By now, you have probably heard Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey referred to as a coach that "prefers mobile quarterbacks" (paraphrasing) at least once. Since his January 2010 hiring to his current position, that line of thought has been behind the belief that the Bills would be interested first in Tim Tebow, and now Cam Newton.
The genesis of that idea comes from more than just Gailey's history of coaching mobile players like Kordell Stewart, Jay Fiedler and Tyler Thigpen. Thanks to a tip from Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News, I've been reading a book entitled Blood, Sweat and Chalk by Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated. The book explores the genesis and evolution of several prominent offensive and defensive systems.
It's in the chapter called "The Wildcat" where Gailey appears. As Layden discusses the rapid rise to prominence and the Single Wing origins of the system popularized by the Miami Dolphins, Gailey talks about the rise of the spread system at the college level and the eventual morphing of what we perceive today as the prototypical quarterback.
"The single wing stuff is going to become more the norm in the future," Gailey says in Layden's book (published in 2010). "Over the next 10 or 15 years it's going to evolve because the runner-thrower is the kind of quarterback that the college game is producing now. You don't find a ton of the six-three, six-four, drop-back, stand-up passer. They're not in college, so we're not getting them up here.
"There are only so many plays in football; all we're doing is finding different ways to run them," continues Gailey. "But there's no escaping the fact that high school and college football are developing a different type of athlete. Pretty soon - I don't know how long, but pretty soon - somebody is going to find an athlete who can run and throw and just take the conventional quarterback off the field."
Considering that core belief of Gailey's, there's little wonder that Newton is frequently referenced as a perfect fit for Buffalo. (Mel Kiper is the latest to hop aboard that bandwagon.) In 14 games at Auburn last year, he had 2,854 passing yards and a 30-to-7 TD-to-INT ratio, and also added 1,473 rushing yards and a further 20 touchdowns. That's Tebow-like production (in 2007, the year Tebow won the Heisman, he scored 55 total touchdowns while accumulating 3,286 passing yards and 895 rushing yards) in a bigger, more athletic package.
And yet, we're not 10-15 years in the future, Gailey already has an offense installed, and Newton's red flags and lack of experience are still major concerns. The Bills will not make an important decision in April 2011 based on what Gailey believes a prototypical quarterback will look like in 2026. Right?