Tony DeMeo

If He Doesn’t Fit, Does He Have to Sit?

One of the buzz phrases that I heard often this fall was the complaint that “the Quarterback just doesn’t fit their system” This is the explanation of why an offense is doing a dance – one, two, three & kick. Whose fault is this? How is it fixed? Should a coach sit a talented Quarterback because he doesn’t fit his system?

One team that had the constant drumbeat that the QB doesn’t fit the Offense was the Washington Redskins. Apparently their lack of success was due to the fact RGIII did not fit Jay Gruden’s Offense. So a quarterback that won The Heisman Trophy in college for Baylor – yes I said Baylor – then was The Rookie of the Year in the NFL doesn’t fit the offense. This is the same RGIII who set the NCAA record for Pass Efficiency & has world class speed but doesn’t fit. Wow, that’s all I can say. So what’s the solution? Do you squeeze a square peg in a round hole? Do you sit a talented QB on the bench? Do you change your system?

Let’s look at how Super Bowl winning coach Pete Carroll handled it. When Pete came to Seattle he had never had a running QB. He didn’t have a running QB at USC nor in his previous stops at New England and the Jets. So it’s safe to say that a running quarterback was never a part of the “Pete Carroll System” So in his first season he drafts the “too short” Russell Wilson in the third round as basically a backup. BUT plans changed when Wilson added a dynamic dimension to the Seahawks Offense that propelled into the playoffs. Coach Carroll added the Zone Read, designed QB runs, bootlegs, nakeds and other plays to fit Wilson’s unique talents. The result was a Super Bowl Championship for The Seattle Seahawks. Adapting your “system” to the talent available is the essence of coaching.

I’ve been an option coach my entire coaching career going from The Wishbone to The Multi-Bone and eventually to The Triple Gun. So when I took over the program at The University of Charleston, I was concerned that they had been an unsuccessful Spread team without a running QB. But I liked the QBs I inherited because they worked hard, were very smart, were tough and bought into the Triple Gun Offense. So did I abandon the Option? That would have been like Batman trading in the Batmobile. No I adapted the reads in the option game, (pitched off the hand-off key etc.) threw the ball more and used the portions of The Triple Gun that highlighted their strengths. The result was an 8-3 record in our first season – the biggest single season turnaround in conference history.

After those Quarterbacks graduated (with Honors) my next quarterback was 5’7″ but an outstanding runner so now we emphasized more Option and double option. This QB set the National DII record for Pass Efficiency in 2009, set the school Touchdown record & led us to 19th ranking in the AFCA poll.

One of the secrets to our success was that our system, The Triple Gun Offense was so flexible we could adapt it to any quarterback. We could emphasize certain aspects of the offense based on the strengths of the particular athlete we had pulling the trigger. So any quarterback could fit our system. Coaching Point: Emphasize strengths don’t bemoan weaknesses.

So my advice to coaches who are crying about quarterbacks who don’t fit. Make your system easier to fit in.