The Eyes of a Quarterback (the most important part to make a successful quarterback)
As we can search google, we can find endless articles of the philosophy for a quarterback. From drills, mechanics, practice tools, equipment etc, but how does all this start out? Most of the time we pick out what we want in a quarterback by just looking at things like arm strength, ability, and further physical attributes. While all those are equally important, I would encourage you to read Coach Mike Leach “Swing Your Sword” book and especially his chapter on quarterbacks. Surprisingly arm strength and others are near the bottom of his top 5, but leadership and decision making abilities are basically #1 and 2. Why would that be? Well the great quarterbacks of our time have all possessed some of these other attributes, but all have been great leaders and decision makers.
I am not sure if you are familiar with the Wonderlific Personnel Test, but it is the cognitive processing ability test that is required for all NFL draftee’s to take. It is 50 logic questions in 12 minutes, and you are probably wondering what in the world would these top tier athletes taking a cognitive test, and how could this have any bearing on their draft status and their ability to play football? These are world class football players, the best of the best. Well google search the test and look at the test scores, and process the high scorers and the lower ones also. In the NFL you cannot get by on athletic ability alone, you have to process logic very fast and make the quickest decision.
The eyes of the quarterback have a distinct purpose in the performance of the quarterback, because it is what sends the information to our brain (the processor) to create the action. The decision making ability is what makes an athlete great at what he does, because it allows his athletic ability to perform at their highest possible rate. Every coach has been around players with extremely athletic abilities, but can never “get it,” or get a feel for the game. And we all scratch our heads.
The Input that must be processed:
if a quarterback can process this, 70% of the time the play will end in the right decision.
I like for my quarterbacks to identify the concept, and ask themselves 1. who has the vertical? 1A. Does coverage have this taken away pre-snap? If so, then 2. How are they handling the underneath? Identify the flat player. 3. Is there any sign of blitz away from the concept/protection? If so who is open now?
I was recently at the University of Georgia coaches clinic, and took away a great piece of information. A.P.E. is the last 3 letters of an acronymn that their OC uses.
Aggressive: the shot route in the concept
Progression : Snap the ball work through progression
Execute: Get the ball to the right man
By giving the brain this input, I have given enough information to react to what I see, and make a decision. We have sped up the brains processing ability to wiping away almost all the variables. I have identified the “capping” ability of the defensive secondary, the underneath structure of the triangle, and pressure ability of the defense.
If you think in terms of pictures this is “painting a picture” for the brain to digest to the decision making of our muscles and triggers. Quarterbacks who hold on to the ball too long, is simply because they did not digest enough for the brain to make a decision, or the picture was incomplete. The Pre-Snap Process is the most important time in a Quarterbacks potential for success.
I have always said your stomach may tell your hungry, but that does not make you get up and fix food, it takes a decision. There has to be a process. 90% of every plays execution will be determined pre-snap. Whether it is the coach calling the plays or a player making decisions. Playing quarterback is taking the reactions of a point guard and lead off hitter and rolling them into one player. The thinking happens that causes the action from the processed picture.
This all happens in the Pre-Snap Process. One of the main reasons no-huddle hurry up was invented was not to just run to 100 plays. It was to stress the defense to have to call quicker, tip their hand, and allow the offense a distinct PRE-SNAP advantage. I want my team to line up fast as possible, but that does not mean to just run a play. I want to line up fast to keep the defense in limited calls, and the most important is to allow the quarterback a longer amount of time to scan the field, and process the pre-snap picture. Remember this the 90% part of your success rate. Lining up quicker helps a quarterback tremendously if he takes advantage of the pre-snap process. In my book I go into extensive detail about the Slow Process, and detail it step by step. I also go through the 3 types of vision that is proven to make any athlete dominant, and go into detail of how it works inside the play of the quarterback position.
Always remember when things are breaking down for the most part the eyes are the source.