10 Rules for Having a Mobile Quarterback

With the current mobile, athletic, dynamic and creative style of quarterback play now dominating the NFL landscape, it is a good time to review the 10 rules of coaching the mobile quarterback. These players have the gut instinct, skill and ability to “run and gun,” such as Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, Deshaun Watson, Anthony Richardson, Josh Allen, Russell Wilson, Desmond Ridder, Justin Herbert, Trevor Lawrence, Geno Smith, Justin Fields and many more. I consider 19 of the NFL’s 32 starting quarterbacks to be mobile types. 

A mobile style of quarterback play gives teams obvious benefits if they are coached and utilized correctly.

One example is the probability of converting many third downs per game, which equals more points, ball control and, typically, more wins. On Sunday, we saw Mahomes and Jackson pick up critical first downs with their mobility when ahead late in the fourth quarter to ice the game.

Another example is the big-play possibilities when the quarterback moves — we see these big plays multiple times each weekend at every level (NFL, college and high school). 

Here are 10 rules mobile quarterbacks should follow. 

10 Rules for Mobile QBs

1. Play the Quarterback Position First

Get through the progression and reads first. Run the play, trust the play.

2. Move and/or Escape Only When Forced

Otherwise, refer to rule No. 1.

3. When Forced to Move … MOVE!

Be decisive, don’t hesitate, don’t tiptoe around, don’t move casually. GO! Turn it loose. Utilize your mobility, speed, special skills and gut instinct. 

4. Threaten to Run or Pass Threat When Moving

When moving fast, always keep your eyes up. Continue to be a passer when moving, and press the line of scrimmage when possible. Keep both run/pass options available to create big-play possibilities. 

5. When Deciding to Pass When Moving, Finish

Finish the play with a strong, accurate throw.

6. “Throw Away” is No. 1 Progression on the Move

It’s difficult to overcome taking too many big-yardage sacks. Once you clear — aka have some air — then you can rock ‘n’ roll. 

7. If You Find Yourself Outside the Numbers, Get Up and Out

That means get as many yards as possible and clearly get out of bounds without lollygagging — bad things happen near or on the sideline when a quarterback lollygags.

When the decision to run is made, and you find yourself inside the numbers, get the chunk and get down.

Stay with rule No. 7 unless, of course, you think you can score — only when you’re in a 1-on-1 situation and can take advantage of your speed and dynamic running ability. If you’re trapped or cornered (as in, two or more defenders have tight angles), get up and out or get down. 

8. Always Focus on Ball Security 

Inside the pocket, outside the pocket and on the move, ball security wins games. Some quarterbacks simply take care of the football better than others — be the quarterback who takes care of the ball. It’s important to have possession of the ball after every offensive play. 

9. Minimize the “Splatter” Hits

The quarterback’s responsibility and duty to his teammates is to minimize the splatter hits when on the run. Throw the ball away one step quicker than you think you need to. Get up and out or get down one step quicker than you think you need to. Do you want to keep playing, or do you want to be in the tent or the locker room?

10. Drill What Occurs When the Quarterback Moves 

Emphasize and practice with discipline — individually, as a unit and as a team. The results will be outstanding.

Marty Mornhinweg is a former head coach of the Detroit Lions and a longtime NFL offensive assistant. He was the quarterbacks coach on the 1996 Green Bay Packers team that won Super Bowl XXXI. Follow him on Twitter at @MartyMornhinweg.

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