Thursday, June 22, 2006

Niners Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner Answers My Question About Scheme

Several months ago I sent in a question to San Francisco 49ers' offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Well he answered it on the 49ers website. Here it is:

Q: To what degree has the college game caught up with the NFL in scheme design in the passing game, in your view? I have three playbooks: 1999 St. Louis Rams, 2005 Notre Dame, and 2004 Cal Bears. What is interesting to me is that I can find the same double screen in two books, and more plays that are similar, than not. Have we reached an era of "scheme sameness?" Does this make it easier for a rookie QB like Ben Roethlisberger or the Niners Alex Smith to be successful? Zennie Abraham

A: I don’t think you are ever going to get to that degree actually because in the NFL it is much more based on personnel matchups than in college. There are also limitations to what you can do in the NFL. You are not going to have your quarterback do the type of things you would in college, like running the football. I think probably the biggest difference would be the individual matchups you have to handle. For instance let’s say a great pass rusher against a tackle - that might limit what you can do from a scheme standpoint in the NFL.

I think people oversimplify the transition for quarterbacks because it isn’t scheme that makes it difficult for a young quarterback. The difference is the level of play. The rush is much faster, more severe and the hits are a lot tougher on a young quarterback. The coverage, particularly in man coverage, is much better and closer. The margin of error is less in the NFL and you don’t get away with sloppy plays or poorly thrown balls. For young quarterbacks, the precision is much greater for them than in college and some guys just handle the adjustment quicker than others.