When veteran players or coaches give advice, they will say NFL verbiage is the hardest transition from college to professional. The complexity of the game on both sides of the ball is tough, but one thing making the game tougher for players is remembering the play call.
Take for example Johnny Manziel, who was already a polarizing prospect out of Texas A&M, he struggled mightily with the play calling. There were rumors that his veteran offensive linemen had to help him with play calls, which is not uncommon for young players. Veterans help rookies all the time by getting them lined up appropriately, helping with proper technique, some will even help rookies get into their cleats.
Manziel failed for a few reasons, but it’s important to note play calling got in the way. There is a reason band directors will start students on playing scales and long tones. These exercises not only help to build technique, but when explaining more complex concepts, students can rely on these schools of thought to learn quicker. Playing at the pro level is not the same as starting to play music for the first time…or is it? Does “Flip-Right-Double X Jet- 36 Counter-Naked Waggle-7-x Quarter” easier to remember than “Bash?”
Some of the top pro prospects have never played inside of a huddle before like Marcus Mariota. Criticism for prospects include “never played in a huddle”, “will struggle with verbiage” or “Never played in a pro-style offense”, but should it be this be difficult? NFL coaches should start quarterbacks with long tones and scales to more quickly adjust them to NFL offenses. The very first band concert of the year was long tones and scale patterns, but still something parents could be proud of. As the year went on, playing “Pirates of the Caribbean” or “Jurassic Park” became simple to play because these pieces used basic techniques to accomplish greater things.
If a human being can only learn so much information at one time why force them to waste energy to try learn something they are not ready for? Allow young players to play scales for a while, because some of Mozart’s greatest pieces were quite scale-like. Mozart’s genius came in to play when he started had a firm grasp of basic techniques and then broke the rules. He went outside of these scales because he gained the capacity to do so.
Norv Turner was highly respected because of his “complex scheme” and his success with this scheme, but would Turner still be Vikings OC if his system was more simplified? Pat Shurmur showed that a simplified approach could still produce results at a high level. Sam Bradford played his best football when things were simple, but it is also important to know when to introduce the complex patterns and musical pieces
It is prudent for offensive coordinators to spend time with their young players and decide on verbiage together. Coaches should ask, Will the verbiage get in the way of a player operating the offense at a high level? It is bad coaching to have a “my way or highway” mentality approach to young players. Ultimately, they want to be able to use their scales and long tones and translate it over to beautiful symphonies.