Lessons for Wentz in Ryan's spot-on approach - Inquirer
In August, Matt Ryan was asked where he would start if he was teaching young quarterbacks how to beat the NFL's new generation of defenses. The Falcons quarterback answered with a phrase that drew some criticism because it sounded as if he had lessened the importance of reading defenses and was simplifying what everyone agrees isn't simple: playing quarterback in the NFL.
"When some people saw it they freaked out," Eagles backup quarterback Chase Daniel said. "But [Ryan is] one of the smartest people I know. There's something to be said about overcomplicating the quarterback position, and that is when guys struggle. When you're just seeing literally every single possible thing on the field it's not always good. You don't always want to do that.
"So I get it. I didn't know how to verbally say it, but ['see spots'] makes sense."
Cosell, who rated Wentz as the top quarterback in the 2016 draft, believes Wentz has shown an understanding of the game “that is at a level beyond that of a rookie. I think he’s relatively poised and composed and aware of where to go with the ball within the concepts that they run.” There is nothing that he’s seen in the first eight weeks that has altered his opinion of how he projects Wentz going forward in the NFL.
“My opinion hasn’t changed at all,” he said. “He’s going to be a good player.”
That seems to be the consensus within the building as well.
"I couldn't be any more glad we got this guy," said offensive coordinator Frank Reich. "He's a good player. The start of his first eight games of his career, there's been a lot of really shining moments.
"I think he's done well. He's made his mistakes, but we all have. I'm just glad he's on our team. I think the future is very bright, and I think the near future is very bright."
"Hard to say he struggled when you throw for 340," Quinn said of Wentz. "You know what really showed the competitor he is? They had some turnovers early in the game, and he didn't back off. I think it might have been the first two series where he had some interceptions. And then he came right back and had some huge plays to get them right back in it and battling for it all the way there at the end.
"Generally, you can see they're doing an excellent job in the pocket, outside the pocket. They gave him the whole complement of the offense. That's usually what you look for in a quarterback: Can he handle the whole thing? And that's certainly the case there. After a half a season in, you can tell he's feeling the familiarity, the routes, the concepts. I'm impressed by his athleticism. I wouldn't say he's a quarterback that's going to be a run-first option, but he certainly is athletic. And they can do some of the quarterback gun runs that makes him an extra player to defend."
But analytics long ago debunked the idea that you need to run to set up the pass-and besides, even the worst teams in the league rush more than 20 times a game, so you especially don't need to run to set up fake handoffs.
As far as I can tell, then, too many coaches call play-action by rote rather than looking at data to see who's actually effective at it. An extreme example: The Chargers have gone to play-action on just 10.3 percent of Philip Rivers' pass attempts since the start of 2012, even though over that span he has hurled 22 TDs with just six picks on play-action and his completions have traveled 37 percent farther, on average, than his other throws. Overall, there is actually a slightly negative correlation between how often NFL teams use play-action and how well they use it (as measured by improvement in ypa): minus-0.19, on a scale of minus-1 to 1.
Now, play-action is based on faking out the opposition. So if you use it more frequently, won't its effectiveness decline? Well, yes. Eventually, defenders will stop biting on false handoffs, and linebackers will keep clogging the middle of the field rather than rushing toward the line of scrimmage. But until the advantage of play-action erodes completely, it makes sense to keep trying. A team hasn't optimized its offense until the gains from various play types are equal-until there's no reason to switch from one to another.