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Fine Line: holding ball too long vs. using athleticism to extend plays


NoCalMike

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So as this is the bye week, I am a little more relaxed than a usual Sunday morning and having a chance to browse all the games around the league.

 

Something that is jumping out to me, especially when it comes to the "athlete" QB's, is how much double-speak you hear in the commentary in regards to their play.  It's almost like the result of the play is used to frame the discussion of what went wrong/right.

 

For example, I am watching the 49ers vs. Saints, and any time Kap is sacked, it is his fault because he held onto the ball too long, yet the same commentators will turn around and praise him for holding onto the ball for "too long" and extending a play attempting to wait for something to break open downfield.  There seems to be no difference in the situation/circumstances of the play, just that one time it resulted in a completion and the other a sack.

 

Both plays, no one was open initially, so Kap pulled the ball down and ran sideways to buy time.  One time it resulted in a great play, the other a sack for a loss. 

 

I bring up this in The Stadium forum as an example because it seems we get a lot of the same kind of commentary when it comes to Robert.  If holding onto the ball and extending the play results in a big completion, then it is heralded as something that "only a few QB's can do" but if he does the same thing 3 plays later, and a defender tracks him down somehow, then suddenly it's all about how he holds the ball too long.

 

So I suppose the question is.  When you have an athletic QB that is able to extend plays.  Are both these results something that are to be expected, as far as great plays AND sacks?  Do you think a coach is more willing to take the extra sacks as a bi-product of having a QB that will just as well extend those same plays and get huge gains out of them?

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It comes down to results.  If a player in the NBA shoots 10 3's a game most would argue that he's shooting way too many.  Unless he hits 5 of them consistently. 

 

If RG3 runs out of the pocket and consistently delivers a positive result no one would care.  We'd say he's great. 

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It's goes hand in hand.

QBs that extend plays sometimes get sacked in the process. It's a trade off.

Aaron Rodgers and Ben Rothlisberger are both known for holding the ball.

Sometimes it's also about scheme vertical passing take more sacks then quick 3-step passing game.

There are pros and cons to everything.

The same fans that will **** about Griff sacks will cheer like hell when he extends makes and makes a pass.

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Great points! I was thinking the same thing today as well. The Saints don't have a good defensive front and the 49ers have a very good offensive line. But Kap was sacked four times by the saints and each time they mentioned he held on to the ball to long.

 

Drew Brees held onto the ball much longer than Kap, including the last play where he fumbled in the pocket.. Funny...You didn't hear the commentators mention he was olding on to the ball to long during the game.

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To me this is. It robert's issue at all. It has much less to do with holding onto the ball longer and much more to do with his pocket presence, situational awareness and movement in the pocket. Robert only knows two modes:

1) Stand there like an absolute statue or worse, step right into pressure/sack

2) Scramble outside the pocket

One of the biggest flaws in his game in my opinion is his complete inability to just slide around in the pocket to buy himself some time and make his line look better. It's something you are made acutely aware of when you watch Brees or Manning or even Luck as opposed to Robert. He is the reason for at least half of his sacks and it rarely has to do with him just padding the ball back there it's usually him running right into a guy or just standing there like his feet are in mud.

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To me this is. It robert's issue at all. It has much less to do with holding onto the ball longer and much more to do with his pocket presence, situational awareness and movement in the pocket. Robert only knows two modes:

1) Stand there like an absolute statue or worse, step right into pressure/sack

2) Scramble outside the pocket

One of the biggest flaws in his game in my opinion is his complete inability to just slide around in the pocket to buy himself some time and make his line look better. It's something you are made acutely aware of when you watch Brees or Manning or even Luck as opposed to Robert. He is the reason for at least half of his sacks and it rarely has to do with him just padding the ball back there it's usually him running right into a guy or just standing there like his feet are in mud.

This is exactly right. It is not when he escapes the pocket to extend plays. This is a good thing.

The bad thing is when he holds the ball too long in the pocket.

He needs to be able to get the ball out before the pocket collapses....(which is not very long most times).

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I think you have to grade it on a per play basis.  If there is an open option, and RG3, doesn't pull the trigger, then scrambles and makes a play off schedule.  To me its still a negative in terms of his development as a passer, even if it results in yardage gained.  Extending a play that was already there is the lower percentage play over time. 

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I think there's an additional meaning to "holding onto the ball too long," and I think it's a legitimate criticism of RG3. It's a matter of waiting just a beat too long to get rid of the ball, a matter of timing with his receivers. He needs to trust his receiver to get to the ball on the break, even if he doesn't look open at decision time. Lacking that trust, he waits a beat or two... holding onto the ball too long... and it disrupts the timing of the pattern. It will improve with experience.

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To me this is. It robert's issue at all. It has much less to do with holding onto the ball longer and much more to do with his pocket presence, situational awareness and movement in the pocket. Robert only knows two modes:

1) Stand there like an absolute statue or worse, step right into pressure/sack

2) Scramble outside the pocket

One of the biggest flaws in his game in my opinion is his complete inability to just slide around in the pocket to buy himself some time and make his line look better. It's something you are made acutely aware of when you watch Brees or Manning or even Luck as opposed to Robert. He is the reason for at least half of his sacks and it rarely has to do with him just padding the ball back there it's usually him running right into a guy or just standing there like his feet are in mud.

Hopefully he can learn that. This is where the injuries have killed him. He really needed this entire season to improve in this area.

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I've been thinking on this subject a lot as well.  I work with some guys who have grown to hate RGIII and insist he holds the ball too long.  While I agree that he needs to learn to read defenses better so that he can pull the trigger faster, you only have to look as far as Kirk Cousins to see the flip side.  

 

Cousins reads defenses better than Robert, but his problem is that he puts too much faith in his initial read and doesn't deviate, which is the main reason for his multiple turnovers.  Once the ball is snapped, the defense may change up its coverage from the initial look they gave, or his receiver may be running the route differently than anticipated, etc....  but unfortunately Cousins "locks in" with the decision he made pre-snap and goes with it.

 

Griffin, on the flip side, doesn't read defenses as well as Cousins does, therefore he typically makes his decisions after the snap... after he sees what the actual coverage is.  So while this does cause Griffin to miss opportunities for completions (& take unecessary sacks), it also results in far fewer turnovers (typically).

 

It boils down to what we (& more importantly, the coaches) want from their QB.  Turnovers & Sacks are both drive killers, but at least taking a sack typically will leave you with opportunities to to try again, despite the loss of momentum.

 

I'm torn on the subject because it seems to me that one can be a successful NFL-caliber QB either way...  I only +hope RGIII is able to learn to read & anticipate better so that we can experience the best of both worlds!

 

(I'm NOT trying to turn this into an RGIII vs. K.Cousins debate!  I just wanted to illustrate the difference in styles)

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 Well, one reason he 'may' hold the ball too long is this;

Separation. When the WRs cannot get separation, where can the ball be thrown to? This holds true for every QB in the league. When the QB and WRs are on the same page, and have developed a chemistry or system with each other, i.e.; hand signals, the look, etc, its a totally different route being run than originally planned.

 

 As Khun stated, Cousins good part was hitting that first read, but that was dependent on the WR getting open; sometimes they did, sometimes they didn't.

 

 Griffin has that mental 'rely-on' in the back of his head; he's played that way all his life, and its not something that just goes away. When pressure comes, that survival part rules over the play, so he takes off to avoid pressure; WRs have to recognize when he's under pressure and come back; at times they do but i've seen alot of games where the WR runs his route, then all but stands still, waiting to see where the QB is running/looking to, THEN they try and get open, and it usually doesn't work.

 

 He's gonna hold the ball, but holding the ball is a no-no when the line can't protect him. He has to run somewhere or get killed behind the line; while Polumbus is standing all alone eating his boogers.

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What ****ing pocket?  There is no pocket.  The OL is often in the QB's lap.  They are all turnstiles except for Trent.  And our center isn't excused from this criticism.

 

How can Robert have confidence and trust in the WRs and TEs when they drop the ball, or not open?  I can see why Robert hesitates.  We need to get those guys playing pitch and catch to get the trust factor developed.

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Cousins reads defenses better than Robert, but his problem is that he puts too much faith in his initial read and doesn't deviate, which is the main reason for his multiple turnovers.  Once the ball is snapped, the defense may change up its coverage from the initial look they gave, or his receiver may be running the route differently than anticipated, etc....  but unfortunately Cousins "locks in" with the decision he made pre-snap and goes with it.

 

Griffin, on the flip side, doesn't read defenses as well as Cousins does, therefore he typically makes his decisions after the snap... after he sees what the actual coverage is.  So while this does cause Griffin to miss opportunities for completions (& take unecessary sacks), it also results in far fewer turnovers (typically).

 

Why do people say this stuff? Cousins reads defenses better than RGIII?

 

Cousins was picking a receiver based on a pre snap 'read' and the ball was going to that receiver most times come whatever. He was not seeing the field and post snap coverage changes, was having a hard time getting off that first read and was forcing throws.

 

I may bump a thread I did a while ago about reading coverages and what that actually means. Post snap is just as important as pre snap. If you throw based on a pre snap read without reconfirming that read your throwing blind.

 

With a bit of training you and I can stand under centre and read coverages - the hard bit starts after the snap.

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What ****ing pocket?  There is no pocket.  The OL is often in the QB's lap.  They are all turnstiles except for Trent.  And our center isn't excused from this criticism.

 

How can Robert have confidence and trust in the WRs and TEs when they drop the ball, or not open?  I can see why Robert hesitates.  We need to get those guys playing pitch and catch to get the trust factor developed.

Thank you...

 

It's idiotic how people don't see there's NO pocket. Almost every throw against Minn, he was getting hit or someone being pushed into him as he was throwing. Don't believe me, go back and watch - I have...

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So I suppose the question is.  When you have an athletic QB that is able to extend plays.  Are both these results something that are to be expected, as far as great plays AND sacks?  Do you think a coach is more willing to take the extra sacks as a bi-product of having a QB that will just as well extend those same plays and get huge gains out of them?

You don't have to look any further than Rodgers ... sacked an average of 34 times a season since he became a starter, one of those years he was sacked 64 times.  Consistently in the top 10.  But he's a god, I mean, his numbers are off the charts. 

 

Nobody in the NFL had more negative yards than Barry Sanders ... but that's cause of the gambles he took, but they paid off. 

 

If you are a QB that can move, you are going to get sacked, just because you have the ability to gamble.  

 

I bet, if Manning or Brady were blessed with the ability to run, they would not be the QB's they are today. But, same goes for Rodgers, Montana, Young. If they were not as mobile, who knows what kind of careers they would have had. 

What ****ing pocket?  There is no pocket.  The OL is often in the QB's lap.  They are all turnstiles except for Trent.  And our center isn't excused from this criticism.

 

How can Robert have confidence and trust in the WRs and TEs when they drop the ball, or not open?  I can see why Robert hesitates.  We need to get those guys playing pitch and catch to get the trust factor developed.

 

 

Thank you...

 

It's idiotic how people don't see there's NO pocket. Almost every throw against Minn, he was getting hit or someone being pushed into him as he was throwing. Don't believe me, go back and watch - I have...

 

I've gone back and seen a lot of Robert the last few years, and no doubt, he gets almost no time a lot. but he also just blows it, so I would pin about 65% on OL and 35% on Robert either not getting to the next read, or not being able to pull the trigger and throw a receiver open on that first read, or what ever it is. 

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Thank you...

 

It's idiotic how people don't see there's NO pocket. Almost every throw against Minn, he was getting hit or someone being pushed into him as he was throwing. Don't believe me, go back and watch - I have...

 

2nd, 3rd, and 5th sack against Minny are his fault for either not making the throw or bad decisions. There were players he could have thrown the ball to, but for whatever reason, he decided against it and took the sack. Those weren't on the OL or lack of pocket. http://hail22.com/2014/11/04/robert-griffin-iii-responsible-for-sacks-in-vikings-loss/

 

Here are some other plays where he just made bad decisions, even when a good pocket was there. http://hail22.com/2014/11/04/reviewing-negatives-robert-griffin-iiis-performance-vikings/

 

I'm not putting the loss on him. But to say that there's no pocket is just making excuses for him. 

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Lol, people still say Kirk reads defenses better.

 

 

Why do people say this stuff? Cousins reads defenses better than RGIII?

 

Cousins was picking a receiver based on a pre snap 'read' and the ball was going to that receiver most times come whatever. He was not seeing the field and post snap coverage changes, was having a hard time getting off that first read and was forcing throws.

 

I may bump a thread I did a while ago about reading coverages and what that actually means. Post snap is just as important as pre snap. If you throw based on a pre snap read without reconfirming that read your throwing blind.

 

With a bit of training you and I can stand under centre and read coverages - the hard bit starts after the snap.

 

Out of likes, so here's a post to say "I agree". I'm assuming this is what the software developers wanted.

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Why do people say this stuff? Cousins reads defenses better than RGIII?

 

Cousins was picking a receiver based on a pre snap 'read' and the ball was going to that receiver most times come whatever. He was not seeing the field and post snap coverage changes, was having a hard time getting off that first read and was forcing throws.

 

I may bump a thread I did a while ago about reading coverages and what that actually means. Post snap is just as important as pre snap. If you throw based on a pre snap read without reconfirming that read your throwing blind.

 

With a bit of training you and I can stand under centre and read coverages - the hard bit starts after the snap.

 

This is an excellent point and I'm glad you're correcting me.  I've always felt that fans were selling RGIII short by saying "he can't read defenses".  As RGIII once said on the subject himself, of COURSE he can read defenses or he wouldn't be in the NFL.  The issue is probably has more to do with the SPEED at which he deciphers what he sees.  (would you agree?)

 

And I do totally agree with what you said regarding pre- vs. post-snap reads.  From what I've heard Cooley saying on 980 during his film breakdowns, it seems that Cousins makes up his mind what he's doing pre-snap and has a very hard time deviating from it.  RGIII, while definitely having his faults, doesn't have that issue.

 

Please link the post you mentioned, I believe I missed it and would like to read it!

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Some very valid points here. Been really enjoying this thread so far. Personally I think it's a combination of quite a few of the things mentioned. I think our O-line is still built to move for the run. So it tends to leave a lot to be desired in pass blocking scenarios, especially on the right side. Which leads to that side collapsing faster, which means his first option when it comes to getting outside the pocket (the path allowing him to move the direction his body is already facing) becomes hindered because of the large gentleman now in front of his face waiting to introduce him to the dirt.

 

But I also think Griff tends to make some poor decisions every now and then when he's in short drop scenarios. It seems that when he's shallow in his drop he tends to hesitate a little bit stepping up or out. Not all his fault, that pocket collapses pretty quick. But at the same time we've seen a lot of instances where he's been sacked out of what seems to be sheer reluctance to just step forward. I would certainly argue that these situations are coachable and fixable with experience though.

 

In regards to the commentary, as mentioned above I think it's a matter of just finding things to say without repeating themselves. Although their look in the booth extends to the whole field. Which we don't see on TV. So if one of the commentators sees open receivers downfield, that's certainly going to impact their analysis of what happened.

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