The game of football is constantly evolving. Trends come and go and certain types of players dominate eras. A powerful running back used to be the way to march down the field. Power backs such as Earl Campbell, Walter Peyton, John Riggins, and Larry Csonska all etched their way into history as defenses scrambled to figure out how to stop them. These players were the main threats for their team, often carrying them on their backs. Defenses were aware of the potential of these running backs, and knew well before the game that Campbell, Peyton, Riggins or Csonska were their main priority in terms of defending their turf. Although they are less popular, power backs still exist in the sport today. Brandon Jacobs, Peyton Hills, Steven Jackson, and Jerome Bettis are all prime examples of the prolific potential this position still holds in today’s football realm.
This day and age, however, a new trend has emerged in the sport, one that is quickly becoming more prevalent on the college level. This new trend is that of the dual-threat quarterback. With the ability and option to both throw accurately and/or run with force, these quarterbacks prove more difficult for defenses to stop. Dual-threat quarterbacks provide their offense with more options and posses the ability to turn a busted play into a prolific down. The type of athlete required is nothing new to the sport, but the climbing number of them is staggering. Reggie Collier, Archie Manning, Steve Young, and Fran Tarkenton were all dominant dual threats, but their style of play never revolutionized the game. When Michael Vick hit the scene in 1998, he embodied the explosive characteristics of the modern-day dual-threat quarterback. Coaches started to gain interest, but it wasn’t until 2007 when the game officially took a drastic turn, and the dual-threat leader became a coveted weapon within college football.
In 2007, Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy. His statistics that year speak for themselves: Pass Yards– 3,286 Pass TDs– 32 Rush Yards– 895 Rush TDs– 23 Total Offense– 4,181. Tim Tebow broke numerous SEC and national records during his time at Florida. He became the SEC’s all-time leader in career passing efficiency, completion percentage, passing touchdown to interception ratio, and even broke Hershel Walker’s career rushing touchdown record.[i]
During the 2007 season, Tim became the first sophomore to ever win the Heisman trophy. It was his explosiveness that set him ahead of all upperclassmen in the running. Now, the past three Heisman winners have all been dual-threat quarterbacks—Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, and Johnny Manziel. That’s not all, if you look at the Heisman race for this year, the top five prospects are: Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel, Bryce Petty, and Tajh Boyd—All of which are dual threat quarterbacks.
Also in 2007, there were only two teams with dual-threat quarterbacks that were ranked in the top 10 of the final BCS standings. Those two teams were: Florida, with Tim Tebow leading the squad, and West Virginia, with Pat White at quarterback. Now, Alabama is currently the only team in the BCS top 10 that isn’t using a dual threat quarterback. However, A.J McCarron’s back up Blake Sims, who will likely start next season, does possess dual-threat capabilities.
Dual Threat quarterbacks are now taking the NFL by storm. Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Geno Smith, and Michael Vick all hold starting positions for NFL teams. However, not a one of them is close to being voted best in the league. That status still has a shadow cast over it by pro-style pocket passers like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
So what does this mean for the future of football? Is this new trend going to take over the game forever once players like Manning and Brady retire? Or will it fizzle out like the old power back trend? Only time will answer that question. In the meantime, let’s all sit back and watch the excitement that these new talents are bringing to the game!