Virginia Tech's impact on the NFL quarterback

After Cam Newton's stellar rookie year and RG3's spectacular rookie year, one can't help but notice the new trend among NFL quarterbacks. These days, mobile quarterbacks are being glorified as the new fad. Not only because there are more these days than ever before, but because they are actually successful. It makes sense if you think about it, the quarterback is usually "unaccounted for" which leaves defenses vulnerable if the quarterback decides to think outside of the box and use his feet instead of his arm. Well if it's that easy, why is it such a new trend in the NFL? Why haven't teams made mobile quarterbacks a focal point in the past?

Answer: Virginia Tech's Michael Vick.

When Michael Vick got drafted #1 overall in 2001, it changed the stigma associated with mobile quarterbacks. Prior to Vick, mobile quarterbacks weren't looked at as a long term solution, but instead an exciting way to win games. That changed when the Falcons took Vick #1 overall. Obviously, there were mobile quarterbacks before Vick, like Cunningham and Tarkenton, but people were reluctant to accept them, even with their success.

Furthermore, no mobile quarterback had been asked to come in and be the face of the franchise prior to Vick. Culpepper was taken 11th overall two years prior to Vick which was a huge step for mobile quarterbacks, but those 10 picks are huge. By Vick being taken #1 overall, it showed the world that mobile quarterbacks are quarterbacks too. It changed people's mindset on what was an acceptable NFL quarterback. It showed NFL fans, players, execs, coaches, etc. that you can build a team around a mobile quarterback.

Although Vick's had his downs in the NFL (on the field), I strongly believe that his being taken #1 overall paved the way for these mobile quarterbacks we see today. Therefore, not only has our alma mater changed the way we feel about football, but it has changed the way everybody views what is acceptable in professional football. Cheers to Tyrod and Logan being the next VT quarterbacks to progress the position. Go Hokies!

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Comments

Interesting Post

These are good thoughts, however, I see it a little bit different. I remember every football related story about Vick's time in Atlanta being centered around his transition to a pocket passer. NFL talking heads were mostly critical about him escaping the pocket. At that time, I think the NFL's concept of a mobile quarterback was someone like Elway or Young, a guy who had wheels, but only used them after he went through his progressions. One of the biggest critiques of Vick was he was a "run first" quarterback.

But you're right, something or things have changed. The 49ers, Redskins, and Seahawks have all embraced running the quarterback as part of their offense. The Iggles just hired Chip Kelly. Harbaugh and Carroll were in college before their NFL jobs, and the Washington coaches went to Baylor to figure how to best marry RG3's college scheme with their previously successful zone rushing attack. The success of the spread and Chris Ault's pistol in college (in)directly influenced those coaches who are now in the NFL.

Getting back to Vick. Football is an evolution, where more radical ideas and concepts seem to move faster in college (especially at the lower levels). Vick was one of the first true dual-threat quarterbacks. He was the fastest guy on the field, and could throw it on a rope 75 yards. I think he helped spark the revolution in college, which has become more advanced and diversified, and has just now trickled up to the NFL.

Don't think it has to do with the evolution of the quarterback position itself, but more the evolution of the athlete in general. Where Michael Vick was able to survive with his inaccurate arm in the NFL because of his incredible elusiveness, the previously mentioned quarterbacks are now actual quarterbacks in the true sense but with incredible athletic ability.

I think you can make the similar comparison to most sports, especially basketball. Used to be that if you were 6'8", that you were destined to be a center until the evolution of the athlete made for a bunch of 6'8" kids who could dribble and shoot just as good as the shorter kids.

" the previously mentioned quarterbacks are now actual quarterbacks in the true sense but with incredible athletic ability."

And Vick may be one reason that these incredible athletes have true quarterback skills. Speculation here: but if Vick didn't come along and challenge the notion that a mobile qb can't be a real qb, then Newton, RG3, Wilson, and Kaepernick's childhood coaches may have just moved those guys to running back, wide receiver or db instead of coaching and developing their passing skills. Obviously I can't prove this but it makes sense. Same way prior to Doug Williams, I'm sure little league coaches laughed at black kids that said they wanted to play quarterback. However, Williams came along and changed people's mindsets.

Kendall Fuller - future Thorpe winner

Joe

I will preface this by saying I don't think you're wrong at all. You are right with your points but I think we are looking at it two different ways:

I think your points are more directed at schemes and gameplans, whereas I'm pointing out the cultural impact that Vick had. The view of a mobile quarterback when it comes to schemes and gameplanning certainly has changed since Vick got drafted - with the popularity of the spread, wildcat, pistol, option-read, etc. - but those changes are directly related to Vick's impact imo.

Like I said in the post, Vick changed the stigma associated with mobile quarterbacks when it came to the mindset that quarterbacks should be made one way. Vick's impact on football allowed people to open their minds and think outside the box, which led to the advancement in the schemes that we see today in the NFL (and in college, as you stated).

I agree that Vick still had his critics and people still were reluctant to embrace a dual threat quarterback, but at the end of the day, the Falcons taking him with the #1 overall pick went directly against status quo and was a significant moment in the history of the NFL quarterback.

I think the Manzell for Heisman thing is reflective of my point, just in a different sense. The general consensus among the college football gods was that "A freshman can't win the heisman" but then Manzell came along and ruined that. In the future, people will be less reluctant to crown a freshman Heisman because the stigma is gone.

Kendall Fuller - future Thorpe winner

QB Eagles (Randall Cunningham) was nearly unstoppable on Tecmo Superbowl

@VTimHokie85

I mentioned Cunningham. And yes there were both well before him, but Steve Young was still considered a true quarterback even though he could run. I'm not saying that Vick was the first one the NFL ever saw, I'm saying that the prior to Vick, it was voodoo to draft a mobile quarterback so high and entrust him with your franchise. But then Vick got taken #1 overall and it changed the perception of mobile quarterbacks, which helped some of the athletic qbs we see today to be taken so high and be looked at as true quarterbacks and not athletic, short term solutions.

Kendall Fuller - future Thorpe winner

Old School

Before the forward pass came into being all QBs wre running QBs. Passing was only a minor part of the game at first so every QB was a dual threat.

This is actually a devolution of the QB position from the pure passer to the way it used to be.

I think this trend is more of a response to the way defenses have evolved to defend the passing game. The QB is left unguarded to better defend the pass. If you have a fast running QB he can make big plays running. The read option is about taking advantage of the mismatch by pressuring a single defender to cover either the QB or the RB.

Running the read option/dual threat requires a QB with the right skills and athletic abilities. MV7 had the right package.