FILM SESSIONS: PAT WHITE’S GOOD (BUT COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY OVERRATED) PRESEASON GAME

You know, when I posted this blog about Colt Brennan, I did it with the hope that people would take my joke and take preseason for what it is; an evaluation period, and a way for people to audition for other teams.

Even before the game, I had a feeling it was coming. I had the feeling Rex would be Rex (i.e streaky, inconsistent, frustrating and amazing all at once), and then Pat White would come in and most people’s common sense would go out the window.

Pat White is gonna come in, he’s going to have some pretty runs, and #Redskins fans will act stupid.

— Kenneth Clyburn (@kcclyburn) August 9, 2013

And then it happened. I don’t know if I’m shocked that people have done everything from suggesting that Pat White’s in a legit competition for the third job (he’s not), suggesting we could trade Cousins next year and Pat White would be the number 2 quarterback (never going to happen), and people on the radio suggesting that we should trade Robert Griffin III and keep Pat White. (Please mail in your fan card.)

While one can’t discount that Pat White did have a solid outing, his impact and his potential has been overrated in the same sense that Colt Brennan’s was 5 years ago. Perhaps even more so, as in an abstract sense, Colt probably made more difficult throws and bigger plays than Pat White.

But let’s go through the plays one by one and see just how good Pat White was.

1st Play:) Easy pitch and catch rhythm throw. Logan Paulsen runs a short cross and sits down and gives Pat White his numbers. Nice, simple pay.

2nd Play:) Pat White gets bailed out by Logan. White throws this pass high and outside, with Paulsen running the same short crosser that he ran before.

3rd Play:) White puts the ball in the only place he can on this out route. The ball is high (even though it sort of has to be) and Nick Williams drops it.

So, first three passes, all sort stuff, nothing intermediate or into the second level. Also, White is not making or going through progressions. He has a pre-determined route he’s going to throw to no matter what, and he’s staring down those routes. Let’s continue.

4th Play:) White throws the ball behind Briscoe on the slant route. Another short route that White stares down.

5th Play:) White stares down Niles Paul on this little flat route. Another short, easy completion for Niles.

6th Play:) White stares down Nick Williams on the out route. No progressions, nothing deep or intermediate. Another short throw and an easy completion.

7th Play:) This is your bread and butter read-option play, only this time it’s versus future insurance salesman and mall kiosk workers. The linebacker and DE both crash. Paul blocks the LB which opens a huge lane for Pat White. A good gain and a decent run, but again; context is everything.

8th Play:) The Redskins run the naked boot out of the Pistol. But something about this play is different. On a typical bootleg, the players drag or cross the formation on the run. This play, however is a two receiver play. The tight end Niles Paul doesn’t even go out on a route; he blocks the linebacker instead. Dez Briscoe runs a deep route, which clears things out, giving White a clear running lane.

Without knowing the play, I can’t be sure, but it seems like this wasn’t so much a passing play as a designed quarterback keep run play.

9th Play:) White again stares down this slant route to Lance Lewis. Another short route with nothing deep or intermediate.

Now, why does it matter than Pat White is only throwing short? The simple answer is, these short, easy throws effectively had Pat White’s lack of arm strength. These are simple route combinations and simple concepts that can be run against any defense. And particularly against a vanilla defense in preseason, which is even more important when one considers someone for a back-up or third quarterback role.

10th Play:) This time, White’s staring down receivers nearly comes back to bite him. As soon as the ball is snapped, White has his eyes locked on Skye Dawson on the short curl route. The cornerback drives on the ball and nearly picks it off.

11th Play:) This is the only genuinely impressive play White makes, but it does show a little bit of what I’m talking about throwing into the second level. The ball is thrown beyond ten yards, on the run, but it’s got a little bit of a rainbow arc to it. It’s not a bad throw, but it’s about the extent of his arm is gonna go in the NFL.

12th Play:) Another zone read keeper. This time the LB recovers and Pat only gains a yard on the play.

13th Play:) This is one of the crazy things about White staring down receivers. The ball is snapped and White is staring to his left. The entire defense gets pulled to the right by White’s eyes, which opens up a huge void in the middle. White walks in standing up because he was so undisciplined with his eyes that an entire part of the defense thought they knew where he’d throw it.

14th Play:) Once again, White stares his potential receiver to the right. The defense doesn’t give him a lane, so he scrambles left. He throws this off the back foot, and here we get a real example of Pat White’s lack of arm strength; this ball dies about halfway in the air. How he hit #80, I’ll never know. But he did.

What Pat White did versus the Titans is certainly commendable, but it is not admirable, and it certainly not as impressive as people pretend it was. Much of the “love” for Pat White’s performance comes out of an un-ending, ever burning of Rex Grossman and everything he stands for, and misunderstanding whether or not it was White’s natural talent, or a offensive coordinator who had the world convinced John Beck could be a starter based on his preseason a couple years ago.

People want us to “develop” Pat White. The issue is, we still have two quarterbacks already in the oven. And while everyone has been extra focused on trying to trade Kirk Cousins, the truth is that, unless we get a godsend of an offer, Kirk is going to be the back-up quarterback here until at least the last year of his deal. And in that time, Rex may not be the third quarterback. But Pat White won’t be either.

White was bought in to simulate the read-option and be a camp arm. When the roster cuts come, even on the off chance Rex Grossman isn’t on the roster, chances are Pat White won’t be either. There is nothing to develop. Pat White is an undersized quarterback with a pop cap arm. The offensive coordinator made him look mildly efficient against a bunch of guys who, unfortunately, probably won’t have jobs three weeks from now.

Rex may have indeed looked terrible (which he didn’t really, but that’s for another post), but at least he was going up against starters (the Titans kept their starting defense on the field deep into the second quarter) or guys who more or less have roster spots. White not so much.

Let’s have some perspective, not be so reactionary, be happy Pat White played well enough to get the win, but not well enough to think he can be more than what he has been in the NFL.

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