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Update January 19, 2014- The loss by the 49ers today, led by their running QB, and the exceptional play of Peyton Manning for the Broncos, supports my thesis, below.
December 9, 2013- By Steven E. Greer, MD
The concept of the modern “running quarterback” arguably started with Tim Tebow at Florida in 2006 (or Vince Young at Texas in 2005). The Gators trounced Ohio State in the 2007 BCS Championship, then won again in the 2008 BCS Championship. Coaches took notice and recruited their own freakish QB athlete. Ohio State recruited 6’6″ Terrelle Pryor, who runs a true 4.3 second 40-yard dash. However, his throwing motion was atrocious, leading some to suggest he should have been moved to wide receiver. After Pryor was hyped to win the Heisman, out of nowhere came Cam Newton, at 6’5″ and fast, to win the BCS Championship for Auburn and the Heisman. Then came Robert Griffin III (RG3) and Johnny Manziel to win the Heisman. This year, Jameis Winston of Florida State and Braxton Miller are/were in the running to win the Heisman and BCS Championship.
That seems to be a great track record for the new position of the running quarterback, but things change quickly in Big-Time football. Defenses have caught on and neutralized the running QB in the NFL, and NCAA defenses are becoming more effective as well.
Over the past weekend, we saw several “running quarterbacks” fail miserable in big games. Ohio State’s Braxton Miller had some big runs, but missed many passes, and the Buckeyes lost to Michigan State, knocking OSU out of the BCS Championship game. On Sunday, OSU alumnus Terrelle Pryor briefly played for The Oakland Raiders, and was benched, once again. In New Orleans, the Carolina Panther’s star running QB, Cam Newton, Heisman Trophy winner, continued his lackluster career, losing to The Saints with a terrible performance. In Maryland, RG3, Heisman Trophy winner, was trounced by The Chiefs, as many are questioning whether his career is over already, only two years after winning the Heisman. In Philadelphia, running quarterback Michael Vick lost his job to a true passer, Nick Foles, and The Eagles won. In New York, the Jets’ attempt at a running QB, Geno Smith, is not working out. (There are many more examples, such as Vince Young and Troy Smith, who are not good enough to make any NFL team now.)
Meanwhile, the best quarterbacks in the NFL are small dudes with sniper rifles for arms. Russell Wilson for Seattle is only 5’10”, but is already one of the top-3 best in the NFL. MVP and Super Bowl champs Aaron Rogers and Drew Brees are also only about 6-feet tall, but super accurate in passing. None of them are great runners.
The running quarterback was a fad. It’s day is done.
What never goes out of style in football is a super accurate rifle of an arm, combined with a bruising running back and offensive line.
In college, Ohio State’s coach Urban Meyer would do well to recruit a great passer, and so would Alabama’s Nick Saban. In the NFL, Washington, Carolina, and many others, need better passers.
Of course, it is easier said than done to find people like Brett Favre or Aaron Rogers. It is a bit like saying basketball teams need 7-foot centers. But every year, there are several great passers overlooked by the scouts because they are not 6’4″. The coaches, scouts, and GM’s need to start looking for passers. Leave the running to the running backs.