Here is the tenth section in the ongoing series of the intricacies of scouting college quarterbacks.
There are too many instances of failed careers in the National Football League at the quarterback position, not because of the lack of physical talent, but because the lack of the basic understanding of how to implement that talent on the field. Why is it that veteran quarterbacks have such a firm grasp of certain aspects to the position, yet probably don’t have the physical makeup and skill set of a much younger player?
I’ve always felt because they’ve grasped how to properly utilize the talent they have in relation to the game of football. John Westenhaver touches on this very concept with “understanding” the vectoring and dynamic geometry of throwing a football at a moving target. The best quarterbacks are the best “hunters” in their own right. You’ll understand as you read below.
The Football Educator
APPENDIX A: Vectoring and Dynamic Geometry
Vector is defined in the second edition of the American heritage dictionary as follows: “A quality completely specified by a magnitude and a direction”. I am more familiar with this term as it applies to the interception of one aircraft with another. For the purpose of this discussion, I will apply speed for the term magnitude as that is the context for which it is intended.
Dynamic geometry is a term of my own invention. A descriptive term depicting two objects, the receiver and the ball. These two objects have the goal of arriving at the same place at the same time. Vectoring is the process required to achieve this goal, and dynamic geometry is the visualization of this process.
Think back to your high school plain geometry class where we were give three points of a triangle [a,b and c] and were asked to figure out the distance from point “a” to point “c”. Now visualize point “b” moving on a plane from its original point to a moving point “c”, with point “a” being stationary or moving. This moving of points is the dynamic geometric picture that we need to consider.
Let me put this is simpler terms. Have you ever gone bird hunting? If so, here is the sequence of events. The hunter is standing at point “a”. He spots the bird at point “b” but the bird is moving to a point “c”. The hunter aims his gun at where he thinks the bullet and the bird will intersect, point “c”. He must consider the speed of the bird, the speed of the bullet, and the point at which to aim. If all of his calculations are correct he will have his prey and the hunt will have been successful. For him to be the best hunter in the field his calculations [the speed of the bird, the speed of the bullet and the aiming point] must be consistently accurate. A miscalculation of any one of these factors will result in a missed bird and the waste of a bullet.
The point of all of this:
As I observed the quarterbacks at the recent NFL combine I witnessed most of the players throwing behind the out, the slant, and the post routes, and I began to wonder why? I knew that it wasn’t because of a lack of power or ball speed from the quarterback, and in most cases was not due to the poor timing of the delivery. As I pondered this dilemma it became very clear to me.
There were two basic factors. One, a lack of understanding of “vectoring and dynamic geometry” and two, looking at the receiver [a false “c”] and not to the intersection point [the true “c”]. A failure to execute one or both of these will always result in a ball thrown behind the receiver.
Poor vectoring is, mechanically speaking, caused by a failure to achieve proper front foot stepping which results in a failure to get the hips “open” to the target. This coupled with an aborted “dominant arm” follow through produces the observed result. You see, when a hunter fires a shot at the bird, it is aimed at a point where the bird will fly through the barrage. Looking at the receiver and not to the intersection point contributes greatly to the above factors. This brings up another point, the importance of the quarterback knowing the speed, the cut point control ability, the burst, and the uniqueness of each receiver.
As an aside, most of the passes were also high on their arrival at the target and this is due to a low elbow position. With a low elbow position it is virtually impossible to throw a pass on a descending trajectory.
I would debate anyone anywhere who maintains that passing mechanics are not important and that they can’t or should not be taught and emphasized.
Up Next – Scouting College Quarterbacks – COGNATIVE ABILITY/MUSCLE MEMORY