Life on the field happens fast for a quarterback—even for those fortunate enough to have the game slow down for them.
When it comes to analyzing quarterback prospects, you can’t avoid a conversation about mechanics. There are so many physical techniques involved with throwing the football, it can be hard to keep up with them all and how they help or hurt the player.
If it’s not footwork of the drop, it’s the release motion of the arm. If it’s not the hip rotation, bend of the front leg. If it’s not the shoulders, it’s the opening of the chest.
Wonder why the smallest details matter so much to quarterbacking? Tap your foot twice.
Whether you know it or not, that’s the answer.
Listen to this song and tap your feet to every beat of the high hat.
Do it for as long as you need to memorize the tempo.
Two beats of that high hat were the difference between a long completion for Notre Dame and a pick-six for Stanford in a game this fall. It’s the span of time between when DeShone Kizer should have thrown the ball and when he actually released it.
It’s how fast a window of opportunity can open and close for a quarterback. And it’s why the smallest details that change in a defensive alignment just before and immediately after the snap—often within the first two steps of a drop—require an instant reaction that’s technically sound.
A quarterback has to develop instant recognition and reaction to what he sees. If he waits too long—even two quick beats of the high hat—he didn’t see the situation clearly enough to act.
Even when he does, his technique can’t slow down his reaction time or inhibit the precision of that reaction. During the play below, Kizer sees the receiver he wants to target at the right time but waits to release the ball for two beats.
There must be no doubt. A top passer like Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees will even alter his drop depth or pace when he reads the post-snap opening so he can act on it. Kizer didn’t need to do anything but throw the ball on-time.
These two beats can also be the difference between a completion and a sack-fumble, an easy TD or an overthrown target, a pivotal victory and a season-ending defeat. Starting NFL quarterbacks see the field, top passers act with little hesitation.
Kizer sees the right things. The question is whether he’ll develop the knowledge and confidence to act on them.
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