21 quarterbacks have been drafted in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft in the last four selection meetings. The vast majority of them did not receive much in the way of coaching and system stability - and fortunately for a few select franchises, their young quarterbacks made it through the turmoil largely unscathed.
Consider this: of those 21 quarterbacks picked, 11 of them were forced to learn a new offense or adjust to a new play-caller heading into just their second season. Some - Andrew Luck and Nick Foles, specifically - made the adjustments without many issues. Many other talented young quarterbacks flopped in part because of the organizational instability around them.
Just three of those 21 quarterbacks played in the same system, with the same play-caller, in each of their first three seasons. You'll recognize the names: Christian Ponder and Bill Musgrave in Minnesota; Andy Dalton and Jay Gruden in Cincinnati; Colin Kaepernick and Greg Roman in San Francisco. Ponder and Dalton will be experiencing that coaching change for the first time this year, and Kaepernick could join them if Roman leaves to become a head coach somewhere. Russell Wilson in Seattle may become the fourth such quarterback with system stability next season - if Darrell Bevell doesn't depart for a head coaching gig, that is.
(As an aside, a question to ponder: should it be surprising that all four of those quarterbacks have been to the playoffs?)
Which leads us to a duo of second-year pros, EJ Manuel and Geno Smith, and their respective embattled offensive coordinators in Buffalo and New York. (A third 2013 draft pick, Mike Glennon, will have a second coordinator in as many years next season in Tampa Bay.)
Nathaniel Hackett was a fairly unpopular hire from the moment it was announced thanks to his age (33) and his ties to head coach Doug Marrone (cronyism!). Marty Mornhinweg became the third Jets offensive coordinator in as many years last spring, the veteran play-caller Rex Ryan coveted in an attempt to salvage the role and keep his job. Both Hackett and Mornhinweg were popular whipping boys for two frustrated fan bases in 2013. It's looking like both will be back calling plays for their respective teams in 2014.
Perhaps we know why. Looking at recent history, only the surest of bets - Luck, who benefitted from working under his college coordinator in year two, and Cam Newton, if you count moving from Rob Chudzinski to Mike Shula as a "system change," even though Shula worked under Chudzinski - were able to sail through coaching changes with flying colors as a full-time starter. Manuel and Geno Smith are not sure bets by any stretch of the imagination; the Bills and the Jets are hoping that they can develop the talented young athletes into playoff-caliber passers; they're actively choosing to stick with the status quo because stability is not only a huge asset in developing a young player, but because it's so increasingly rare.
Here's a full look at the coaching changes that all 21 of these quarterbacks have endured in their young careers. Whatever your opinion on Hackett, it's hard to deny that having Manuel in the same offense, with the same play-caller, for as long as possible is a good thing for his development.
|2012||1||Robert Griffin III||Redskins||Shanahan||Shanahan||McVay|