Have you ever heard a football pundit refer to a player as a system quarterback and wondered to yourself what they were talking about? Well, you are not alone many pundits and announcers use this term despite many football fans not knowing what it means.
A system quarterback in football is a quarterback that is successful due to the coaching staff and scheme he plays in.
System quarterbacks are not usually going to be successful on other teams around the league. As it is the current system that the quarterback is in that drives his success.
Key Traits Of A System Quarterback
No Success Outside Of The System
One way to know that a player is system quarterback is that they only had success under a single system. If a quarterback decides to leave a team after several years and abruptly falls off, then there is a good chance they were a system quarterback.
You can often see this with quarterbacks drafted by a high-quality coaching staff. The staff will often pick up on their strengths and utilize them to build the system around the quarterback.
Once the quarterback leaves this staff they will have to go to a new team and adapt to their system.
A true systems quarterback doesn’t have the ability to adapt and play well in new systems. If you see a quarterback succeed in on one team and then continually fail on others is safe to say that the system may be the reason.
They Have A Specific Skill Set
Another key trait of a system quarterback is that they have a specific skill set. What we mean by this is that these players have a skill set that more or less fits a specific system.
Say Lamar Jackson for example. This quarterback is especially good at leading a run-heavy offense. Lamar’s ability to run the ball and keep plays alive in the pocket are what make the Ravens offense successful.
If Lamar was put into Matt Ryans pass-heavy offense in Atalanta it would not be much of a fit.
In other words, if a player is especially good at one portion of the game then there is a higher likely hood they are a system quarterback.
Making Their Plays Inside Of The Playbook
Another way to tell if a player is a system quarterback is by looking at what makes their offense successful. If the player gains his yards and scores using only plays built into the playbook then he is more likely a system quarterback.
If this quarterback is calling audibles or scrambling in the pocket and finding an open receiver then he is less likely to be a system quarterback. This is because players that succeed outside the playbook can succeed in any environment.
If the quarterback is relying on a playbook to gain all his yardage then it is more likely that he needs to play in the system to be successful.
How To Tell If A Player Is Not A System Quarterback
The easiest way to show that a player is not a system quarterback is simply by playing in multiple systems. The best example of this is long time patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
When Randy Moss came to town Brady became a deep ball offense often looking to strecth the field and beat defenders over the top.
Yet when the receiving core weakened and the defense stepped up Brady transitioned to a dink and dunk offense that kept the chains moving.
This sort of success in multiple systems is one of the only sure-fire ways to prove that a player is not a system quarterback.