As good as the 2012 class of rookie quarterbacks were, coaches will be looking for more in 2013.
There are things that NFL coaches want to see from their quarterbacks as they enter year No. 2. Even with such a talented crop of second-year quarterbacks in Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III, coaches are going to want to see more.
The main thing they're looking for is improvement. While that may seem like an obvious statement, there are certain areas of the game where a quarterback needs to improve in their second season in the NFL.
Today I'm going to take you through these specific areas of improvement that coaches want to see in year two.
Look at the great quarterbacks in the NFL and you'll see that one thing they excel at is not turning the ball over.
Rookies can often have a difficult time handling the speed of the NFL game, as they've never played against 11 defenders as quick and talented as an NFL team's starting lineup. This causes them to make errors and ultimately turn the ball over.
Cam Newton is a perfect example of a quarterback who improved on ball security during his sophomore season. As you can see in the chart below, Newton threw less overall interceptions and had a lower attempt-to-interception ratio as well.
|Year||Attempts||Interceptions||Passes per Interception|
All statistics courtesy of NFL.com.
Coaches can handle a large amount of errors in year one, but they need to see ball security improvement going forward.
One thing that rookie quarterbacks struggle with is pocket presence. They’re used to their offensive line dominating in the college game and having all the time in the world to throw the ball.
That simply isn’t how it is in the NFL. You have to know where pressure is coming from or else you’re going to struggle.
Blaine Gabbert is the perfect example of a second-year quarterback struggling to grasp pocket presence. During his rookie season, Gabbert looked like a deer in the headlights whenever pressure came his way. He’d become afraid and simply couldn’t make a play whenever there was a defensive player in his midst.
Unfortunately, instead of Gabbert improving on this quality during his second season, he made little to no improvement at all.
Ignore the music in the video above and watch how Gabbert moves directly into the pressure caused by the Cincinnati Bengals to take a sack. Instead of rolling out right where he could extend the play, Gabbert runs directly into Domata Peko.
Coaches can put up with that type of behavior during the rookie season, but that behavior needs to change during the second year. Quarterbacks need to be able to feel the pressure and make the proper adjustments.
No matter who you are coming out of college, a 10-year veteran is going to have a hard time entrusting their team to a 21-year-old kid. The final area that a coach wants to see an improvement from in their second-year quarterback is in their role as a leader.
Coaches want to see their franchise quarterback in complete command of the huddle, executing the two-minute drill with the poise of a veteran.
During the 2013 NFL draft, Robert Griffin III was seen doing jumping jacks and jogging around the stage at the Washington Redskins' 2013 NFL draft party. Griffin said at the event, according to Stephen Czarda of Redskins.com:
“I’m good. You guys saw me jumping; I can run a little bit [too]. So I’ll be good, no worries,” Griffin III said with a smile on his face. “I’ll take it slow, but at the same time I’ll be ready to go.”
That type of effort to be ready to play at the start of the season after a serious injury proves that Griffin is ready to be the true leader of the team.
From taking control during offseason training camps to legitimately putting forth an effort to improve in preseason, second-year quarterbacks need to step up as the leader of their respective teams.
Offensive veterans that don't trust their quarterback tend to struggle. When veterans struggle they can't help the younger players on their roster, which in turn negatively affects the entire team.
All of these areas are where coaches want to see a quarterback improve during their second season. Failure to do so could cause an owner or GM to seriously question whether or not they should stick with that quarterback for a third year.
From Luck, Griffin and Russell to Brandon Weeden and others, coaches will be looking for more from their sophomore quarterbacks entering the 2013 season.