topic, I hadn't thought about my teenage years as a Vikings fan watching Fran and the Purple People Eaters dominate the NFC through the mid 70's...great memories
    We have some ties here. I am very familiar with Fran, and yes, The Purple People Eaters! Being from Winnipeg, we are known as big time Minnesota Viking fans, with plenty of season ticket holders. And Bud Grant is legend here. He was a player and GREAT coach for The Blue Bombers, when CFL football was as good as it gets! Some players played both ways in those days!

    Anyway....do you think the mobile QB is back to stay?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by CanDB View Post
    We have some ties here. I am very familiar with Fran, and yes, The Purple People Eaters! Being from Winnipeg, we are known as big time Minnesota Viking fans, with plenty of season ticket holders. And Bud Grant is legend here. He was a player and GREAT coach for The Blue Bombers, when CFL football was as good as it gets! Some players played both ways in those days!

    Anyway....do you think the mobile QB is back to stay?
    I loved the Vikings! I became a fan at a very early age and remember watching Joe Kapp get the tar beaten out of him in SB IV...oh well. But the memory of turning on the TV and hearing the announcer say, "Welcome to Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington Minnesota" and seeing a field covered in snow or mud or ice still gives me chills...especially when they brought out the flame throwers to thaw out the field! If the Vikings had never moved into that horrible Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome and built an outdoor stadium instead, I'd still be a Vikings fan today. I knew I could never root for a team that played in a dome and on Oct 15, 1984 turned on Monday night football to see the Bronco - Packer blizzard and that's the moment I became a Bronco fan, so all's well that ends well

    So, is the mobile QB back to stay? I think so because it's an extra weapon defensive coordinators have to scheme for, or dedicate a "spy" which takes someone out of pass coverage, which is a big advantage X and O wise for a mobile QB with an accurate arm. I live near Seattle so watch a lot of Seahawk games, and as the years go by have noticed Russell Wilson still runs the read option, but actually keeps the ball and runs less and less. Even so, it's a main feature of their offense so even though he rarely runs anymore, the D has to respect the possibility. Remember what a weapon Elway's mobility was? Without that, we never beat the Oilers in the Drive II playoff masterpiece. Also, with the current QB protection rules being so extreme, a mobile QB is almost like having a running back the defense can't hit too hard or risk a 15 yd personal foul. That said, a mobile QB that has poor accuracy becomes so one dimensional that it cancels out the advantage so I think I would change the statement to, "the mobile QB with an accurate arm is back to stay"
    Last edited by Dennis.1960; 09-20-2019 at 05:37 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis.1960 View Post
    I loved the Vikings! I became a fan at a very early age and remember watching Joe Kapp get the tar beaten out of him in SB IV...oh well. But the memory of turning on the TV and hearing the announcer say, "Welcome to Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington Minnesota" and seeing a field covered in snow or mud or ice still gives me chills...especially when they brought out the flame throwers to thaw out the field! If the Vikings had never moved into that horrible Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome and built an outdoor stadium instead, I'd still be a Vikings fan today. I knew I could never root for a team that played in a dome and on Oct 15, 1984 turned on Monday night football to see the Bronco - Packer blizzard and that's the moment I became a Bronco fan, so all's well that ends well

    So, is the mobile QB back to stay? I think so because it's an extra weapon defensive coordinators have to scheme for, or dedicate a "spy" which takes someone out of pass coverage, which is a big advantage X and O wise for a mobile QB with an accurate arm. I live near Seattle so watch a lot of Seahawk games, and as the years go by have noticed Russell Wilson still runs the read option, but actually keeps the ball and runs less and less. Even so, it's a main feature of their offense so even though he rarely runs anymore, the D has to respect the possibility. Remember what a weapon Elway's mobility was? Without that, we never beat the Oilers in the Drive II playoff masterpiece. Also, with the current QB protection rules being so extreme, a mobile QB is almost like having a running back the defense can't hit too hard or risk a 15 yd personal foul. That said, a mobile QB that has poor accuracy becomes so one dimensional that it cancels out the advantage so I think I would change the statement to, "the mobile QB with an accurate arm is back to stay"
    A bit more about the history you talk about.....that field in Minneapolis (before the dome) made me feel like they were similar to us, because they looked the closest to our city in the middle of winter!

    And it is almost the same memory I have, that night on MNF when the snow came down heavy in Denver, and The Broncos D made things happen! That night made me become more of a Denver fan, and basically converted me long term. And not that Minneapolis isn't close enough to satisfy my winter satisfaction, but that game in Denver made me realize how much it was like another Canadian city - Calgary (though Denver is bigger and warmer). But the snow and The Rockies (also a part of Calgary's scenery) made me love the place even more. I started to become not just a fan of the team, but of the city and state! Beautiful!!

    And I agree, if you can throw and run, and with the rules in place, why not have a quality, athletic QB? And why not mess up DC's around the league. Not to knock all drop back QBs, but a passer who can throw but not motor, is limited, especially if he has a less than stellar Oline. Whereas an elusive player, like Wilson has always been, can buy time, and yes, make yards on the run. And pass!

    But as we both are saying, if that player can not throw accurately, they will not last.
    Last edited by CanDB; 09-20-2019 at 06:45 PM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Butler By'Note View Post
    How do you have a thread talking about mobile QBs over the years and not have Steve Young listed? He was Possibly the greatest dual threat QB in NFL history.

    No he wasn't a true "run first" QB, but he went over 400 yards on the ground 5 times in his career, and was one of the most accurate passers the league had ever seen during his era. From 1992 to 1997 his lowest completion percentage was 66.7%. To put this in perspective this was in an era when there were maybe 1 or 2 QBs (other than Young) who were flirting with 64% completion. And to add more perspective amongst his top peers at the time: Dan Marino went over 64% twice in his entire career. John Elway never got to a 64% completion. Joe Montana was always around 64% but only once got to (surpassed) the 66.7% mark that Young routinely put up.
    Yep. Super outlier. Very unusual talent. But I'm a combination money-ball and Broncos fan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CanDB View Post
    Is that a question?

    If it is, my response is pretty simple. My basis of this study is the numbers, not the individuals. I mentioned a few players, more present day, to support the data. As in, Vick was one, but in the few and far between days of mobile QBs. Talking about who was best is cool, but not really the crux of this thread.

    There were plenty of really good ones, and they were not likely mentioned (ie. Young, Tarkenton). This is about the trends, what style may be more prevalent in future, and the like. And if The Broncos will be playing one, as a starter, in the not too distant future.

    But I will assume it was not a question to me.
    Well done putting in the work, but I'm not really sure what story you're trying to tell here? Are we looking at just straight running QBs? Because those teams don't win much of anything. Or are we looking at QBs that can move around and extend plays with their legs to give themselves a chance to make a play either by running or passing? Because that's very valuable. Much more so than a guy who just has a lot of rushing attempts.

    The more "mobile" a QB tends to be (meaning run first, not a great passer) the more their teams tend to struggle when opposition just contains them in the pocket and dares them to throw. Think of Jackson last year and the Chargers, they just put speed on the field so he couldn't find running lanes and they dared him to pass the ball, and he couldn't. Now to Jackson's credit, early in the season his passing appears to be better this year.

    But to me (and most people) when they talk about mobile QBs you're talking about guys who can make plays with their arm as well as extend plays with their legs, and pick up first downs when the defence gives them lanes. And that's more of the model Lock actually is. If you're thinking that he'll be a guy attempting a bunch of called QB run plays each game I don't think that will happen.

    I get it, it's your study and you looked at a bunch of stuff to prove whatever it is you were proving, but what I saw was you listed a bunch of QBs who never won a Super Bowl, and Brad Johnson.

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