Anthony Richardson is a fast rising quarterback with a crazy amount of potential. Throughout about 5 quarters of football, he has already put up some nice stats. He is 30/47 for 279 yards with a touchdown and interception as well as 13 rushes for 75 yards and 3 touchdowns. To say Richardson is a gifted athlete is an understatement, he might be the most rare quarterback (in terms of athleticism) to ever grace the NFL. With his size and athleticism, he is extremely difficult to take down. His arm strength is amongst the best 6-7 in the NFL, with him easily able to hit all types of throws. He has the ability to be great, but when it comes to quarterback play, there are three important factors that are more important than anything else:
- Accuracy/ball placement
- Decision making
These are three areas that Richardson has struggled with in his first two games and in college. He is inconsistent in these areas, but at his best, he shows incredible flashes and looks good in these three areas. We’ll focus on two of them for the sake of this article.
Gardner Minshew is not Anthony Richardson. He is not big and strong, or fast and athletic or have an arm that can make every type of throw on the field. If anything, Minshew is the opposite of Anthony Richardson. While there’s not much Minshew can learn from Richardson since he can’t magically grow or get much faster overnight, there is a lot that Anthony Richardson can learn from Gardner Minshew.
Accuracy is a lot more than completion percentage. It’s more than just hitting your receiver. In the NFL, accuracy and ball placement is about putting the ball in the spot where not only the receiver can get it, but in a place he can get yards after the catch and where he’s protected from hard hitting defenders.
Completion percentage is not a truly accurate way to look at a quarterback’s accuracy. In the case for Richardson, he is above 60%, but many of his throws are screens and short quick hitters. His actual down the field accuracy and ball placement is below average at the moment.
I’ve compiled some throws that I believe are good examples of the type of missed throws I’ve seen from Richardson in the preseason and in the first couple of games as well as throws that sum up the great accuracy that Minshew possesses, especially on short to intermediate passes.
Richardson missed throw 1 pic.twitter.com/YfClvx2Cxe— Andrew Aziz (@AndrewAzizSB) September 23, 2023
Richardson missed throw 2 pic.twitter.com/lHV6p9nDa0— Andrew Aziz (@AndrewAzizSB) September 23, 2023
When looking at these throws, three things are apparent with Minshew:
- He hits his receivers in stride
- He puts the ball in a spot where only the receiver can get it
- He can make very accurate throws off platform and from different arm angles
While Anthony Richardson has shown the ability to do these three things, Minshew does it consistently and consistency is the key to success.
What can Richardson do to fix these things? It all starts with alignment, mainly with the shoulders and leg leg. The quarterback needs to think of his front shoulder as a sniper scope. If your sniper scope (or laser) is not aimed at your target, it will be off-line. It is the same thing with quarterbacks, no quarterback in the history of the game can consistently get away with having poor front shoulder and lead leg alignment; everything needs to line up! The smallest difference with your body makes the biggest difference with your throws, especially in the NFL when the game is moving at 100mph. Minshew’s alignment and throwing mechanics are amongst the 10 best in the NFL of all current quarterbacks I’ve studied and it’s why he’s a very accurate quarterback despite having an average at-best arm.
Timing has become a crucial component in the NFL, with defensive backs able to cover more space and defensive fronts able to pressure the quarterback quicker now. Teams like Miami turned their offenses into a pure timing based offense that ask for the quarterback to throw the ball within 2 seconds of the ball being snapped. This is to combat aggressive defenses as well as teams with ferocious pass rushes. The 49ers have also utilized this and it has had tremendously positive results over the last few years for both teams.
Even if an offense isn’t necessarily pure timing based, the best quarterbacks in the league have a certain level of anticipation and timing; they know how to hit their receivers in rhythm. In fairness to quarterbacks like Richardson, they are adjusting to a new offense and a new speed of play so the timing will take time to develop, but guys like Minshew, who played in an offense with many timing-based elements and who has played in the league for a few seasons now, will be better in this area.
Minshew timing plus accuracy pic.twitter.com/a9xb5PXRNP— Andrew Aziz (@AndrewAzizSB) September 23, 2023
From these clips, we see some great things from Minshew in terms of timing and anticipation:
- Throwing to receivers right out of the break, with all types of routes
- Throwing to receivers when they are most open
- Throwing before a receiver can get his head taken off
Richardson has certainly improved in this area and showed so even in the last game, but as mentioned earlier, it’s about consistency. Minshew is never late on his 1st read and even though he can be guilty of staring down his receivers, his accuracy and timing allows his receivers to make catches without getting decapitated. The AJ Brown throw and catch in “Minshew timing 1” is a great example of that. The safety read Minshew’s eyes, but because Minshew threw the ball accurately and with perfect timing, Brown was able to catch the ball, take two steps, brace and then took a low hit. Had he been half a second late, the safety would’ve killed Brown. Richardson is guilty of throwing some dangerous passes to his guys already and it’s all due to timing.
Anthony Richardson is going to be a hell of a quarterback; we can already see the improvements from him. What he doesn’t have is what Minshew does, consistently accuracy on short to intermediate throws as well as precise timing. That comes with time and eventually with experience. Richardson has proven already he belongs and can handle the NFL, but to me, Gardner Minshew is one of the 20-25 best quarterbacks in the league and someone like Richardson can benefit from studying him early in the season and then adapting some of his passing ability to be more like Minshew’s.
Richardson’s injury might be a blessing in disguise for his development. Of course you never want anyone to concussed and we all hope Richardson can return as soon and as healthy as possible, but now that he’s on the sidelines, he can watch Minshew in action and learn two important skills that he’ll need if he wants to be a longtime star quarterback in the NFL.