Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room examines 2019 NFL Draft quarterback prospect, Jarrett Stidham’s timing and feel from the pocket.
Playing from the pocket is like playing the piano. A quarterback must read and act on multiple levels of the field in the way a piano player is often reading two staves of music. Reading coverage while avoiding pressure is a lot like playing chords with the left hand and the melody with the right.
However, timing is essential because what a quarterback does after he avoids pressure is more important than the simple fact he eluded it. Good NFL quarterback prospects demonstrate at least some refined skill to maneuver from pressure and throw an accurate pass.
The music has to continue moving in rhythm and with the correct note choices.
Here’s a mesh concept (dual crossing routes) in the red zone against Georgia where Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham slides from edge pressure, climbs the pocket, and is faced with a difficult situation:
- Throw the ball early and risk the middle of the field defender jumping the route.
- Wait long enough to read the movement of the defender before releasing the ball.
Stidham fails to read the leverage of the middle of the field defender to target the crossing route early. You can see in the picture below (before playing the video) that the defender has his hips turned to the receiver coming from the left when Stidham originally looks to the receiver coming from the right.
This is a situation where the earliest decision was the best but like many young passers in these situations, Stidham errs in favor of waiting. Decisive throwing in the middle of the field is one of the most difficult things for amateur quarterbacks.
It requires reading the correct defender and great timing and feel. Compounding the issue is forced movement in the pocket from pressure while reading the field.
This one play from Jarrett Stidham’s portfolio of work does not define him. However, it is a telling example of plays that often define which passers possess timing and feel once you see enough of them on tape.
If you want to see a quarterback with that advanced feel, check out Mark Schofield’s RSP NFL Lens on Teddy Bridgewater throwing a crossing route open after eluding pressure in close quarters. It’s a case where Bridgewater has to wait instead of act early, but it still illustrates a passer reading multiple defender movements at various field depths at the same time.
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