David Cutcliffe on what's changed about quarterback development
In the past, grooming a quarterback was a lot like planting an oak tree. You'd pick out your favorite, stick it in the ground, come back in a year or three and see what sprouted up.
Now we live in a world where players like Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Johnny Manziel and Marcus Mariota, to name a few, can step in at the tops of their respective professions from day one. That tree had better be full grown the day it goes in the ground.
If there's anyone that understands this process, or anything at all related to grooming quarterbacks, it's David Cutcliffe. The guy who groomed Peyton and Eli Manning, the coach who prolific passing attack to take Duke to a bowl game, has an answer.
"Before, you were managing a lot of things at the line scrimmage," Cutcliffe told ESPN.com. We really actually simplified it with no-huddle, code words. And then from a read standpoint, every play is a choice play. Do I hand it off or do I throw it? Do I hand it off or keep it? It's really not rocket science anyway. But it's not overcomplicating a bunch of third-down decision-making.
"When I was training Peyton Manning, for example, the training process was so different in learning defenses and coverages. Now we're going so fast, we've made it so hard to play defense, you keep people within a parameter. I don't think it's as hard to play quarterback as it once was -- from the neck up."
As the game of football has been sped up and spread out, the quarterback position has become easier to master at an earlier age.
"You gotta remember," Cutcliffe continued, "these high school young men are so exposed, and hopefully not overexposed, to all of these travel 7-on-7s, [increasing] the number of reps alone. Repetition is how you get better at putting, at driving a golf ball, hitting a tennis ball, and it's certainly true in football ... . Everything out there tells you athletes are being developed over a 12-month period."