LA Rams: Blending pocket and mobile QB myths debunked

Mandatory Credit: John McCoy-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: John McCoy-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: C. Morgan Engel-USA TODAY Sports /

“Only 10 or 12 concepts that differ”

The premise that an NFL team runs one set of plays for a pocket passer, and another set of plays for a mobile quarter, is debunked. There are no wholesale philosophical differences that exist in the playbook from one quarterback to the next.  While that makes sense, the meaning of it was lost to me until this recent epiphany.

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One such area for the LA Rams is the empty backfield 5 eligible sets. Whenever the offense went to that formation with Jared Goff under center, I just cringed. It was because I knew that the defense would counter with a Cover-0 (no deep defenders) and an A-gap blitz package (sending a blitzing defender between the center and guard positions). Invariably, the offense should be able to get a completion. But with Goff, it was not a pretty outcome.

And yet in preseason games, I felt no familiar panic when the Rams offense ran that play with Perkins under center. In fact, I was actually calm cool, and collected. It seemed as though Perkins was an ideal quarterback to have with an empty backfield offense. For Stafford, an empty backfield would be more about quick pass options and mismatches. For Wolford or Perkins, the formation could include various bootlegs.

In both cases, the offense will attack similar areas of the defense. But how the offense does so will depend on the quarterback. It can be as simple as where does the offense create a pocket to throw from?

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Perhaps the most obvious examples of attacking the defensive perimeter. The Rams may use wheel routes, screens, jet sweeps, and outside running plays when Stafford is playing. But if a mobile quarterback is running the offense, then RPOs, bootlegs, or pitchouts could be added to the offensive arsenal. In either case, it’s the same playbook, but different methods of going after vulnerable areas of the defense.