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Quarterback Maintenance: What Do Good Quarterbacks Look Like -- Part 2

Zen and the Art of Fading into Bolivian.

This is Rohan Davey from Universe #2777
This is Rohan Davey from Universe #2777
Harry How/Getty Images

If you've read my previous posts, you might come to the conclusion that I have trouble connecting with women. This is not entirely untrue -- in fact, if this theory was your post-grad hypothesis you could easily defend it in any academic circle. You see, although, falling for unavailable people and being too shy to talk to someone I find attractive are serious issues in my quest for happiness, I've begun to realize how important timing is. Time after time, I am presented with someone who I was crushing on in the past tell me how much they liked me at that time too. I was, of course, way too oblivious to realize any such thing and now that window has closed forever. I comfort myself in the believe that there are infinite parallel universes where those Seth's made the right decision in all of these cases featuring potential love interests. In Universe #2874, Seth and [name redacted] live happily as struggling artists. In Universe #1781768, Seth and [name redacted] live out our passionate yet fragile love where we break up as often as we get back together doomed to repeat this cycle for eternity. Unfortunately, here in Universe #2777, all I can do is write blog posts pining for love lost and love unrequited.

Timing in love is just as important in timing throws to potential receivers. Windows in coverage don't stay open very long. As quarterbacks, we have to deliver the football with confidence, accuracy and timing. Route concepts aren't designed to get receivers open in acres of space. They are designed to get receivers open for small moments of time. Just like the concept of time, these windows are fleeting.

Accuracy comes with good technique and repetitions in practice. There is no magic to being accurate. I've been thinking a lot about technical training across all sports. The athlete wants to be able to make quick decisions. The quicker the play, the better chance you have at catching a defender(s) off guard. The problem with playing fast is how hard it is to be accurate with your shots and passes while doing so. This is where your mechanics come in. Good, consistent mechanics allows you to do all this. There aren't a lot of chances to make plays at the highest levels of sport, so we have to make the most of every opportunity.

Playing fast, as a quarterback, means not waiting on throws. An example of this is your typical 6-yard speed out route (or most out breaking routes) by either the slot receiver or wide receiver. When it comes to quick throws, we're often only reading one defender and using our peripheral vision on another. If we're running a two receiver concept where the wide receiver has a fade route and the slot receiver has the speed out route, we're going to read the cornerback and keep the defender over the slot in our peripheral vision. The slot defender is generally going to have inside leverage on your slot back, so we will then have leverage to the outside, where the route is going. Once the corner bails with the fade route, we can't wait. The ball has to be out right away to the out route. Pre-snap recognition that the slot defender is playing inside shade/leverage and then the ability to throw accurately with timing equals a completion. Sometimes the math is that simple.

The slant route is another example of a quick hitting timing route. The goal for the receiver is to win his route inside of the defender on top of him. This will mean bursting upfield for a number of steps, typically three, and then cutting on a diagonal towards the middle of the field. Slants are generally not open for very long because of two factors. First, there is the presence of interior defenders getting in the passing lane as they read the quarterback's eyes to jump underneath the route. Second, the defender on top of the receiver has a good angle to break down on the route and knock the ball away. Slants are usually open for a split second.

Fades, or whatever term you want to use, are a simple route that requires great execution from the quarterback. If it's thrown accurately it's hard for anyone but the receiver to make a play on the ball. We'd like to throw these "go" routes against either Cover 1 or Cover 3 (not to mention Cover 0) because it gives us a one-on-one matchup away from almost everyone else on the field. The timing part comes in because, with their being a middle of the field safety, if we stare too long at the fade route without throwing it, that safety will come over and essentially double team the receiver. We either have to throw with timing or find a way to hold the safety in the middle of the field long enough. The accuracy part is all about repetitions in practice. We're trying to drop the ball in a very small window beyond the trailing cornerback and close enough to the sideline so that the safety can't make a play. That's a small window.

There is an infinite amount of potential universes but only 5 potential receivers on any given play.  Whenever we can make a quick and accurate throw to our primary receiver, instead of having to go through all those dreaded "reads", we are making life easy on ourselves. Don't dwell on receivers as you wait for them to be open and don't dwell on the past as you wait for a brighter tomorrow.