The RSP NFL Lens: Tom Brady, Josh Rosen and Barenaked Ladies by Mark Schofield


Mark Schofield’s RSP NFL Lens draws a link between Tom Brady’s longevity and an existing talent of Josh Rosen’s that Rosen must further if he seeks sustained success.

It might come as a surprise, or a shock even, for people to find out that I have musical tastes that expand beyond Toto.

My Twitter persona has a certain attachment to arguably the most impressive collection of session musicians ever assembled, but it is true. My musical interests do go beyond blessed rains. And on a Monday evening recently, those tastes brought my wife and me down to the MECU Pavilion (formerly the Pier Six Pavilion) in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, for a night featuring KT Tunstall, Better Than Ezra, and Barenaked Ladies.

College Mark was very excited. Current-day Mark was as well, to be honest.

The show was in a word, energetic. After Tunstall’s set, Better Than Ezra certainly kicked things up a notch, most notably when they launched into a cover of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer,” beginning with lead singer Kevin Griffin chastising a patron in the front row. “Maybe this will get you to put your phone down,” Griffin lamented before launching into the early 1970s classic.

Griffin’s energy was surpassed when the headliners took the stage, as Barenaked Ladies took concertgoers through their entire catalog of music, from new stuff to the classics, such as “One Week,” “Pinch Me,” and “Brian Wilson,” for which they brought Tunstall back on stage. However, as their set wore on, and I found myself sweating profusely during a steamy Baltimore evening just watching them, a few things struck me.

Both Better Than Ezra and Barenaked Ladies mark 30 years together this year. A very notable feat (surpassed oddly enough by Tesla and Def Leppard who marked 40 years together last year, as my wife and I learned when we saw them in concert along with Poison, but I digress).

But even in the sweltering heat, both groups seemed to just love the moment. The art of performing. Doing what they love, for fun. During their portion of the show, Barenaked Ladies took patrons through an array of cover songs, playing music ranging from “Psycho” from Post Malone to “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen. They just seemed to love what they do, and they have, for going on three decades.

As this unfolded, my mind began to wander. As a New England Patriots fan, and the host of Locked On Patriots, one of the questions I am asked on every podcast, every radio hit, or even by friends and family, is this:

“How much longer can Tom Brady really play?”

As I watched that show last night, I couldn’t help but think of Brady, who has also been at his craft for going on three decades and continues playing at such a high level. While the jokes about avocado ice cream, pliability and his personal trainer are low-hanging fruit, there is one thing that Brady does, one trait that he displays, that has probably contributed the most to his longevity.

Mobility.

It’s a strange trait to point to, as few would consider Brady to be what most consider “mobile.” But as with many things in life, there’s more than one way to view mobility in the pocket.

Here is one of my favorite plays from Brady this past season:

Los Angeles Chargers sport a stout pass rush, thanks to the combination of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. But on this play Brady gets the better of them, thanks to a mix of feel and footwork. It is not an overly athletic play, but his ability to step up, evade pressure that he feels coming from the backside, and deliver is picture-perfect.

He also has the presence of mind to make one last peek backward, to find Bosa, before wriggling around him one more time to release the pass to James White. Brady does this so often, and if you start to tally all these “near-sacks” that he avoids, you can build out the formula to his longevity. If these “near-sacks” were hits, his career might take a different arc.

Which brings us to Josh Rosen.

It is easy to point to Brady to highlight some of his elite traits, it is an exercise that I’m fairly certain my son or daughter could engage in, just from listening to Daddy giggle during a few Patriots games. But the craft of evaluation and the idea behind the RSP NFL Lens series is to extrapolate NFL action to the college game as a means of looking into the future of current college QBs.

One of the knocks against Rosen was a perceived lack of mobility. In my defense of the UCLA signal-caller this past draft season, I made the similar argument that I advanced above in support of Brady’s mobility. It is true, Rosen is not winning a footrace against the Lamar Jacksons of the world, but to look at him and come away with a belief that he lacks the mobility to function in the NFL is to ignore the body of work advanced by a quarterback that Rosen should look to emulate:

This is a play from 2016 against Stanford, late in the game, where Rosen does just enough to buy himself some time. Solomon Thomas is bearing down on him, but the QB slides ever so slightly to his right, away from the defensive end, to create space for the throw.

Here’s an even better example:

The reason I love this play is two-fold. You do not anticipate Rosen making a lot of “catch and release” play outside of the pocket when he gets to the NFL. So what is on display here is more of his natural footwork when placed in an unfamiliar position. While taking this throw on the trick play Rosen is still able to slide around the unblocked defender and make a throw with velocity.

Overly athletic? Perhaps not. Mobility for the NFL? Check.

Longevity is something to be cherished and appreciated, both in music as well as playing the quarterback position. While Better Than Ezra and Barenaked Ladies can perhaps point to energy and their love of performing as the engine behind their longevity, for Tom Brady, in my opinion, it is his mobility and feel for the pocket. If Josh Rosen is going to match that kind of longevity, his path likely follows in Brady’s footsteps, figuratively and to an extent, literally.

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Categories: 2018 NFL Draft, Mark Schofield, Matt Waldman, Players, Quarterback, The NFL LensTags: , , , , ,

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