I read an article recently on USAToday.com that dove into one of the issues with the NFL today that primarily focuses on poor quarterback play. There are a few elite QBs in the game today, a few adequate ones, and a lot of bad ones. The article was penned by Jarrett Bell, and Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon is quoted throughout the piece.
Moon was quoted saying, “If this is going to be a quarterback-driven league, the quarterback has to be coached better. There’s a lot of bad quarterbacking out there.”
He continued, “You’ve got a few stars and a lot of teams with good quarterbacks, but for most teams, once their starter goes down their season is finished.”
Anyone that watches the NFL knows that this is blatantly obvious. I mean, look at Minnesota, they lost starter Teddy Bridgewater before the season started, and so they traded away a number one pick in order to get Bradford from the Eagles because they did not believe that their backup was good enough to get them where they wanted to be.
So what is the solution to improve quarterback play you ask?
“The NFL needs a farm system, like it used to have with NFL Europe,” according to Moon. “It gives them those reps. Think about guys like Kurt Warner, Jon Kitna and Brad Johnson, who all played oversees and benefitted from the experience.”
Now this is an interesting point. Doesn’t the NFL essentially already have a farm system? Isn’t that what College Football is for? Isn’t that why the NFL requires players to be three years removed from High School so that they can gain the skills and attributes necessary to compete at an elite level (of there are other, more misguided reasons, but that is a discussion for a different day)?
This is where the problem arises. Colleges and Universities are designed to prepare its’ students for their futures and the “real world.” If the University begins to falter or becomes inadequate then students will not attend and the University could even lose its’ accreditation. College Football programs should be held to the same standard, but unfortunately programs are no longer correctly preparing it’s players for the NFL level.
College offenses have been transformed into spread offenses that utilize the capabilities of its’ players. This is typically used with smaller faster players that can “spread” the defense out instead of pounding it down their throats. The spread offense became very popular with the smaller “less-historic” schools and was implemented so that they could compete with the more esteemed Universities.
When winning is everything, which it is in College Football, I totally understand the necessity to do whatever it takes. Unfortunately for the players, this has really stunted their growth, and, as a consequence, directly correlates to poor play at the NFL level.
Take Jared Goff for example. He had an exceptional college career and was the number 1 overall pick in the 2016 Draft. He may not play a down this year because he is so far behind the NFL learning curve thanks to his time at Cal. He had to learn how to take a snap under Center, as embarrassing as that sounds for a number 1 pick. If Goff is truly as talented as the public eye and the Los Angeles Rams think for that matter, then Cal should have done a much better job at preparing him for the NFL.
Paxton Lynch is another prime example. He was drafted in the first round due to his talent, size, and intangibles, but is no where near ready to play at the NFL level. A seventh round pick from the year before is starting over him, because he needs a year to learn the NFL game.
With football being such a physical sport, it would almost be irresponsible to implement a farm system. That would be asking players to play at the college level for three or more years, and then, possibly, go and play a few years in a “developmental league” when they should have been developing in college the whole time! The shelf life of an NFL player is so short that it would truly jeopardize an athlete’s career if they were not even getting to the main stage until their late 20s early 30s.
I understand that the NCAA and the NFL are completely different entities, but they should really create a working relationship that will benefit both leagues. Until the grooming of college players for the next level is taken seriously, we will continue to see sloppy play on Sundays.