Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence was profiled as a generational talent coming out of college. Through four NFL games, Lawrence is sitting at 0-4, throwing more interceptions than scores and leading like a diluted version of the long-haired hero with a Tiger’s paw on his helmet.
While the first four games of NFL play fall short of a proper benchmark for rookie quarterbacks, the stark decline in confidence seen from these QB’s begs the question as to what changed between today’s rookies and the greats before them. San Francisco 49ers legend Joe Montana has an answer.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence #16 of the Jacksonville Jaguars throws the ball in the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at TIAA Bank Field on September 19, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
In an interview with USA Today, Montana spoke on the lack of mental preparation that QB’s are entering the League with — suggesting contemporary college football’s coaching as a system that coddles its play-callers.
“As a rookie you always think you’re ready and everyone wants to play right away — a lot of it depends on the sophistication of the offense,” said Montana. “Having what it takes for that because I think a lot of these guys that you’ll see in college all of a sudden look to the sideline and teammates go, ‘Why are you looking over there?'”
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones warms up for the team’s preseason NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Montana explains that without a developed acuity to read defenses or deviate from the coach’s commands, rookie QB’s are setting themselves up for danger against professional defenses. “But they’re telling him everything. They’re telling him where he wants to throw the ball, where the defense is. They’re giving them all of the information instead of teaching them how to do it themselves. Those are the guys that suffer once they get to the NFL.”
Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) walks off the field after the Cleveland Browns defeated the Bears in an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
“You don’t learn to read defenses once you get to the NFL,” admitted Joe Cool.