The last month has been difficult. Every thread is seemingly about Quarterbacks and here I am contributing to the gluttony of QB talk that has swept field gulls and most of hawk nation. Let's face it, if there isn't a change on offense this year at the QB position it is almost assured that the Hawks will make that change next year. So? What can we hope for?
I had a strange memory flash of a Bill Walsh interview with Dan Patrick, I think back in 2005. Bill discussed the building of what would become the West Coast Offense when he was then a coach for the Bengals. "Knowing we couldn't run the ball very well, we wanted to design a passing game to function like a running game. It was very structured down to the tape on the receivers wrists. We looked at it all." Bill talked about the offense in terms it's structure but also said this about those that piloted the offense. "You need someone that can physically repeat the same actions over and over and over because the system is developed on timing the throws so that they arrive to the receivers just like a handoff, an inch or two in front of their numbers."
Later in the interview when asked about the complexity of the offense by Dan Patrick, Bill gives this quote. (paraphrasing) "It's harder on the receivers, picking up the offense it's knowing how to break a route so the ball is perfectly timed to them. A simple hitch in a step or a slip here or there and the QB can't lead them to the spot where the route is complete right when the ball arrives." (Think Branch's TD under the goal posts. Anyone remember what game this was? The throw is made right as he's completing his route so the ball almost looks like it was handed to him as he finishes his route.)
The kicker though, is when he talks QBs. He says this, "As long as your QB is physically disciplined, this offensive philosophy is so simplified for the position that some automatic success is almost a given." I remember scoffing at this and feeling like this was the 'Denver produces 1500 yards through system' argument. Add up all the men that were average or less than average athletes that functioned in versions of this passing system. There are a few notables including the likes of Steve DeBerg.
Hasselbeck was a sixth-Round pick for a reason. However, unlike Jon Kitna who had a bit better arm Hasselbeck could repeat the same physical motions over an over with nearly 90% accuracy. Kitna could throw a 15-yard dart right on the money, but then he could come back to the same throw and sail the ball high the next play. It's that simple ability of repeating the same throws over and over that made Hasselbeck a probowler and probably shows up in practices.
In looking for the next QB, lets not look at the cannons alone. Let's look at the most physically consistent QB because if he has this, the system is designed to help him have success. Let's just hope this QB can put it on a rope deeper than 10 yards where it doesn't look like a turkey trying to fly. Andrew Luck looks like this guy. Not a gun, but not a duck thrower. A system QB who repeats everything to a T, from his footwork to his shoulders to his control under duress this is a guy who definitely looks the part of the West Coast QB mold. I hope for Andrew Luck