Connect with us


Mason Rudolph Not Your Typical Air Raid Quarterback



A few nights ago, I was listening to the Doug Gottlieb Show on FOX Sports Radio, and he said something extremely unpopular among Oklahoma State fans.

He was talking about spread, air raid quarterbacks, like current Cowboys slinger Mason Rudolph is, and made his case that “They never work” in the NFL. Among many others in his argument, one flaw in particular stuck out.

Mason Rudolph is not your typical air raid quarterback.

Gottlieb argued that such throwers don’t make reads of the defense pre-snap or post-snap. They do a hard count, break their posture and look at the coaches on the sideline, who tell them which receiver to throw to based on what they see in the defense’s alignment. It takes the brain out of the quarterback, he argued.

Full disclosure, Rudolph has done that and continues to do that at times in this Mike Gundy/Mike Yurcich offense, and especially this season, Rudolph is calling the shots in his reads before he snaps it. And once he does, there might not be a better decipherer of a defense in college football.

His eyes and the processor in his brain are his most dangerous weapons, not his arm or his legs. He said between the ears is something that gets overlooked far too often, and the label of being an air raid QB is one he feels has been overstated.

“My preparation – learning from some of the greats like the Mannings and how they go about their week and really leave no doubt and go into a game knowing you’ve done everything you can do,” Rudolph said. “That’s how I feel going into the games and just lay it out on the line and just react.”

Rudolph’s reactions are as sharp as they come. He might not make the right throw, but he almost always makes the right read, the right step, the right target.

The other side of the argument comes in looking at the landscape of NFL quarterbacks. Deshaun Watson (Clemson) and Dak Prescott (Mississippi State) lead pro throwers in Total QBR this season, above pro-style guys like Tom Brady and Kirk Cousins.

The pro game is moving away from under center. Kansas City goes from the shotgun almost exclusively. So does Atlanta. So does Tennessee and Marcus Mariota, a Heisman winner from Oregon who embodied the air raid system in Eugene.

Rudolph said no one is pro-style anymore.

“That’s kinda a thing of the old, a thing of the past,” he said. “Footwork, accuracy, the intangibles are more important in my eyes, and production.”

He has a point. Watson will probably win Rookie of the Year in 2017, and Prescott did it last season after pushing out a beat up pro-style quarterback in Tony Romo.

Rudolph said he was concerned in high school because he was pinned as the screen guy who wouldn’t take shots downfield. At OSU he has debunked that claim, but the spread system is still in place. Although he committed to the Cowboys knowing what kind of offense they ran, he said no matter what NFL scouts and pundits say about the deficiencies of the air raid system, it’s not like he can change what they run.

“I’ve done what’s asked of me, and I think I’ll do that at the next level,” Rudolph said.

Yurcich came to his quarterback’s defense on all of these points, pointing to the Chiefs taking Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes with the 10th overall pick in last year’s draft. Kansas City coach Andy Reid comes from the west coast lineage, something Yurcich said carries “a little bit of validity.”

“A guy that is a disciple of the Bill Walsh era and the west coast and the redirecting and the double pointing and the 200 jet and all that sorta offense, he takes a guy straight from the (Mike) Leach/Kliff (Kingsbury) tree,” Yurcich said. “What’s that say?”

To which I replied: “A lot, I would say.”

Most Read

Copyright © 2011- 2023 White Maple Media