Why are the LA Rams are enamored with mobile QBs?

Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Rams John Wolford
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Diverse offensive formations

One of the first areas that differs when deploying a mobile quarterback in an NFL offense is the expansive number of formations that a playcaller can use that is not directly dependant upon the strength of the offensive line in the game. With a pocket passer, there is often a need to retain at least one running back in the backfield to pick up a blitzing defender during a passing play.

Empty backfield sets – LA Rams HC McVay loves to run empty backfields on offensive sets. The reason is quite obvious. It forces defenses to line up from sideline to sideline, giving the offense an amazing advantage. With QB Jared Goff under center, defenses have reclaimed that advantage by blitzing the A-gap, giving Goff no time to make the throw. With a mobile quarterback like Wolford, he is more able to avoid that burst, roll to one side, and make the throw.

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Ability to attack both edges of the defense from one formation – The success of the LA Rams offense when it sprang upon the NFL was due to the fact that the Rams created mismatches by attacking either edge of the defense from the same formation.  With one running back and a mobile quarterback, there is no need for a jet sweep, a clear signal to defenses to protect the edge.

Instead, the Rams can move the offensive line in one direction, and bootleg the quarterback in the other. Defenses that stay home are overwhelmed by the running back with an entourage of blockers. Defenses that over-pursue are fooled by the bootleg in the opposite direction. And the fact that the defense must be aware of either possibility creates hesitation, which makes it that much easier for an offense to succeed.