Gone are the days when an NFL team would draft a quarterback early in the first round and let him sit on the bench as they slowly unfolded.
Franchises expect a young quarterback to take the reins immediately and succeed. But a large part of his success depends on the roster that surrounds them and the abilities of the coaching staff to develop them quickly.
During a recent appearance on SiriusXM’s NFL Radio channel, three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Alex Smith shared his thoughts on whether he believed coaches with defensive backgrounds are equipped to bring a young signal caller up to speed.
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«There’s a different mindset than in my career, when you’re playing for an offensive head coach who wants to light up the scoring and get past the opponent,» Smith said.
«You have a different mindset, especially as a young quarterback versus a defensive head coach, when really the [coach’s] the mindset is, ‘Hey, don’t screw it up, don’t fumble, don’t put us in a bad situation.’ … That’s a big difference in the mindset and way of thinking for a young quarterback, especially if it’s a little tough starting out.»
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Smith said that, in his opinion, some of New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson’s shortcomings can be traced directly to his head coach, Robert Saleh.
Before being named head coach in New York in 2021, Saleh spent four seasons as the defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers.
«Robert Saleh, you’re a great defensive mind and coordinator, but you have no idea how to develop a quarterback,» Smith said. «The coordinator you hired never called the works. So, that’s a whole different animal. And as much as you think you’re prepared to handle a toddler’s development, you just aren’t.»
Currently, most of the head coaches in the league come from offensive backgrounds.
The 12 NFL coaches who worked on the defensive end of football before becoming head coaches are: Patriots coach Bill Belichick Texans coach DeMeco Ryans Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon Bills coach Sean McDermott, Bears coach Matt Eberflus and Saints coach Dennis Allen. , Chargers Coach Brandon Staley, Buccaneers Coach Todd Bowles, Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin, Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll, Titans Coach Mike Vrabel, and the Commanders, Ron Rivera.
The rest of the league’s coaches spent their careers on the offensive end of the ball or coached special teams.
If an offensive coordinator is successful, he or she will usually quickly attract the interest of several teams looking to fill a head coaching vacancy.
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Heading into the 2023 season, the Jets won’t focus on developing a young quarterback. Instead, the team will turn its attention to trying to get four-time league MVP Aaron Rodgers to adjust to the offense. Rodgers has the advantage of being able to work with his former offensive coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett.
Hackett was the Packers’ offensive coordinator from 2019 to 2021.