In July, Bill Polian said there was a “crying need” for the NFL to have a developmental league and cited the young quarterbacks coming into the league as players who were in particular need of further refinement before they would be ready to play in the league.
Judging from an interesting and thorough piece by Kevin Clark in the Wall Street Journal, Polian has plenty of company when it comes to concerns about the state of the quarterback position. Clark spoke to numerous NFL coaches and executives about quarterbacks entering the league and the consensus is that they aren’t coming with the necessary skills.
Bills General Manager Doug Whaley said he’s “a little nervous about the long-term future of this game” because he’s interviewing prospects who don’t know the difference between Cover-2 and Cover-3 looks and Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton says he has to teach “the absolute basics.” The uptempo, spread offenses that have taken over college football lead to simplified defenses, leaving Jets quarterback Bryce Petty to say he left Baylor without ever having to decipher different fronts, coverages or even who the “mike” was on defense.
“It’s doomsday if we don’t adapt and evolve,” Rams General Manager Les Snead said. “It’s on us to adapt, I don’t think any of us want this thing to crash.”
Snead, Browns General Manager Ray Farmer and others discuss the need to figure out a way to minimize the problems caused by these deficiencies in their quarterbacks with Snead comparing it to the way Cover-2 schemes minimized the need to find cornerbacks who excelled in man-to-man coverage. It makes sense that they’d view the issue that way rather than follow Polian’s suggestion about a developmental league because coaches and executives might not have jobs by the time the developmental prospect comes on line, but the NFL game is currently set up to favor quarterbacks so it doesn’t make much sense to run in the other direction if long-term success is your goal.
As long as the league outsources that work to the college level there are always going to be things that don’t mesh with the NFL style because college coaches have the same concerns about holding onto their jobs as their professional counterparts. A robust commitment to developing players would close some of that gap and widen the pool of quarterbacks who could have a shot in the league, but no such commitment has been made despite the concerns expressed by several personnel decision makers around the league.