When it Comes to QBs in the NFL, Studs are Studs.

| May 14th, 2021

Whether Justin Fields succeeds or fails, Matt Nagy probably isn’t going to have a hell of a lot to do with it. While everybody loves a “QB guru”, fans, media members and NFL teams waste entirely too much time talking about the development of young quarterbacks. It is just as likely that studs will be studs and duds, well, you get the picture.

At least in the modern NFL.

This isn’t your grandfather’s NFL and there isn’t a huge difference in the schemes run by teams. In his discussion with local media, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day referred to his experience in the NFL, even labeling his current scheme an “NFL offense” numerous times. Sure, rookie quarterbacks have to adjust to the speed of the NFL. They have to learn how to read different coverage concepts and adjust protections.

And while that’s all stuff that a good NFL team will help with, some guys just get it.

A narrative has emerged in recent months that Nagy failed to develop Mitch Trubisky. The truth is no one could have develop Trubisky because Trubisky is a bad football player. Bad football players don’t become good. Ryan Pace failed by drafting him to play quarterback in the NFL. Was Trubisky’s inability to read defenses and adjust something we would’ve found out about had he played more collegiate games? Almost certainly. (His inaccuracy downfield was certainly something that one would see if they looked at North Carolina tape.)

Fundamental improvements are fixed in the offseason these days because NFL coaches aren’t allowed as much contact. Mike McCarthy used to run a full-blown QB Camp as part of his offseason program. (Aaron Rodgers even credited it as part of his development.) That can’t happen any more.  Trubisky seemed to acknowledge that he wasn’t getting what he needed from his personal QB coach. Why else would he have changed coaches last offseason?

If we’re going to blame Nagy for not developing Trubisky, why don’t we blame Bruce Arians for whatever happened to Jameis Winston? Surely Sean McVay can’t be trusted with young quarterbacks after failing Jared Goff and why didn’t Boy Genius Kyle Shanahan turn his first hand-picked passer, CJ Beathard into a steal?

Then, if you look at the quarterbacks who have been good. Who do we credit for Derek Carr? Is Pete Carroll the genius behind Russ Wilson?  Is Jason Garrett the reason Dak Prescott became a stud? Shouldn’t Bill O’Brien get another job because of the work he did with Deshaun Watson? Uhhh…no.

There are plenty of examples of stud quarterbacks who became studs despite their surroundings. How many examples are there of quarterbacks who have been bad in one situation then became studs in another? The common answer to that question is Ryan Tannehill, but Tannehill wasn’t actually bad in Miami. He was just Adam Gased. (The Panthers are betting that Sam Darnold, like Tannehill, was also Gased — I wouldn’t be so confident that’s the case.)

Josh Allen aside, most of the quarterbacks who have come into the league since the 2011 CBA have at least shown flashes of being really good early on. We have to understand that there will still be the growing pains we generally accept for other positions. Rookie tight ends, cornerbacks and wide receivers all typically struggle early too.

Fields might be a rare exception because he’s a quarterback entering the league after having already done so many of the things that young quarterbacks struggle with. He ran an NFL offense, read the full field and played with the weight of the world on his shoulders. OSU wasn’t the NFL, but it’s as close as it gets.

If Fields ends up playing as a rookie, Nagy should look at the remedial offense he and Bill Lazor built for Trubisky the second half of last season as the perfect transitional scheme for talented rookie. Because of the QB’s experience at OSU, Fields should be comfortable in that system from day one.

If Fields is a stud, he’ll be a stud. He’ll learn the coverages, he’ll fix whatever mechanical issues that exist and he will adjust to the speed. Judging by what we saw at Ohio State, it should be expected that he does every single one of them.

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