Wanted: Mobile Quarterback with ability to improvise and extend plays.
Hopefully, everybody reading this is a Dallas Cowboys fan. For that matter, a Tony Romo fan too. But, whether you think he’s a Superbowl short of elite or don’t like him at all, you should be able to agree that Tony Romo fits the description above. The fact is, most football people in the NFL not only think Romo fits the description, but epitomizes it. Going one step farther, in today’s NFL with exotic defenses and emphasis on rushing the passer, (not to mention the inability to afford to pay for a dominant offensive line after they pay the QB) they think Tony Romo’s qualities are a necessity.
Look at our division: The NFC East Offenses have morphed from run first, power running games with massive offensive lines, to pass oriented teams with athletic, mobile linemen requiring equally mobile and athletic QBs. The rest of the league, with a few exceptions, is following suit. Of course these Offenses are much more complicated than that,
with Philly’s west coast influences and so on, but the emphasis has clearly been put on the quarterback. More-so now than ever. The argument can even be made that the New York Giants took the next step when Eli Manning became more ‘Romo like’ (meaning: improvising more and extending plays instead of just relying on the play, standing in the pocket and taking the hit).
Not every team in the NFL has gone this direction of course. You need only look over to the AFC to see teams like the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts (though, with Andrew Luck, the QB position will be more athletic than in the past) or the Kansas City Chiefs that still thrive ( OK, KC doesn’t thrive) with pure pocket passers. Some AFC teams actually seem to struggle when they try to mix in mobile quarterbacks. The Denver Broncos are a good example. They are trying to go back to the ‘pocket passer’ by courting Peyton Manning. Even as the NFL intertwines the two conferences and players and coaches jump back and forth between them, the AFC and NFC are still surprisingly different in what they emphasize on offense and defense.
This week, our NFC east rivals, the Washington Redskins mortgaged the next three years to move into the the #2 spot in the draft. Presumably..OK..
Assuredly.. they will draft Robert Griffin III. When talking about RGIII’s abilities, they fall right in line with the rest of the NFC East’s QBs – ie: Tony Romo, Michael Vick – Smart; Strong arm; And (answering the want ad) A mobile quarterback with ability to improvise and extend plays. Isn’t that interesting? Or just telling.
The Redskins bold move is just one example of the changing of the guard thru-out the NFC that shows teams without a franchise QB are looking for ‘Tony Romo’ types to run their offenses. Teams that are sticking with their pocket passers in the NFC, like the St Louis Rams with Sam Bradford, are paying the price with their Franchise QBs injured on the sidelines. When Bradford comes back, he better get mobile. The Minnesota Vikings thought the answer, at least in the interim, was Donovan McNabb. It was a good idea in theory. After all, McNabb was the epitome of the mobile QB for many years for Philly. But McNabb had nothing left in the tank, so they had to throw Christian Ponder in much sooner than they wanted. Ponder is mobile, though, and has shown an ability to improvise and extend plays. Minnesota has also cut two of their older, bigger offensive linemen in an attempt to get the line younger and more mobile. The Green Bay Packers, arguably the best team in the NFC, with their porous offensive line, would be nowhere without Aaron Rodgers’ ability to run for his life.
The point I’m making of all this is two fold. First, its all about the quarterback now. The NFL has been changing the the rules for a while now to create a more Offensive friendly game. To counter act that, Defensive Coordinators are getting more exotic in their schemes and emphasizing the last thing the NFL rule makers are still allowing – sacks. To counter the defensive changes, NFL offenses, particularly in the NFC, are moving towards more mobile QBs. Second, when Tony Romo got his shot back in 2006, part of the reason was that Drew Bledsoe was not mobile enough to keep plays alive long enough for sustained success. Romo showed that if you can duck and move a little, you have a better chance. You also create a more exciting game, which attracts more people, which brings in more money. To be sure, other teams took notice. Its a copy cat league after all.