Breakdowns

How Do You Deal With a Struggling QB?

The losses are mounting, there is a struggling quarterback. The offense can’t score. The fan outrage is growing. The quarterback just isn’t getting the job done. What should the team do? 

Longtime NFL coaching veteran Marty Mornhinweg take the helm. He chats with Super Bowl champion Head Coach Dave Wannstedt and former NFL quarterbacks Matt Cassell and Rich Gannon. Altogether they get to the bottom of the question no team wants to ask: how much time do you give a struggling quarterback? 

Drawing From Similar Situations

Mornhinweg starts the discussion by asking Wannstedt about his experience with struggling signal-callers while he was coaching the Chicago Bears. The veteran coach asserts it’s not always talent or injury that is the catalyst for a coach making a change under center. 

He explains, “[coaches] have a strong feeling in their gut, what they want to happen and they’re hoping happens. I know competition sounds good, and it’s great for the media and all that, but deep down in the coaches’ rooms… we always knew who we wanted to be the starter.”

Having a struggling quarterback, or two, is less than ideal. Mornhinweg jumps back in to discuss how reps are distributed during a quarterback competition.

“If you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one,” Mornhinweg said. 

Mornhinweg then goes on to explain something else. He explains how teams, historically, that enter camp—or the regular season—fair without a clear starter at the quarterback position.

Next, Gannon, a former NFL MVP, jumps in to discuss the multitude of teams entering the season with new quarterbacks, new offensive coordinators, and handle business.

Plus, he explains why it’s not always a question of what a new quarterback can handle, but what the other ten players on the offense around him can handle. 

A Struggling Quarterback Needs Proper Support

Continuing with the discussion, the former Raiders quarterback takes an exception. When it comes to the Chicago Bears, they have paired second-year QB Justin Fields with a new (and inexperienced) play caller in Luke Getsy. 

Matt Ryan serves as a good example here for them. Touching on his own time with Norv Turner and the Raiders, Gannon explains learning a new offense can be difficult. Even for the most accomplished and experienced QBs. They may end up appearing as if they are a struggling quarterback versus the latter.

Finally, Wannstedt explains how he felt about Tom Brady as a young QB. He states how NFL legends like Mike Holmgren and Bill Belichick used the same strategy. That strategy was what brought out the best in their superstar quarterbacks. 

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Video

Marvin Lewis Reacts to Ranking of Bengals Defense

The Bengals’ defense took a gigantic step last year in its development. Players like D.J. Reader and Larry Ogunjobi both seem to have skillsets that compliment the outside guys. Hendrickson and Hubbard have a flexibility that allows for defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo to play around with.

The direction of this defense as a whole can point to that Super Bowl run as much as the offense. What Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase did was special last season, don’t discount the defensive effort though. 

The group that is especially fun to see grow this year is the linebacker. This Bengals defense is led by Logan Wilson and Germaine Pratt, that young duo is going to do wonders this year. Late in the Super Bowl, they became a talking point, this year they will for a different reason. The cornerback group has some work to do but they proved to be more than serviceable.

Don’t slouch on the special teams either. The combo of Evan McPherson and Kevin Huber is one of the best in the league.

Keep this in mind though, sometimes the NFL can figure out your offense and find ways to scheme against it. When you have a top defense then the entire league takes notice. This ranking for the Bengals’ defense is well deserved after the season they had. Heading into this year though, they need to maintain the momentum they are on. Part of that momentum will be making sure safety Jessie Bates II is playing to his full potential despite his contract situation. The defense can do that for them even when the offense can’t. 

This ranking for the Cincinnati Bengals defense is deserved. Both on the field and on paper this team has the talent to go out and get them a Super Bowl. Now comes the hard part which is the journey back to it.

Video

Baker Mayfield: Will Limited Reps Make A Difference?

What does it take to get a quarterback ready?

Former NFL players Rich Gannon and Mark Schlereth and former NFL Head Coach Mike Martz discuss the difficulties that the Carolina Panthers and Baker Mayfield could be facing this year thanks to limited training camp reps. Mayfield was acquired by the Carolina Panthers late in the offseason. He is coming into camp and having it be his formal introduction to the team.

The former NFL MVP Rich Gannon discusses the advantages quarterbacks on new teams, such as Matt Ryan and Carson Wentz, have over Mayfield who comes in late. He discusses how they are in much more “fluid situations” due to being there for OTA’s and mini-camps. Gannon adds “the coaches get a better feel for who they (the quarterback) are as well…”.

Gannon also talks about how it is being in this situation and how having so many questions can make the learning curve steeper. Former Pro Bowler Mark Schlereth adds in some notes about the difficulties faced by the entire offensive line with a quarterback who isn’t comfortable in a system yet.

“Indecision to get the play in with 14 or 15 seconds,” Schlereth notes, “we had run up to the line and then snap the ball.” He went on to add offensive linemen can’t “get calls out, change protections, we can’t identify MICs…”.

It can be difficult for all parties involved. Hearing Mark Schlereth’s tone, one can sense the frustration that Carolina may experience.

Rounding things out, Mike Martz discusses how the offensive play caller can do Mayfield a ton of favors by handling different responsibilities. Martz did the same thing for Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner when he was thrust into the starting job in 1999.

Martz discusses how “all we wanted to do was have our quarterback get the ball and get back…we were always very, very specific on where the ball was supposed to go…”. The Rams kept it simple for Warner, Martz adding that they eliminated a lot of the mental stuff stating it “simplifies everything for him…he never called any protections…”.

All three parties have sound advice for the staff and Baker Mayfield in Carolina. Everyone that has been affected by the acquisition of a quarterback provides a unique explanation of the challenges that not only the Panthers face but Mayfield as well. The former Heisman winner has his work cut out for him in Carolina, but as these three point out, this is a situation that can be managed properly.

Play Breakdowns

Coordinator’s Corner: A Great Stafford Read Against Former Team

Today on Coordinator’s Corner, I am going to break down a Matthew Stafford read play against his old team. In this series, I break down some of the best plays and designs from the previous football week and help you to understand why players and coaches come to the decisions they due with different play designs.

My experience comes from being the Chicago Bears’ head coach for two seasons before departing. Other stops in my coaching career include going to the CFL where I was the coach for the Montreal Alouettes. With Montreal, I would coach my way into four Grey Cups and win three of them in the process. Throw into the mix the coaching in both a college National Championship and Super Bowl as well and you can realize I have seen, taught, and learned from the best over my lengthy career. 

Now, as a contributor with The 33rd Team, I am looking at the Los Angeles Rams matchup against the Detroit Lions.

The Breakdown

In this matchup, we see Matthew Stafford make a great read in his first start against his former team. The Lions knew how to scheme against Stafford in this matchup, it was clear early. However, the Rams and Stafford were able to overcome these hurdles thanks to play design and Stafford’s playmaking ability. The throw that he makes here is some arm wizardry that any can and should appreciate. One of the more impressive throws you will see be made in the league this year.

How did this play materialize despite the coverage? How did Stafford make this read? Allow me and my 39 years of experience working with offenses, and quarterbacks specifically, to explain the game in a way not many can as we break down this incredible read and throw by Stafford. 

This is the Coordinator’s Corner: A Stafford Read.

Wade Phillips: Rams' Super Bowl Winning Drive

Wade Phillips: Rams' Super Bowl Winning Drive
  Longtime NFL Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips goes to the film to break down the Rams’ Super Bowl Winning Drive. It was a historic 15-play drive that clinched the Los Angeles Rams’ Super Bowl LVI.  Phillips points out that the Rams’ opponents, the Cincinnati Bengals, were solid against the run all night. […]

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Play Breakdowns

What Will It Take For Malik Willis to be a Successful NFL Quarterback?

Coming out of Liberty in the 2022 NFL Draft, many felt Malik Willis had the traits to be a successful NFL quarterback. Among the quarterbacks in the 2022 Draft, however, Willis was among the most polarizing names. Many analysts viewed him as having the highest ceiling in the class. Many also mentioned he would be a project, as he adjusted to the learning curve from playing at a smaller FBS school to the NFL, while also working on his overall skillset and weaker areas of his game.

So, what will it take for Willis to become a successful NFL quarterback, as he begins his career with the Tennessee Titans? Analyst and Executive Producer of ESPN’s NFL Matchup Greg Cosell offers some scouting of Willis in a conversation he and former NFL General Manager Mike Tannenbaum had with longtime NFL coach Brian Schottenheimer, who helps them break down for The 33rd Team what steps he believes teams should take to develop Willis into a successful NFL quarterback.

Together, the three go over Willis’ biggest selling points: his arm strength and athleticism. They also compare Willis and his development to other QB prospects from Schottenheimer’s career as an NFL offensive coach. Looking at names such as Trevor Lawrence and Phillip Rivers, they discuss different ways Willis could be brought into a team’s system and gain experience in the NFL, as well as how teams can work in different concepts and provide support to Willis early in his career, to play to his strengths and help him find success in his first few games as well as in specific situations, such as third downs.

Specific to Willis’ situation in Tennessee, where the Titans have veteran Ryan Tannehill as their starting QB, they also bring up how Willis can learn behind a veteran at the position, and succeed with more limited reps.

Play Breakdowns

Coordinator’s Corner: Rams Bunch Formation Versus the Giants

Longtime coordinator and former Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman joins The 33rd Team for another installment of Coordinator’s Corner to break down the Rams bunch formation usage. In this series, Trestman breaks down some of the best plays and designs from the previous football week.

Trestman was the Chicago Bears’ head coach for two seasons before departing. His coaching career has several prominent stops including in the CFL where he was the coach for the Montreal Alouettes. With Montreal, Trestman would coach his way into four Grey Cups and win three of them in the process. Throw into the mix the coaching in both a college National Championship and Super Bowl as well. 

Accordingly, Marc Trestman will look at the Los Angeles Rams matchup against the New York Giants in this video. In this game, there is a play where the Rams utilized a bunch formation against the Giants’ man coverage. The play results in a touchdown between Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp but how did it happen exactly? The two have been having a tremendous season to this point. While their relationship plays a big part, the Rams bunch formation specifically is key. This serves as an example of this staff using unique schemes in different situations to take this team to the next level.

How did this play materialize on a 4th and 1? Why did the Rams use this formation? Allow Trestman and his 39 years of experience working with offenses, and quarterbacks specifically, to explain the game in a way not many can. The relationships he has had with his quarterbacks have been a staple of his career. Now get an inside look at what it is like to be in the film room with him and his players.

This is the Coordinator’s Corner: Rams Bunch Formation Versus the Giants.

Play Breakdowns

Coordinator’s Corner: Raiders Touchdown Pass to Kenyan Drake

Today on Coordinator’s Corner, I am going to break down a Las Vegas Raiders touchdown pass from Derek Carr.

In this series, I break down some of the best plays and designs from the previous football week. The goal is to help you to understand why players and coaches come to the decisions they did with different play designs. This play particularly caught my eyes when watching it back.

My experience comes from being the Chicago Bears’ head coach for two seasons before departing. Other stops in my coaching career include going to the CFL, where I coached the Montreal Alouettes. With Montreal, I would coach my way into four Grey Cups and win three of them in the process. Throw into the mix the coaching in both a college National Championship and Super Bowl as well and you can realize I have seen, taught, and learned from the best over my lengthy career. 

Now, as a contributor with The 33rd Team, I am looking at the Las Vegas Raiders as they are taking on the Denver Broncos in Week 6.

The Breakdown

In this game, Derek Carr completes a beautiful wheel route to Running Back Kenyan Drake for a Raiders’ touchdown. At this point in the game, the Raiders were trailing 10-7, so this play specifically changed the momentum of the game completely. The play design here is more than just the nice throw from Carr too, it allowed Carr to have so many options if the play were to break down. That’s something any good NFL play

call should include. 

How did this play materialize as the half ended? Why did the Raiders make this call? Allow me and my 39 years of experience working with offenses to explain. From working with quarterbacks, we can break down this Raiders touchdown and its design. 

This is the Coordinator’s Corner.