Gus Frerotte puts NFL QB mobility in context

As Gus Frerotte observed, some quarterbacks who were considered mobile in his era might not be considered mobile by today's standards

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
September 24, 2020 - 10:59 am
Lamar Jackson Ravens

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If you ask rookies about the biggest difference between college football and the NFL, odds are they’ll say the speed of the game. Well, if you ask former players about the biggest difference between past quarterbacks and current quarterbacks, they’ll probably say the speed of the player.

“Just the athleticism,” former NFL quarterback and current HuddleUpWithGus podcast host Gus Frerotte said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I think back in the day, you had a lot of pocket passers. You had some guys that could run around obviously – Michael Vick, Randall Cunningham, Steve Young – and there were some other quarterbacks that could run. John Elway was always known as a runner, but he wasn’t juking people out. He wasn’t doing a Lamar Jackson or Patrick Mahomes.”

Frerotte, 49, played in the NFL from 1994 to 2008. He has seen the position evolve a great deal since his retirement.

“Most of us were pocket-passers,” he said. “You’d stand in the pocket, you were a statue, and you’re just moving in that little box area between the tackles. It’s kind of how the position was built. We look at Dan Marino as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, and I don’t know how many rush yards he’s ever had in his career.”

Marino carried 301 times in his career for 87 yards. Jackson rushed for more than 87 yards seven times last season.

“The game has changed tremendously,” Frerotte said. “But they also make it a lot of fun to watch.”

If Frerotte could pick one quarterback with whom to start a franchise, other than Mahomes, he would take Jackson.

“I think that he’s getting better and better at reading the defenses, getting rid of the ball,” he said. “He shows that he can make the throws week in and week out. When you watch him run, it’s electric. He can make guys miss, he can escape danger – sometimes I watch and I’m just in awe. . . . Obviously there are some other quarterbacks that are out there that are tremendous. Joe Burrow is going to be really good. Even him, he’s athletic, you see him run the ball. He’s just got to figure out how to take care of his body [in terms of] getting the first down and throwing it away and all those things.”

Still, as so many teams shift to mobile quarterbacks, it’s incredible to see signal-callers like Tom Brady and Drew Brees still have success after all these years. Their work ethic, particularly in the offseason, is the stuff of legend.

“That’s what you have to do,” Frerotte said. “Their minds are still sharp, but once your body starts breaking down, you can’t make the throws. You can’t whip that ball 20 yards downfield like you used to. Then there’s always somebody that’s coming up to take your spot.”