To get an idea of what an NFL quarterback must learn, SI sat in on a meeting at a Redskins minicamp in June. On this day, during a 45-minute classroom session for Washington's four signal-callers, the Skins were installing a portion of their passing offense. Quarterbacks coach Mike Martz sat at a conference table quizzing Gus Frerotte, Jeff Hostetler, Trent Green and Brad Otton. Here's one exchange that occurred during the meeting.
Martz: "Jack Right, Slot Scat Right, 370 Pump F-Shoot Swing. Jeff, what have we got?"
Hostetler (without hesitation): "Three pump to the zero. Check the shoot if you've got man."
Martz: "Right. If you've got cloud cover, give a shoulder flinch to the three pump. And all those coverages that are wall coverages, you have a chance at the hot on those—especially when they get into the zone dogs."
Before a quarterback can even start using his athleticism, he must learn his team's language. "I tell young quarterbacks, 'Guys, this is a foreign language, and if you don't master it, you'll struggle every day you're here," says Redskins coach Norv Turner.
On this play Jack is the formation; the fullback lines up on the tight end, or strong, side, while the two wide receivers line up on the weak side. Right is the side on which the tight end lines up. Scat Right is the blocking scheme; in this case, each blocker takes the man closest to him, with the uncovered lineman or back picking up any blitzers. The number—370—tells each receiver the pattern to run. The Redskins have nine pass routes, and each is assigned a number from one to nine. On this play, the tight end will fake a 3 route (a square out) and run a deep pattern. The closest receiver to the tight end, the slot receiver to his left, gets the next number, the 7, which is a 15-yard corner route. The third receiver, the outside man, runs a 0, which is a crossing route. F-Shoot is the fullback's assignment, a safety-valve route in the flat. Swing is the pattern for the tailback.
In his answer Hostetler tells Martz that in the defense he expects on this play, he'll fake to the tight end, scan to his second receiver but hope to throw to the deep man—unless the secondary goes to a cloud coverage, in which the cornerback plays tight man-to-man and gets help from a safety as needed.
Martz cautions that if the defense comes with a zone blitz—linemen dropping into coverage, linebackers or defensive backs blitzing—Hostetler should look for the hot receiver, in this case the tailback.
That's one play down, 120 or so to go.