A LITTLE MAN'S LEAGUE
April 15, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
Little Man’s League
One quarterback is 6’6, 240 pounds while the other quarterback is 5’11, 206 pounds. Which one would you want leading your favorite team? Now what if I told you that the 6’6 quarterback is considered to be an NFL quarterback while the 5’11 quarterback is considered too small to play in the league? The big quarterback is considered the prototypical quarterback in the NFL while the smaller is considered to be a journeyman prospect. Still want the big quarterback leading your team? Now what if I told you that that the big quarterback is Josh Freeman and the small quarterback is Russell Wilson? Still want the big quarterback in this situation?
What defines prototypical in the NFL? Merriam-Webster defines prototypical as “having the typical qualities of a particular group or kind of person or thing”. In today’s NFL, a prototypical quarterback is considered to be about 6’2 to 6’6 and at least 210 pounds. If a quarterback fits that category they are considered durable in the NFL. Anything under that limit, and they are considered too small to be a quality starter in the NFL.
If the six foot and under quarterbacks are too small to win the Super Bowl, why have two of them won it in the last five years? Drew Brees 6’0 carried the New Orleans Saints to the title in 2010 against a prototypical Peyton Manning. Russell Wilson used defense and a strong running game to reach the Super Bowl this past year but was more efficient in the big game than prototypical Peyton Manning.
So the only way to win the Super Bowl with a six foot or under quarterback is to play Peyton Manning in the title game? Simply put, no. Teams must be able to adapt to the quarterback on their roster. Take what they have a find a way to make it work.
Now Drew Brees and Russell Wilson are two completely different players. Brees is a field general that can make every single throw but is limited to the pocket because of his mobility. Wilson at the moment is more of a game manager that can make every throw but uses his mobility to make the play action plays a large part of the Seahawks offense. Do I think Russell Wilson could carry a team like Drew Brees does? No, but they are at different points of their career. Russell Wilson will continue to develop and eventually be asked to carry his team but for now, the Seahawks have found a way to use him in the right system and a Super Bowl title is the result.
With the NFL Draft approaching, teams are facing the same dilemma about whether or not to draft an undersized quarterback or not. Teddy Bridgewater is victim number one in this debate. At the combine, Bridgewater measured in at 6’2, 214 pounds. All the talk around the league is that he doesn’t have a big enough frame to hold up in the NFL. The other small prospect that I will choose to compare is none other than Johnny Football Manziel. Manziel measured in at 5’11, 207 pounds
but no one really seems that concerned about his size. At Texas A&M, Manziel would run around like a chicken with its head cut off and take so many unnecessary hits but experts still don’t seem concerned. Bridgewater’s time at Louisville consisted of sitting in the pocket, running a pro style offense and he is being questioned. So where exactly is the fine line that says, even though Manziel isn’t a prototypical sized quarterback, he can still make it in the NFL?
Manziel is definitely an intriguing prospect because of his mobility and ability to make throws down the field on the run. What he will have to eliminate is the feeling of scrambling on every play and looking off open reads. With his mobility, he would be best suited for a team like the Seahawks where he doesn’t have to carry a team from day one and can rely on his defense and running game to bail him out. Something he didn’t have at Texas A&M this past year.
So are smaller quarterbacks the future of the NFL? Not so much, but Drew Brees and Russell Wilson have proved that small quarterbacks can make it in the league. The NFL is all about adapting and having an identity which is what New Orleans and Seattle both excel at. Experts can say all they want about teams needing prototypical sized quarterbacks such as Cam Newton and Andrew Luck but even they can’t do everything on their own. If a quarterback is undersized but can make every throw and can find the right system and support, they can be just as successful as a prototypical sized quarterback. Just take a look at New England Patriot Tom Brady. Coming out of Michigan he was considered so undersized and fragile that teams forgot his production at Michigan. Now he is future Hall of Famer.
Teams will always be searching for that big bodied quarterback that can fling it eighty yards down field but the days of having a prototypical sized quarterback are beginning to fade. Thanks to the little guys.