What’s on Tap?
The QB’s Just Keep on Running
Sam Tapper — Sport Writer
As football season is now in full swing at both the collegiate and professional levels, there are a million things to talk about.
Most people just want to dissect the Antonio Brown fiasco especially following his signing in New England, but I want to touch on a much broader topic: quarterbacks who run.
Historically, the rushing quarterbacks have been just that – historic. From Michael Vick, who was a member of the Atlanta Falcons when he became the first quarterback to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season as well as the NFL’s all-time rushing leader among quarterbacks, to Randall Cunningham and Donovan McNabb.
Today, it is less of a surprise and more of an every-game tactic to see amongst most teams. In the NFL, the list goes on and on for quarterbacks who utilize their running game frequently.
For example, take Lamar Jackson, who practically rushed the Baltimore Ravens into the playoffs a year ago. He went 6-1 with just shy of 700 rushing yards, but in his lone-playoff appearance, he did not even look like he was aware he could throw the ball.
We even see it here in Connecticut, as Southern’s senior quarterback Matt Sanzaro serves as a dual threat, rushing for 228 yards in 2018. The University of Connecticut has also had a run-heavy quarterback for the last four seasons with Bryant Shireffs from 2015-17 and David Pindell last season.
All in all, having a quarterback who is athletic and competent on their feet opens a whole new area in the playbook, but it also comes with a tremendous risk factor.
Take Tom Brady for example. Sure, he runs occasionally, but he is not consistently coming out of the pocket, taking hits from linebackers and defensive backs. Could this be a contributing factor to how he’s been able to play for so long?
Now, we will return to Shireffs from UConn, the last QB to get the Huskies to a bowl game. Shireffs’ career was forced to end during his senior year at UConn because of the concussions he sustained from consistently rushing and not giving himself enough protection.
I am not trying to discourage coaches from utilizing the legs of their quarterbacks, nor am I trying to be cynical about QBs who tend not to throw the ball often. I am being as realistic as possible; quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson don’t tend to last very long.
I am all for athlete safety, and I want to see athletes get the most out of their careers. So, quarterbacks- keep on running, but understand the risks. Be like Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks, and find a happy medium.