Mark Schofield’s RSP NFL Lens profiles a blitz-replacement throw by Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, a player who will never win a quarterback beauty pageant but Schofield could care less.
Style points. They might get you featured on SportsCenter. They might get you an endorsement deal, a product line, and maybe you’ll be featured in lyrics from Jay-Z. But style points do not always win games or pick up first downs. Execution does.
Philip Rivers might remain the “ugly duckling” of the elite or near-elite quarterback tier. His throwing motion is not always picturesque. His drops from center or in the shotgun are not textbook. His movement in the pocket is not crisp. But Rivers does have a knack for making throws when his team needs them, and his ability to handle pressure is one of his better traits. Replacing the blitz with the ball is something Rivers does very well, and he shows it on these two plays against the Buffalo Bills:
On both of these plays Rivers’ mechanics are flawed, his release point is unorthodox and his footwork is unsettled. But style points don’t matter, getting the ball to his receiver quickly to replace the blitz does.
When studying younger quarterbacks, remember that NFL defensive coordinators love to bring pressure to try and flummox rookie QBs. So when evaluating college quarterbacks, pay particular attention to how they handle blitzes. Do they replace the blitz with the ball? Do they speed things up and make the right decisions, or do they speed things up yet make mistakes? Knowing what they’ll face early in the NFL helps you best project how that transition will look.