Matt Waldman deconstructs an off-script completion from Russell Wilson to D.K. Metcalf and reveals how a quarterback’s footwork is a window into his football soul.
Bill Walsh said the best way to learn about a quarterback is to watch his feet. It’s one of the elegant truths of scouting the position.
A quarterback’s feet are tied to the timing of routes, his transition from one progression to the next, and how he solves the planned and unplanned problems of coverage and pressure. Although you may study a wide range of traits, techniques, and behaviors from a quarterback, his footwork often ties it all together.
Marcus Mariota’s footwork is the reflection of a task-oriented player who performs well when he’s a step ahead of the defense but if forced to solve issues “in the moment,” his play can become regimented to the point of becoming stiff.
Peyton Manning had an incisive and aggressive football mind that was often identifying solutions well ahead of the opportunity to execute them. His “nervous-anxious feet” were actually the product of an impatient mind with the winning lottery ticket who couldn’t get to the government office fast enough to claim his millions.
Joe Montana’s footwork was smooth and graceful and reflected the calm demeanor of his mindset and execution.
Jameis Winston’s footwork is often out of synch with the rest of his movements. Impulsivity interrupts his focus and his feet want to blurt out the answer before the question hasn’t been fully asked, or the Winston changes his mind in mid-answer and stumbles over his words.
Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers can be precise but they also have an acrobatic element to their games that allow them to do things that the defense cannot imagine. They’re master improvisers with extreme physical skill.
Russell Wilson lacks the physical tools of Mahomes and Rodgers but he’s a master improviser and a cold-hearted killer. I’ve called him the Michael Corleone of quarterbacks because as cultured and polite he is in public, he’ll rip your heart out.
Wilson is a master strategist who thinks fast on his feet but plays as if everything has been planned to the finest detail. This touch pass that he throws after bending away from Geno Atkins is an excellent display of control and precision during an off-script moment.
The NFL’s ultimate problem solver, @DangeRussWilson with the shortening of his strides to set up this daring touch pass to DK Metcalf.
QB footwork is a reflection of how the passer is processing info. Calm and precise for the situation pic.twitter.com/JuHMX0HZDV
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) September 10, 2019
I rarely see quarterbacks exhibit control of their footwork in such exacting fashion when running away from pressure and running toward the line of scrimmage. Wilson’s change in stride slows his momentum and enhances his delivery of a perfectly-timed touch-pass that splits a trailing corner and oncoming safety .
The performance is as precise and deadly as Michael Corleone’s planned execution of the heads of all five crime families while attending his baby’s baptism.
Russell Wilson remains the Godfather of quarterbacks.
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