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    • michael89156

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      NFL’s Best Running Quarterback? The Answer May Surprise Yourun_zps8f647a3f.jpgAthletic QBs add a new dimension to offenses, but often the decision to scramble comes at the expense of the passing game. Hours of film study show how Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III rate as decision-makers—and difference-makers—with their legsBy Andy Benoit    SI.comJune 5  2014Two weeks ago I spent some time at NFL Films, a mecca for any football nerd. They have an incredible system for all their footage and audio, called Saber. Using Saber you can, among other things, view and sort All-22 coaches film by almost any factor imaginable. Want to see every Peyton Manning pass on 2nd-and-8 since 2005? You can! How about every Patrick Willis third-quarter tackle? Of course! Or every incompletion targeted for Darrius Heyward-Bey? You bet! (If you have a month to spend, anyway.) I took the opportunity to break down every run by Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck from the 2013 regular season. Each player, save for Luck, had about 100 rushing attempts. After watching them all in a row, you start to notice patterns. I charted those patterns, focusing on (a) how successful each player’s scrambles and designed runs were, and (b) whether the scrambles stemmed from good or bad decisions. So often, running quarterbacks run because they can’t recognize where to throw. I’m not talking about receivers being covered or the defense befuddling a passer; I’m talking about a QB dropping back and failing to execute within the structure of a well-designed play. Sacks often stem from this, too, which is why I also charted them in a separate study. Football is not baseball; no statistical formula can portray exactly what is happening on the field. I would have loved to include incomplete passes in my study because, like scrambles and sacks, they often stem from undeveloped decision-making and unrefined fundamentals. Unfortunately, with only five days available at NFL Films, and only 12 hours available in each of those days, there was not enough time to view every incompletion. Nevertheless, the running plays and sacks revealed plenty. The conclusions: Newton, Wilson and Kaepernick are insanely talented athletes, Griffin was not himself last year and Luck is a comparable athlete to all of them and an overwhelmingly better quarterback. Here are the specifics…run1_zps204d377c.gifThat’s right: Luck was not the primary culpable offender for a single sack he took. The extremity of that statistic—ZERO!—is surprising, but the gist of it is not. Quarterbacks who keep their eyes downfield and move in the pocket with near-perfect mechanics don’t create their own sacks. How other quarterback sacks were faulted:run2_zps6e3ebeee.gifA note on Wilson: All but one of the sacks that were a blocker’s fault came against a simple four-man rush. Also worth noting: Some of the “protection concept” sacks—and, to a lesser degree, some of the coverage sacks—could be on the quarterback, depending on what his play-calling and protection-setting responsibilities are. But without being in the team meetings, we have no way of knowing that. Scrambling A “correct decision” scramble was any scramble caused by pressure or no receivers getting open. An “incorrect decision” scramble was when the quarterback blatantly abandoned a play design that worked. A “successful” scramble was something like, say, a first-down run that gained four-plus yards, or a third-down run that moved the chains.run3_zps1dc4c55d.gifJust as with sacks, Luck graded out the best. Some other highlights: •Newton moved the chains 17 times by scrambling on third down (21 attempts). And he was 8-for-8 on QB sneaks. •Wilson was 4-for-15 moving the chains when scrambling on third down, and just 1-for-6 on QB sneaks. •18 of Wilson’s “rushing attempts” for the season were QB kneel-downs. Take those out and his yards per run goes from 5.6 to 7.1. •Also, 18 of Luck’s “rushing attempts” were kneel-downs. Take those out and his yards per run goes from 6.0 to 8.8. (Luck, however, attempted just 45 runs to Wilson’s 78.) •Of Newton’s 16 “incorrect decision” scrambles, 13 still produced a successful outcome. In fact, several of his longest runs on the year came off incorrect decisions. •Kaepernick was clearly the most dangerous scrambler in terms of speed and agility, though only 9 of his 22 third-down scrambles were successful. •Griffin had the worst scrambling numbers, but he had (by a narrow margin) the best success rate on designed runs. Designed Runs Here’s the breakdown on success of designed runs:run4_zps4ac10080.gifUnquantifiable things that stood out: ?Newton is clearly a half-field reader. He also did not slide at all, though he managed to avoid any big hits. He gives himself up in the name of safety; his style is just to fall forward and essentially tackle himself. ?Wilson is another half-field reader, though his scrambles are, by indirect design, a major facet of Seattle’s offense. Seahawks coaches seem to instruct Wilson to run early in the down if that’s what he’s comfortable with. That changed the definition of some of his correct/incorrect scrambles. ?Kaepernick does not read the defense before the snap. You can tell because he shows no understanding of this basic quarterbacking concept: When one receiver is covered, it often means another receiver is not. There’s no awareness of route combinations. ?Griffin takes far too many punishing hits, especially at the end of runs in mildly critical situations (like, say, a 3rd-and-6 early in the first half). He’s been taught to protect himself, but the execution is not natural. ?Luck was impressive even on a lot of negative plays. He always tried to keep plays alive, running extremely late in the down and rarely compromising his physical readiness to throw. The takeaway: About one out of four times, a young running quarterback will make a poor decision to scramble or do something to get himself sacked. That is, unless he’s Andrew Luck, who is basically a 10-year veteran in his approach to running with the ball (and treated as such; notice the Colts did not jeopardize his safety with designed run calls). In terms of efficiency, which is crucial to quarterbacking, Luck was clearly the best of this bunch—and that’s just in the running department. Based on what his decision-making revealed in this instance, my guess is he’d be even further ahead of Griffin, Kaepernick, Newton and Wilson if we conducted a passing-game analysis. Right now, these running quarterbacks are dominant athletes—which can be enough if they have a strong supporting cast. But with a 15-percentage-point jump in their decision-making proficiency, they’d become dominant quarterbacks.

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    • gobucs123

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      Post count: 569

      Stats aside , Newton iS the guy who scares me the most when he takes off running.

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 4140

      Not because Luck is a good runner.  He is a smart and efficient runner, only when he needs to… I personally think the “best” description only works in the option.    In other words I’d title the article “The nfl’s “ideal” running QB.  But then I wouldn’t be surprised….    Lol

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 4623

      Luck is such a better athlete than people give him credit for.

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 2775

      Luck is a good runner.  Was in college as well.

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 9891

      Luck is such a better athlete than people give him credit for.

      imagine his payday after Kaps

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    • Anonymous

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      Luck tested at the combine to be every bit the athlete Cam Newton is. He’s just a lot smarter.

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    • Anonymous

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      Luck also threw like 1,000 interceptions in the post season this year.I'll take Wilson over anyone in this group

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 6677

      I like Wilson a lot but calm your man boobs.  Luck is twice the QB he is and is asked to do a hell of a lot more.  With more experience he will be on a level with Peyton.    Give Luck the best defense the nfl has seen in years like Wilson got and it wouldn’t even be a discussion. 

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 4623

      Luck also threw like 1,000 interceptions in the post season this year.I'll take Wilson over anyone in this group

      Luck is trying to be the best QB in the NFL and isn't afraid to make mistakes in the process.

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 6677

      And he actually won one of those games leading his team to 45 points against a good defensive team in KC.

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 8096

      Has Luck already topped out after 2 seasons?

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 6677

      Luck is only going to get better with experience.  Think a young Peyton Manning.  Colts are going to be a 11 + win team for the next 10 years.

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 642

      Has Luck already topped out after 2 seasons?

      Nope.  Just because his floor is higher than any QB that's been drafted in the last 10 years doesn't mean he cant get better.His stats are simply incredible. 

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 8096

      Really? 

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    • Anonymous

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      Post count: 805

      Just because he’s white it’s deceptive that he’s a great athlete? He wasn’t the #1 overall pick for no reason. The guy was polished in every aspect of the game coming out of college.

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 4623

      Has Luck already topped out after 2 seasons?

      Nope.  Just because his floor is higher than any QB that's been drafted in the last 10 years doesn't mean he cant get better.His stats are simply incredible.

      He only had the #18 passer rating last season. As good as he is, he still has a lot of room to get better.

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 2775

      Has Luck already topped out after 2 seasons?

      Nope.  Just because his floor is higher than any QB that's been drafted in the last 10 years doesn't mean he cant get better.His stats are simply incredible.

      He only had the #18 passer rating last season. As good as he is, he still has a lot of room to get better.

      He's proof that being good is not enough.  You need to have players around you or you will be toast. 

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 8096

      Has Luck already topped out after 2 seasons?

      Nope.  Just because his floor is higher than any QB that's been drafted in the last 10 years doesn't mean he cant get better.His stats are simply incredible.

      He only had the #18 passer rating last season. As good as he is, he still has a lot of room to get better.

      He's proof that being good is not enough.  You need to have players around you or you will be toast.

      He threw 23 TDs in both seasons.  He did manage to clean up those horrendous INT issues and completion % a little bit from his rookie year.

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    • Anonymous

      Inactive
      Post count: 4623

      Has Luck already topped out after 2 seasons?

      Nope.  Just because his floor is higher than any QB that's been drafted in the last 10 years doesn't mean he cant get better.His stats are simply incredible.

      He only had the #18 passer rating last season. As good as he is, he still has a lot of room to get better.

      He's proof that being good is not enough.  You need to have players around you or you will be toast.

      He threw 23 TDs in both seasons.  He did manage to clean up those horrendous INT issues and completion % a little bit from his rookie year.

      But at only 60.2% he easily has room to get to 63-64% and at 6.7 YPA he can pretty easily raise that to the mid-7's.

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