Last week, Bruce Arians’ released a book that revealed that he battled cancer while coaching the Cardinals last season. Also in that book, is a scathing hot take on college quarterbacks that play in spread systems that is sure to drive some discussion.
Arians has worked with some of the best NFL quarterbacks the league has had to offer the past decade-plus during their prime, including Peyton Manning in Indianapolis and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger.
PFT points out that Arians controversially notes in his book, The Quarterback Whisperer, that college spread quarterbacks lack the most important trait needed to become a successful quarterback.
“The most important trait needed to become a QB is leadership. But there is no leadership required of the quarterback in [the college] version of the spread. He doesn’t talk to his teammates in the huddle, he doesn’t change the snap count — hell, he barely even reads the defense. The college spread quarterback doesn’t learn the mental and physical skills needed to execute the intricacies of the NFL game. That puts the college spread QBs who aspire to play and succeed in the NFL at a distinct disadvantage.”
Granted, all coaches understand that there are different versions of the spread, and just because you line up with 3, 4, or 5 wide receivers doesn’t mean you’re all running the same stuff. Ohio State’s version of the spread is much different than Washington State’s.
Arians argues that teams that employ the spread-no huddle approach where they put a value on getting as many snaps in as possible and somehow overlook, or undervalue, developing the quarterback as a leader. I’m not buying it.
I know college, and high school coaches will argue this passionately. Normally, I’m a huge Bruce Arians fan, but maybe it’s time that the NFL adapt and bend a bit and start to figure out how to use these really successful spread quarterbacks at the NFL level, instead of complaining about how not ready they are for the next level. Arians isn’t alone in sharing this belief among NFL coaches, and that thought process is logic that I, as a fan of college football, have never really understood.
High school guys may understand the concept I’m alluding to perhaps better than any level. Adapt to your personnel, because complaining when you’re personnel doesn’t adapt to you is shortsighted and just plain silly when a big part of your evaluation as a coach at any level is wins and losses.
Besides, there are certainly a lot of addditional ways to show leadership beyond changing a snap count, reading a defense, or knowing the “intricacies of the NFL game.”