Orlovsky: It Takes 18 Months To Learn Offense

Whether you're a rookie QB or a veteran, learning an NFL offense takes time

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
May 11, 2018 - 10:10 am

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This year’s crop of NFL rookies has been through a lot: multiple college football seasons, the Combine, interviews, and the NFL Draft.

Now the real work begins. Now they have to learn an NFL offense. 

As former NFL quarterback Dan Orlvosky can attest, the mindset behind that has changed drastically over the years. 

“Back a couple years ago, every team really just tried to take all of their rookies and just drown them with information and give them all of their offense in three days,” Orlovsky said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “That was the goal. Teams would give them everything and see how they handled it. Then you put them on the practice field and run them for a couples hours a day.”

These days, however, many teams are taking a different approach.

“I think teams are handling it a little bit differently because they realized that’s probably not the smartest thing to do,” Orlovsky said of information overload. “The biggest thing is when you take these kids, everything is new to them. The reality is for the quarterbacks, they’re throwing a new football competitively for the first time. The speed is different. The timing is different. The equipment staff they’re working with is different. You want to get them inside your building and up to speed as much as you can so that when OTAs start and your big boys are here, your veterans are there, that your rookies have a chance to go and at least fit in somewhat, that they don’t have to stand in the back and do nothing. 

“So you’re just trying to get them comfortable enough in your systems and walking around the building, your workout, your weight-room facilities, your training facilities so that they’re slowly oozing into being a part of your football team.”

Orlovsky, who played in the NFL for more than a decade, said that digesting new information is “absolutely” the biggest challenge for rookie quarterbacks.

“Whether it’s a new QB or a veteran, to learn a new offense in the NFL, it takes about 16 to 18 months to really learn it and feel comfortable with it,” Orlovsky said, “whether that’s a guy coming out of college or a guy that’s been in the NFL for six or seven years. Everything is just different. It’s like the Rosetta Stone: You’re learning a whole new language, and it doesn’t happen overnight. 

“So when you’re taking quarterbacks and giving them information, I don't necessarily subscribe to the thought of, ‘Let’s just bury them with stuff,’” Orlovsky continued. “Because then their minds start going in all kinds of crazy directions. I like baby-feeding them a little bit. The information is just so much and it’s so overwhelming that if you give them too much too early, you’re not going to see the player that you want to see.”