The Evolution of the Quarterback

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As the NFL constantly changes, players and coaches have to adapt in order to find success. Tim Tebow was one of the biggest stories from the 2011 season. Analysts kept saying that he’s not really a quarterback; yet he kept winning games. He even won a playoff game against a team that was in the Super Bowl the year prior.

Tebow is just one of the players who is changing the definition of what it means to be a quarterback in the NFL. He finished with a 46.5 completion percentage on the season, which is horrible. It’s the worst completion percentage for players who averaged at least 14 pass attempts per game.

What Tebow lacked in accuracy, however, he made up for in rushing. The Broncos quarterback rushed for 660 yards (second among quarterbacks) and had six rushing touchdowns on the season. Mark Kiszla, columnist for the Denver Post, wrote something interesting following Denver’s loss against the Lions. “Tebow might be a spectacular physical specimen, but he is not an NFL quarterback.”

Who is to say that an NFL quarterback can’t be a physical specimen? Instead of bashing what Tebow brings to the table, embrace it.

Another example of a physical specimen is Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Newton shattered rookie records left and right during his first year as a pro and amazed everyone with his incredible play. But while his team didn’t make the playoffs, Newton still showed that there’s a new wave of quarterbacks coming around.

Despite his inexperience, Newton led all quarterbacks with 706 rushing yards and set a rookie record for most rushing touchdowns in a season with 14. He also set a rookie record for most passing yards in a season with 4,051.

Both Newton and Tebow received criticism coming out of college because of their skill-set. Scouts weren’t sure how their athletic ability would translate into the NFL. However, both ended up being first round picks due to their incredible athletic ability.

Newton stands tall at 6-foot-5, and at 248 pounds he has a big size for a quarterback. When you compare him to other quarterbacks, he’s huge. For example, Drew Brees, who led the NFL in passing with 5,476 yards, is 6-feet tall and 209 pounds. When you compare Newton to linebackers, he matches up better (size-wise). Tebow is 6-3 and 236 pounds, which again is big for his position.

The play of Newton and Tebow is giving hope to other incoming quarterbacks who may not play a traditional style of football. Take draft prospect Griffin III for example. Griffin is 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, and is coming off of a Heisman Trophy-winning season at Baylor. He finished with a 72.4 completion percentage, threw for 4,293 yards with 37 touchdowns and just six interceptions. In addition to that, he ran for almost 700 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Griffin is another athletic player playing quarterback. He lasted until the semifinals in an Olympic trial run in hurdles. In high school, he was named the Gatorade Texas Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year. The quarterback position is starting to transform into more of an athletic position. Players don’t just stand around in the pocket anymore. There’s a new generation of quarterbacks coming in, and I’m enjoying it.

Sophomore > Sports Journalism > IUPUI

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