PROS AND CONS: How playing in the Baylor-style offense affects quarterbacks’ transition to the NFL

PROS AND CONS: How playing in the Baylor-style offense affects quarterbacks’ transition to the NFL

first_imgNFL Network analyst Mike Mayock praised Garropolo’s quick release — a key trait for quarterbacks in the Baylor offense to deliver the ball once the mismatch is identified — when he was taken in 2014. Published on August 31, 2016 at 1:11 am Contact Paul: pmschwed@syr.edu | @pschweds,Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment. Petty has never started an NFL game, but competed for the New York Jets’ backup spot this preseason. Garoppolo is slated to fill in for the first four games this year while Tom Brady is suspended.Griffin III was the NFL’s 2012 offensive rookie of the year but didn’t make a start last season. He’s expected to start for the Cleveland Browns this season.Kevin Kolb and Case Keenum, both of whom played under Briles at Houston, survived as NFL journeymen, but neither has started for a full season.“All these guys were quarterbacks in this offense,” Babers said when asked about the transition to pro-style offenses. “So which quarterback are you referring to that can’t make the National Football League?”While the style these quarterbacks played in college allowed them to attract professional attention, none have reached the status of multi-year full-time starter.,“As this offense grows and more and more people learn how to run it and it continues to expand to other schools,” said Bowling Green quarterback James Knapke, who played for Babers the past two seasons, “I think you’ll see a lot smoother transitions for guys playing in this offense.”Syracuse is that next school on the list and Dungey is the next quarterback to join the group. The Baylor offense has already proven it can send players to the NFL. But as of now, the transition has left several quarterbacks searching for a legitimate reputation as a pro.Dungey could be the one to change that.Banner photos courtesy of Barry Chin/Boston Globe, Cleveland Browns, John Munson | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, Philadelphia Eagles. Commentscenter_img To read Part 1 of the Babers Offense Series, click here. To read Part 2, click here.Syracuse has used six different quarterbacks over the past two seasons. The Orange ranked 13th in the Atlantic Coast Conference in total offense last year. Its offensive play-calling has come under scrutiny.Enter Dino Babers, who has repeatedly beamed about the offensive scheme he’s bringing to SU. And the team he’s leading, especially his quarterback, can be molded.Starter Eric Dungey still has three years of eligibility remaining. Babers has said there’s no doubt that over time, the system will work. That means Dungey could join a select group by the time his Syracuse career is over.Kevin Kolb, Robert Griffin III, Jimmy Garoppolo and Bryce Petty all spent multiple seasons in the Baylor-style offense and put up video game-like numbers. Griffin won the Heisman Trophy. But they’ve also all had up-and-down stints in the NFL. Griffin, Garoppolo and Petty still have chances to improve and match their college success.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Scouts like to see them in a pro-style system because you see them run what they’re going to run in the NFL,” said Mark Dulgerian, an NFL Network researcher and scout for Optimum Scouting. “I don’t want to say they can’t be successful, they just haven’t practiced making some of the reads and some of the throws that they’re going to need in the NFL.“It’s just a lot more difficult.”Dungey has the chance to be the next in line. And if he enters the NFL, the same question that follows his predecessors will almost undoubtedly follow him. Can he handle the complexity of NFL offenses?“Scouts like to see them in a pro-style system because you see them run what they’re going to run in the NFL.I don’t want to say they can’t be successful, they just haven’t practiced making some of the reads and some of the throws that they’re going to need in the NFL.Mark DulgerianThe style that Babers learned while coaching under Art Briles at Baylor from 2008-11 has a stigma of being “simple.” That’s because it is — or at least it’s simpler than some “pro-style” schemes. Fewer quarterback responsibilities have led to quicker decisions and faster passes. The movements become instinctual and allow teams to pick defenses apart.The scheme was created by Briles in 1990 at Stephenville (Texas) High School, and one of Briles’ core principles was to keep it as easy as possible to learn. Unlike many NFL schemes, there aren’t traditional three-, five- and seven-step drops and a significant amount of the reads are done on option plays. Most of the time, the quarterback lines up in shotgun while standard NFL systems feature the quarterback under center.Briles was recently fired at Baylor after allegedly covering up several players sexually assaulting students. According to a review by Philadelphia-based law firm Pepper Hamilton that presented findings of fact to Baylor’s board of regents, “football coaches and staff had inappropriate involvement in disciplinary and criminal matters or engaged in improper conduct that reinforced an overall perception that football was above the rules.”The offense that Babers is using at Syracuse is friendly to quarterbacks. Almost too friendly.When quarterbacks who saw immense success playing collegiately in the scheme transition to the NFL, they’ve often been forced to learn different styles that don’t align with what they were previously used to. The gaudy numbers they put up in college can be inflated.The dynamic is multi-faceted. Players coming from the Baylor system have a steeper professional learning curve. And then in the pros, quarterbacks are being pigeonholed to run a system they’re not used to. But if they didn’t put up monster stats in college, they may never have gotten a shot to reach the professionals.“I learned coverages from Coach Babers,” Garoppolo said in an email, “and learning that helped me transition to the NFL.”,Because the scheme is based mostly on reading one or two defensive players on any given play, quarterbacks don’t quite learn to go through their progressions as well as those in pro-style offenses. But on tape, Dulgerian said he saw Garoppolo move to his third receiver often and still deliver accurate passes.However, when former Stephenville quarterback Kelan Luker began his collegiate career at Southern Methodist in 1999, he was overwhelmed. He had just helped the Yellow Jackets set high school football yardage records.The Mustangs ran a pro-style offense and Luker said it took players about two to three years to learn the 2-inch thick playbook. Comparing his experience to those moving from the Baylor offense to the NFL, he said quarterbacks shouldn’t become starters immediately.“They wanted me to start as a freshman, I just didn’t know how that was possible,” Luker said. “There was just so much information.”,The offense is only used by a handful of college teams, and defenses aren’t as well prepared for it compared to schemes they face often. It’s meant to take advantage of certain matchups by spreading four or five receivers as wide as possible and having the quarterback choose whether it’ll be a pass or a run after the ball is snapped. Whichever option the defense shifts toward, the quarterback chooses the opposite.The potential problem for quarterbacks upon reaching the NFL, though, is that coverages are better disguised so it often takes third and fourth reads to find an open receiver.“It’s a copycat league. A lot of people do the same things,” said Sterling Doty, a former offensive lineman who played under Briles at Stephenville and Houston. “… It’s just the NFL’s done it so long one way, it’s hard to get them to change that mindset.”,Neither Briles nor Babers have a physical playbook since the concepts are easy enough to understand without writing them down. Receivers running routes on opposite sides of the field sometimes mirror each other, another example of less sophistication than in the pros.The simplicity has paid short-term dividends. Two seasons ago under Briles at Baylor, Bryce Petty threw for 3,855 yards, but most came on throws to his first progression, Dulgarian said. Under Babers in 2013, Gar0ppolo threw for 5,050 yards at Eastern Illinois.The difference was that Garoppolo was able to convert passes when plays broke down and multiple receivers were covered. That tipped off scouts to think he could transition to an NFL offense and explains why he was a second-round pick, Dulgerian said.When Petty was drafted in the fourth round in 2015, ESPN analyst Todd McShay explained that Petty would have to learn how to run plays out of a huddle, take snaps under center and read both sides of the field.last_img

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