Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens: Drew Brees Speaks Quarterback With Sophistication

Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens showcases a play from New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees to illustrate that Quarterbacking is a language and the best speak it with sophistication. 

Preseason quarterback ratings look nice when your favorite young quarterback is sitting atop them if you’re simply into window dressing. Quarterback rating approximates how well a passer completed his objectives within the offensive scheme. It doesn’t tell us about the difficulty of the obstacles each quarterback faces and the creativity and efficiency of their solutions.

Because most defenses play vanilla schemes during the preseason, August quarterback ratings only indicate how well a passer performed his job against opponents that are mostly presenting basic looks. Most of their tasks against these defenses usually require the simpler processes of quarterbacking at this level football.

  • Execute the drop as the play is prescribed, find the first read, and fire the ball on-time and accurately in rhythm with the route.
  • If pressure arrives, either climb the pocket and find the next read, break the pocket and earn safe yards, or throw the ball away.
  • If the first read isn’t open, reset towards the next read and fire it there.

If quarterbacking were a language these simple processes would be basic sentences that you’re teaching a new language speaker:

“The red house is large.”

“The brown cat chased the orange bird.”

“Daniel Jones has a high preseason quarterback rating.”

For quarterbacks like Jones, August quarterback ratings are a sound indication that he’s executing basic skills for the NFL to expectation in the same way that Brett Hundley and Bruce Gradkowski have been leaders in the same stat during August. They looked great in an environment where “The brown cat chased the orange bird,” is the expectation.

When the expectation is to pack as much detail about the brown cat chasing the orange bird into 2-3 sentences, we begin to see their level of quarterback fluency deteriorate. They don’t know how to balance details without getting bogged down and their sentences lack structure or syntax.

The best young passers exhibit signs of speaking “Quarterback” in complex and detailed sentences that balance details. They also overcome small slip-ups that frustrate less accomplished speakers to the point that they lose confidence and give up.

Drew Brees has mastered the quarterback language. I shared this analysis on Twitter and at Footballguys as an example of processing speed, but it’s also a demonstration of a passer speaking the language with detailed sentences with precision about subjects of greater complexity than what we see from many young NFL passers.

Speaking quarterback at a high level takes years. Some have a gift for it earlier than others. Even those with talent often need time, training, and a supportive environment to reach their potential.

The fact that Daniel Jones, Kyler Murray, and Will Grier are showing that they can construct simple sentences and speak them in a manner that the average Quarterback speaker can understand is positive. Expecting them to deliver the quarterback equivalent of a speech to the U.N. about the influence of prison corporations on human rights abuses is not realistic this year.

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