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The Case for Garrett Greene

GG Doege, but it's time to step aside

It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment, but the quarterback position's decades-long transition from big-armed statue to multidimensional playmaker officially hit critical mass sometime in the middle of the last decade. This is readily apparent when you sneak a peek at the guys quarterbacking college football's most consistent playoff teams over the last few years. Trevor Lawrence, Joe Burrow, Tua Tagaviola, Justin Fields, Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield, Jalen Hurts, Deshaun Watson - all of them with the exception of Mac Jones this year are/were very good runners, and guys like Fields and Murray are objectively among the best athletes on any given field.

The NFL is clearly placing more and more value on these traits, as well, as evidenced by the fact that many of those same guys are being selected at the top of the draft each year. Teams want guys like Pat Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson, with pocket dwellers going the way of the dinosaur. The TL/DR here: accuracy and decision making are still a quarterback’s most important traits, especially when applied at an elite level (see: Brady, Thomas), but athleticism and the ability to make plays with legs are more “must-have” and less “nice-to-have” traits with each passing year (pun!).

This is why I think it's high time to thank Jarrett Doege for his service and hand the keys to our offense to one Garrett Greene. In my eyes it shouldn't even be a complicated decision, but a simple application of the table test - what Greene brings to and takes off of the table compared to Doege.

Let's start with the latter. Doege's body of work in Morgantown has been a bit of a rollercoaster, but an average day for him over the course of his 14 starts has been just that - an average day. He's had a couple of good games, a couple disasters, and a whole lot of blah that fell somewhere in the middle. He generally didn't actively sabotage our chances of winning, but if we're being honest that's the bare minimum you should expect from a starting quarterback and unfortunately falls well short of what you need from the position if you want to contend for anything.

Statistically Doege's 64% completions were slightly above the national average in 2020, but that's less impressive when you consider his paltry 6.9 yards per attempt. More advanced metrics such as deep passing (Doege's 35% adjusted completions on passes targeted 20+ yards downfield ranked 34th of 47 QBs who threw at least 40 such passes) and passing under pressure (58%, good for 39th of the 66 QBs with at least 235 dropbacks) paint a similar picture. It would be fair to say that his receivers didn't do much to help him out this year (our 7.2% drop rate ranked 12th nationally), but it would also be fair to say that Doege never really took a game by the scruff of the neck.

The biggest knock on Doege though has to be his inability to contribute to the running game. Doege gained just 50 yards on 22 combined designed runs and scrambles, good for an average of just 2.3 yards, which is bad even before you account for the 151 yards he lost on 19 sacks. Even the aforementioned Mac Jones, who's thought of as immobile by modern standards, managed a better output, and for an offense that relies on zone read and RPO packages as foundational plays it's borderline inexcusable.

Enter Garrett Greene. Greene's lack of playing time last year makes it hard to examine him through the same lens, but we do know that he threw the ball well enough in high school to be selected as a member 2019's Elite 11 QB class, which is exactly what it sounds like. More importantly though, we know that he was a very good runner in high school, and that his athleticism seemed to translate to the college level on extremely limited opportunities in 2020 (6 combined designed runs and scrambles for 40 yards against Eastern Kentucky and Iowa State). I would submit that the boost Greene gives us in the running game and as a scrambler/play extender will more than offset any marginal dropoff between he and Doege as passers, and if you're skeptical of that argument, ask yourself if you'd rather have Doege or Skyler Howard, who completed just 61% of his passes the year he won 10 games.

There’s a reason why 5 of the 6 best seasons in school history were helmed by quarterbacks who could move, and it's because the threat of them moving made a bunch of other fun things possible offensively. We had countless plays blown up last year because teams paid Doege's legs no attention, but with Greene, a linebacker might flinch for the split-second needed to open up a throwing lane, or an edge defender might freeze long enough to spring a running back on a zone read, or a safety might take a false step forward at the snap and find himself too shallow to get over to a go route on the outside.

To quote _Any Given Sunday_, "the inches we need are everywhere around us", and with defenders getting bigger and faster every year those inches are harder to manufacture than ever. A mobile quarterback is one thing that can help with that, which is why it would flabber my gast if Neal Brown decides to just run it back with Doege in 2021.