Thursday, September 27, 2012
Behind The Scoreboard
The art of scrambling
This was shaping up to be a season of the signal callers, dating back to last season and Tim Tebow, but Sunday it could very well have been mistaken as a season for place kickers.
In the early games of the day, at least three went into overtimes. And what better stage for the NFL’s new overtime rule to be explicitly clarified – thrice.
Although my fave (Detroit Lions) was dueling with the Titans of Tennessee, I hastily decided to devote most of the attention to the game between Kansas City and New Orleans. It proved to be a wise choice. The Chiefs (a former fave) and the Saints played to a “fare-thee-well,” which ended up in one of the three ties mentioned above. The quarterbacks did their parts, but they just couldn’t seem to deliver the knockout pass.
So the much maligned replacement officials went to the rules book and reminded us all that in the overtime period it would not be “sudden death” unless one team scored a touchdown or safety on the first possession. If either team kicked a field goal then the opposing had to exhaust their four downs before it could be designated “sudden death.”
Anyway, the Chiefs’ place kicker beat the Saints and their highly-rated QB 27-24 in OT. Likewise, the Titans outlasted the Lions 44-41 and the Dolphins upset the Jets 23-20.
So, the quarterbacks (who took it on the chin in these three games), notwithstanding all the guys on the sidelines and in the broadcast booth with the sophisticated headgear and now computerized clipboards, are still the on-the-grids field generals. And the quarterback has been a position of evolvement.
Last week the NFL Network ran a special on what it called the 10 most mobile QBs in NFL history. Being old enough to remember all of the signal callers highlighted in the piece, naturally, it is sort of my nature to disagree and I can’t wholeheartedly accept some of their complete rankings.
Since there is a lot of stock placed on the golden arm of a QB, the more mobile the signal caller the more extension, or expansion, his team has. And, verily, I would have to agree with the ranking of Fran Tarkenton and Randall Cunningham as number one and two, respectively, among the most adept scramblers. Each would probably readily admit that cutting on the “afterburners” to escape the invaders of the QB pocket was, more often than not, borne out of desperation. Tarkenton had the uncanny ability to elude the most dedicated pursuers. As effective as he and Cunningham were, they were never able to capture the most prized and elusive title in pro football, Super Bowl champion.
Now, in the new era of the QB, the art of scrambling seems to be slowly returning with the likes of Tim Tebow and Mike Vick. Let us hope the old excitement of watching these mobile signal callers will also return.
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