I like Vernon Adams, Jr. as a quarterback. Matt covered Adams’ aptitude at the position that is a compelling analysis. His game is not for everyone. He has plenty to clean up in his overall game. He also has to answer durability and size questions. I see a player whose footwork, poise and play-making in the pocket is poetic.
Not poetic as in beautiful or artistic. More in the cunning and chemistry. Initially when I watched Adams I likened his movement to that of a seasoned welterweight boxer whose movement sets up his offense. Counter steps, jab steps and dips of the shoulder are definitely a part of his arsenal.
There’s is more to his pocket presence than that. He demonstrates an understanding that is uncanny. I believe it’s best described in part of Rudyard Kipling’s poem The Law of the Jungle:
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf,
and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.
My head coach in junior college recited this to us often on game day. As a defensive player it makes sense. Swarm to the football in numbers, with emotion. On offense it’s a little more abstract. Offensive production hinges on winning one on one match-ups across the board, making it easier for elite skill players to go off on their own and freestyle.
Vernon Adams, Jr. understands the two lines above completely. The fluid solutions he creates in the pocket to handle pressure come directly from his trust in the “pack”, his offensive line. He also knows he can make his line better, or at least hide weaknesses as well. His offensive line understands this as well. It creates a unique pressure on a defense that erodes its confidence. Adams is able to regularly bide his time waiting for his receivers to uncover while keeping the integrity of the pocket:
Adams’ strength is his offensive line yet he’s also the strength of his line. Defenses are cautious to pressure for fear of his mobility although his mobility is what enables him to keep his eyes downfield and exploit coverage.
This is a quarterback who uses his linemen as a platform to manipulate defenses with his eyes and legs. He knows when to use each tool to accomplish the needed task.
One common trait among young quarterbacks is indecisiveness, especially in the red zone. Adams has lapses, but more often than not his poise shines through because he forces the defense to tip its hand by not compromising the honor of the pocket.
It’s hard to cover receivers when you have a quarterback who creates time by staying alive in the pocket and choosing the windows to attack. Adams has the arm, the accuracy and the confidence to go toe to toe with a defense.
There is a lot of sizzle in Adams’ pocket presence. There’s also prime steak to his game. He has a grasp of when to take what the defense gives him and delegate the play making to someone else.
Because of his physical tools Adams will be typecast or compared to ‘similar’ quarterbacks over the past few seasons. He’s a dynamic playmaker not strictly in the sense of his ability, but what he can do within an offense. He can extend plays with his legs.
Or he can extend plays with his mind.
Success as a professional athlete stems from improving upon your strengths and shoring up your weaknesses. Playing time is earned with regular displays of competence. Vernon Adams, Jr. is capable and adept at pulling the strings from the pocket. The team that bets on his development and gives him the tools to grow may have found a long term solution at their quarterback solution.
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