Legendary, Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton once penned a column titled ”
How to earn your stripes” in the 70’s where he talks about quarterbacking, in which he discusses wiping out half the field when reading coverages & primary receivers.
Here are a few excerpts from Tarkenton’s column.
“I don’t try to read an entire coverage. It’s impossible. Nobody’s got that kind of peripheral vision. My system is to read one or two men. On a lot of patterns, I’ll read the middle linebacker. Or the free safety. As soon as I get the snap of the ball, they’re committed one way or the other. Their movement tells me where I’m going to go, which half of the field I should concentrate on.”
“I don’t care if the defensive back falls down on the other side, and one of my guys is jumping up and down, waving for a touchdown pass, there’s no way I’m going to see him. I’ve already wiped that half of the field out of my mind.”
According to Tarkenton, “Everybody’s a primary receiver. There is no such thing as a secondary receiver. Everybody starts out as a primary receiver. I might have five guys out there in the pattern. How can I be sure which of those five guys I’m going to throw to when the defense has maybe twelve different coverage’s it can run? The way the defense revolves is what dictates’ who my receiver is going to be. It takes study – and good coaching – for a quarterback to learn who are the one or two people to read on each pass pattern. Read the right men, and they’ll tell you who your primary receiver is.”
When Tarkenton retired from the NFL, he lead the league in four different passing categories attempts (6,467), competitions (3,686), yards (47,003), and touchdowns (342).
With the Bucs spending a first round pick, on what they assume will be a franchise quarterback in Josh Freeman. It is now time for Freeman to become a student of the game. Whether or not he will ultimately grasp the art of reading more complex defenses at the NFL level remains to be seen and one of the things that will decide his fate.
But if given the necessary tools and the nohow to understand what he’s seeing week in & week out, with the general ability to apply it not only in the classroom, but also in live game situations. Freeman has the physical tools to compete at a very high level within the NFL. It has been stated numerous times throughout the history of football that the game is more mental then physical.
With the success of the franchise now riding on Freeman’s ability to read, anticipate and decipher complex defensive schemes. Lets hope he has the study habits, and the mental capacity to break things down frame by frame and the ability to understand what went wrong with each pass attempt whether it was mechanical or mental. To ensure certain mistakes are not repeated over time, thusly becoming habits or atleast the wherewithal to seek out advice.