Production levels of young QBs on the rise in the NFL

  • Welcome to America's Finest Sports Forum and Podcast!

    afsportsforum.com is one of the largest online communities covering San Diego sports. We host a regular podcast during the major seasons. You are currently viewing our community forums as a guest user.

    Sign Up or

    Having an account grants you additional privileges, such as creating and participating in discussions. Furthermore, we hide most of the ads once you register as a member!

Concudan

Still Chargin
Staff member
Administrator
Mar 5, 2006
56,322
3,757
350
I have been intrigued by the play of the young Quarterbacks (QB) in the National Football League (NFL) this season. It seems to me that younger QBs are playing at starting level than before. There are several reasons for this, some of which I will discuss below.

First of all, when I looked at the QB stats for this season, I quickly realized that I wanted to look at the QBs with more than 50 passes on the season. This unfortunately drops out players such as New Orleans’ Drew Brees. I then looked at the top 30 position in the stats listing (stats from NFL.com). I did not pay attention to the team’s win/loss record as I feel the QB is given too much credit or blame for those in a team sport. I focused mainly on the QB’s passing percentage and rating. I know that other things like interceptions, sacks etc. could influence the numbers, but that is perhaps a deeper dive than I am willing to take on a lunch break…

Rules; (AKA, play nice with the fluffy soft QB)

First of all, there is there have been a lot of rule changes meant to protect the QB. Now, it can be argued that the rule changes of late have given an unfair advantage to the QB, and offense in general. But is that the actual case?

In the 80’s for instance there were a number of rules which gave the QB an advantage they do not have right now for instance:

In 1980 the NFL outlawed chop blocks by the Tight Ends (TE) on passing plays. This was in large part to try and minimize the knee injuries to Defensive Linemen (DL), who prior to this could be hit at the side of the kneed when already engaged with an offensive Linemen (OL) during a pass rush.

In 1981, the NFL ruled out the use of foreign materials (e.g. stickum) on the hands, body, or uniform to gain a competitive advantage. A QB in the late 70’s and early 80’s just had to throw the ball up and a receiver or tight end could catch the ball by having it hit their forearm covered in stickum. In fact, some of the Raiders players of old bragged about making that exact catch. This rule removed a huge advantage for the offenses.

In 1981, they also made it illegal for the interior OL to chop block the defender while they were engaged in a block. This expanded the 1980 rule to help protect the knees of the DL.

In 1983, the league allowed initial contact on pass interference. The D could now jam the receiver at the line of scrimmage (LOS).

In 1987, the league again expanded the chop block rule to include any offensive player from making contact with the defender’s thigh or lower, while they are engaged with another player during passing plays.

The receivers can now be forced out of bounds while making a catch by the defenders. This is no longer a catch, where as in the past it was… though one could argue that the NFL still has not leaned to consistently spell catch, let alone judge when one has or has not occurred.

The new rule implemented recently to protect the QB, where a defensive player cannot drive them to the ground, or depending on who the QB is, touch them, or be within a few feet of their presence (*cough* Brady *cough*) has perhaps slowed defenders down from getting to the QB. It definitely has rewarded the offense on a number of plays, giving them 15-yard advances rather than lost yards due to a sack.

That said, the rules seem to be a wash. The past was a rougher game. Heck the games in the 1970’s was closer to gladiatorial blood sport compared to the game today. However, it is a give an take. I do not see the rules as being the sole reason the young QBs in the league today are performing at an arguably higher level than many young QBs of the recent past.

Now one could argue that the fear for the offenses going across the middle has been greatly reduced, with recent rule changes. Also having a real running game can greatly affect the effectiveness of the young QB. In recent years many teams use more of a short passing game to provide the run threat, coupling less running with the short game to keep defenses from focusing solely on pass rushing and attacking the QB.

College Systems (Spread them out or snap the wishbone)

Now I will be the first to admit that I know colleges play football. There my interest and expertise end. So, while I am able to consider the possibility that colleges can have an impact on generating pro-level ready QBs, I can’t put that much weight behind the argument.

So, I lean on my friend Ray, who has forgotten more about collegiate level football than I will ever know.

I started by asking Ray, if he knew how many colleges now ran a pro-style system. My Google search had offered the results of ‘Many’ and ‘Quite a few’. Not really what I would rely upon as a definitive answer. Ray’s response was ‘googlesque’ due to the poorly worded query I provided… “It's a pretty good amount. Although most run a spread. A few run the wishbone.” Ray responded.

Ray went on to explain that a pro-style system would most likely employ a tight end in the spread system. Getting closer. Ray also indicated that the spread system would have the Wide Receivers (WR) in all the time on offensive downs. That would be what I would expect to see in most non-gimmick pro-style offenses, so this makes sense. Therefore, I might conclude that if a QB plays collegiate ball in that style offense, it would better prepare them for the NFL.

Ray gave some examples of college style play to help me get an understanding behind the broad question I was asking, that being “I am looking at the number of young QBs who are performing well. I am wondering if it is the college system they come from, or better football genes, team around them or all the above?” He indicated that “Notre Dame runs a pro-style offense. They are the best at developing TEs.” As well as “Whereas Oklahoma runs a spread/air raid offense.”

Ray also provided “Well we see already that the QB of the future and now is the Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield, (who are) mobile type, that can run the RPO. Run pass option at times. Mobility is key as most of these o-lines are about pass blocking more that run blocking. That's the reason why San Diego State University (SDSU-Aztecs) switched to a spread from your traditional I-formation. They need to be able to recruit good passing HS QBs who are mostly running the spread.” He also added for clarity that “There will still be some potential great pocket passers coming out of college like Georgia's Jake Fromm.

So, if colleges are playing styles of football that encourage passing offenses, then one could argue that QBs are getting pro-style offense experience earlier than in the past.

Is it clear this is why in 2019 that a number of young passers, who have been either pegged to start or thrust into the role by injuries to the starting QB could have been aided by collegiate experience? As in many things that is perhaps not the whole answer.

Ray indicated finally that in regards to why today's collegiate level schemes might be turning out more pro-level ready QBs? “It's been happening the last few years that the NFL is embracing the college game. More offensively oriented. So, the transition is earlier as the schemes are familiar.

Current Results (Who is where on the stats listing?)

As I mentioned above, I looked at the QBs who had more than 50 passes in the NFL 2019 season. I also focused on the passer percentage of completions and Quarterback Ratings (QBR), according to the stats provides by NFL.com.

For percentage I chose that because accuracy is an important factor for a QB. Now it can be argued that a great receiver can make a good QB look great… or even a great OL can boost a QBs production. Valid arguments, but we have to look at what we have. There are cases of young QBs not making the right reads, and not making plays they should even with great WRs and OLs.

Looking at the top 30 QBs listed on the percentage sorted list, there are 9 of the 19 (who meet the criteria) listed are still in the first 5 years of their career. An interesting note is there are other QBs, who while in the league longer than 5 years have not had more than a few years of playing experience. A player who exemplifies this is San Francisco’s Garoppolo, who thought in his 6th season has only played in 26 games prior to the 2019 season.

There is little debate as to whether or not the pro-level game is faster than the collegiate level game. So, I would argue that for a young QB to show accuracy at the pro-level, especially repeatedly, signifies that they are adjusted to the type of play. This alone could help them be more successful in transitioning from the College QB position to the Pro QB position.

The list below identifies the 19 players who meet the criteria and are in the top 30 of the list:

Percentage:

1 - Derek Carr, OAK, CP 73.3, ATT 161, 6th season

2 - Chase Daniel, CHI, CP 73.3, ATT 60, 11th season

3 - Russle Wilson, SEA, CP 73.1, ATT 156, 8th season

4 - Matt Ryan, ATL, CP 70.3, ATT 222, 12th season

5 - Teddy Bridgewater, NO, CP 70.2, ATT 121, 6th season

6 - Dak Prescott, DAL, CP 69.6, ATT 171, 4th season

7 - Deshaun Watson, HOU, CP 69.2, ATT 159, 3rd season

8 - Jimmy Garoppolo, SF, CP 69.0, ATT 113, 6th season* (26 games before this season)

9 - Philip Rivers, LAC, CP 68.6, ATT 194, 16th season

10 - Kirk Cousins, MIN, CP 68.3, ATT 126, 8th season

11 - Case Keenum, WAS, CP 68.1, ATT 135, 7th season

12 - Mason Rudolph, PIT, CP 67.0, ATT 94, 2nd season

13 - Kyle Allen, CAR, CP 66.7, ATT 90, 2nd season

14 - Joe Flacco, DEN, CP 66.7, ATT 168, 12th season

15 - Gardner Minshew, JAX, CP 66.7, ATT 162, 1st season

16 - Patrick Mahomes, KC, CP 65.6, ATT 195, 3rd season

17 - Lamar Jackson, BAL, CP 65.4, ATT 162, 2nd season

18 - Mitchell Trubisky, CHI, CP 65.1, ATT 106, 3rd season

19 - Jacoby Brissett, IND, CP 64.7, ATT 167, 4th season



Looking at QBR, 16 out of 21 of the QBs in this list were also in the percentage list. 11 of those listed are still in the first 5 years of their career. So it is standing to the tell of the tape, that for this young 2019 season… thus far young QBs are performing at a high level.

Quarterback Rating:

1 - Russell Wilson, SEA, RATE 126.3, 8th season

2 - Deshaun Watson, HOU, RATE 115.9, ATT 159, 3rd season

3 - Patrick Mahomes, KC, RATE 114.7, ATT 195, 3rd season

4 - Kyle Allen, CAR, RATE 107.4, ATT 90, 2nd season

5 - Dak Prescott, DAL, RATE 106.0, ATT 171, 4th season

6 - Gardner Minshew, JAX, RATE 105.6, ATT 162, 1st season

7 - Marcus Mariota, TEN, RATE 103.0, ATT 141, 5th season

8 - Mathew Stafford, DET, RATE 102.6, 11th season

9 - Mason Rudolph, PIT, RATE 102.5, ATT 94, 2nd season

10 - Kirk Cousins, MIN, RATE 100.0, ATT 126, 8th season

11 - Teddy Bridgewater, NO, RATE 99.5, ATT 121, 6th season

12 - Tom Brady, NE, RATE 99.4, ATT 187, 20th season

13 - Jimmy Garoppolo, SF, RATE 99.4, ATT 113, 6th season

14 - Lamar Jackson, BAL, RATE 99.1, ATT 162, 2nd season

15 - Jameis Winston, TB, RATE 97.2, ATT 166, 5th season

16 - Derek Carr, OAK, RATE 96.7, ATT 161, 6th season

17 - Chase Daniel, CHI, RATE 95.6, ATT 60, 11th season

18 - Matt Ryan, ATL, Rate 95.1, ATT 222, 12th season

19 - Jacoby Brissett, IND, RATE 94.9, ATT 167, 4th season

20 - Carson Wentz, PHI, RATE 94.2, ATT 174, 4th season

21 - Philip Rivers, LAC, RATE 94.1, ATT 194, 16th season



Players such a Patrick Mahomes, Kyle Allen, Dak Prescott, Gardner Minshew, Mason Rudolph, Lamar Jackson, and Jacoby Brissette are playing at outstanding levels so far. For players like Mahomes, Jackson and Brissette it can be argued they are getting better as they get more experience.

Maybe it was just a good few draft classes, but I tend to think that the product of young players at the QB position is improving. This means good things for the NFL, CFL and other pro-leagues who will need to keep fresh blood infusing into the league in order to maintain interest and bring new fans in.

Standouts:

Dak Prescott
, percentage #6, QBR #5. Again, this in not weighing in wins or losses, or even who is around him. Dak, like him or not, is playing at a high level this season. One could argue that he is going to make Jerry Jones make a tough decision in the upcoming off season. To pay Dak, who is in the 4th season of his rookie contract, or run the risk of Dak taking the road of Melvin Gordon, of the Chargers who held out in the beginning of his 5th season to try (unsuccessfully) to force a new contract.

Deshaun Watson, the young Houston QB is performing at a high level. Percentage he is listed in our list at #7, and # 2 on the QBR. Last season he maintained a percentage of 68.3, and a QBR of 103.1. Young players like Watson keep their team in the off-season discussions, and maintain the sugar plums of playoff possibilities dancing in the heads of the Houston fan base.

Mason Rudolph, Rudolph was forced into action when Big Ben injured his throwing elbow. In his last game he suffered a concussion and it remains to be seen how many games he will be out for. In our lists he ranks #12 in percentage, and #9 in QBR. It is always nice when a starting QB goes down, that a young QB can rise to the challenge. Let’s not forget, that is how Tom Brady came about. Thrust into the starting role when Drew Bledsoe went down with a knee injury, and he hasn’t relinquished the starting job since (other than a few games for injuries).

Kyle Allen, to say Allen is an unknown is an understatement. Heck even NFL.com has him listed as a 1st year player, even though he was on the team in 2018. Allen got the start for Cam Newton, who suffered a foot injury. Though he has thrown interceptions, and fumbled the ball (as young players do) he is listed on the percentage list as #13, and #4 on QBR. Under Allen, the Carolina Panthers have fought hard and managed 3 wins.

Gardner Minshew, ‘The Stache’ has taken Jacksonville by storm. Recognized for his resemblance to Uncle Rico, of the Napoleon Dynamite movie. When Nick Foles, the staring QB for the Jaguars was knocked out of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Minshew was forced into the game. Since starting the Jaguars are 2-2, but Minshew sits at #15 for percentage and #6 for QBR.

Patrick Mahomes, Ok… Lets face it. This kid is a Cyborg. He makes plays no QB has any business making, and does it while making it so hard to dislike him! I mean I am a fan of a divisional rival and I can’t even bring myself to have a healthy loathing for the kid! Just isn’t fair! He is fun to watch at QB. He throws balls that are tight spirals, on target without planting his feet. He is mobile and accurate. He has speedy players around him. He ranks 16th on the percentage list and 3rd on the QBR.



Does looking at 5 weeks into the young season mean these young players will perform at this level the rest of the way to the end of the season? No. Does it mean they will perform at this level in seasons to come? No. But I am not sure I can name another time when so many young players at the QB position played at such a high level before.

If your team has one of these young players you have reason for optimism. The NFL as a whole should be optimistic, because a number of young players performing at high levels is good for the league, indicating that there are exciting games and competition to come when the ‘old guard’ hang up their cleats.
 
  • Like
Reactions: RamAirVA and SDRay

Faded Blues

BoltTalker
Feb 10, 2018
732
202
120
47
Kids who want to be qbs train year round nowadays. They Have off season qb coaches. They play 7 on 7. The eat and train better.

high schools run pro offenses nowadays so by the time qbs get to the pros they are ready start right away.
 

Fender57

BoltTalker
Sep 7, 2008
4,300
951
320
Kids who want to be qbs train year round nowadays. They Have off season qb coaches. They play 7 on 7. The eat and train better.

high schools run pro offenses nowadays so by the time qbs get to the pros they are ready start right away.
As an aside to this, there is this QB guru who charges up the wazoo to train kids to be QBs. I guess he must be good, Joe Montana took his kid to this guy.
 

Harryo the K

Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2017
4,888
783
300
69
So the last two young quarterbacks (3rd season) who made the Super Bowl, Carson Wentz and Jared Goff,
did not make the list? What does that mean?
 

Harryo the K

Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2017
4,888
783
300
69
To be fair, Wentz did not make the Super Bowl.
2017 He had a strong start which had the Eagles at an 11–2 record at the time he went down with an injury.
He was 2nd in the NFL in touchdown passes with 33, as well a MVP favorite.
He made the SuperBowl with the Eagles and has a SB ring. Stats for three years...
TD–INT:80–30
Passing yards:11,304
Passer rating:92.7
 

Fender57

BoltTalker
Sep 7, 2008
4,300
951
320
2017 He had a strong start which had the Eagles at an 11–2 record at the time he went down with an injury.
He was 2nd in the NFL in touchdown passes with 33, as well a MVP favorite.
He made the SuperBowl with the Eagles and has a SB ring. Stats for three years...
TD–INT:80–30
Passing yards:11,304
Passer rating:92.7
Sure, he stood on the sideline but he wasn’t in it.
 

Gill Man

Inaugural San Diego Charger Fan Since 1962 FUDEAN
Staff member
Moderator
Sep 1, 2017
7,574
1,370
320
Good stuff......that article was full of detail. Agree it bodes well for the NFL that they can replenish the old guard at QB more quickly now. We'll see how it holds up but it sure seems like a lot of very young talent is producing out of the gate rather than having to sit for 2-3 years as an understudy holding a clipboard.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Concudan

Concudan

Still Chargin
Staff member
Administrator
Mar 5, 2006
56,322
3,757
350
Good stuff......that article was full of detail. Agree it bodes well for the NFL that they can replenish the old guard at QB more quickly now. We'll see how it holds up but it sure seems like a lot of very young talent is producing out of the gate rather than having to sit for 2-3 years as an understudy holding a clipboard.
That is exactly what made me start looking at this. In the past it seemed a few QBs could start right away, but many would have to earn behind another (like Rivers did) then be productive.