Playing quarterback in the NFL is by far the hardest thing to do in professional sports. Being a baseball team’s ace or the go-to star on a basketball team are both incredibly difficult positions to be in, but nothing in team sports will ever compare to being an NFL organization’s signal caller. Not only are the on-the-field tasks grueling, but also franchises expect quarterbacks to be the face of their team. To give you a bit of insight into just how challenging it is, here’s a story from Tori McElhaney of the team website:
“It was during the Washington game in Week 4 of the 2021 season when the headsets went out. Normally used for Arthur Smith and the coaching staff to communicate with Matt Ryan on the field, there was only silence. And without missing a beat, Ryan continued. A decade’s worth of experience improvising made it just a small frustration.”
It might not seem like much, but in the hustle and bustle of an NFL game, it is sometimes forgotten how stressful little moments like that can be. However, the only way to prepare for the inevitable situations like that in live-action is to put quarterbacks in similar positions in practice.
“You try to build those (situations) in because you don’t want to sit there and call a timeout every time,” Arthur Smith said. “That’s their job to fix things at times, too.”
Another coach on the staff dubs it ‘rescuing themselves and rescuing the team.’
“We talk to the guys a lot at the position that they have to learn to rescue themselves and rescue the team,” quarterbacks coach Charles London said. “During a game day, we’re not out there helping them. They have to rescue themselves and get the guys in the right spot. They’ve gotta know what to do. They’ve gotta point (the offense) in the right direction. It’s part of the job of being a quarterback to try to point them in that direction.”
It’s encouraging to see the Falcons staff is putting Desmond Ridder and Marcus Mariota in these situations, especially the rookie, who is expected to be the franchise quarterback in Atlanta eventually. Quarterback is much more about what’s above the neck than anything else. Many people only analyze them through physical attributes, and it’ll never be an efficient way to grade the position. The thing that separates average signal callers from the exceptional ones is the ability to beat defenses with the mind before the body, and it seems Ridder is learning that.
Photographer: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire