Quarterback mobility. It’s a phrase you’re going to hear a thousand times over the offseason. And clearly, it’s high on at least Mike Tomlin’s list of traits for whoever the next Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback will be. Wednesday, it was Dwayne Haskins’ turn to answer about the value of mobility in the Steelers’ offense, something they obviously did not have in the final years of Ben Roethlisberger’s career.
“Coach Tomlin does a great job of preaching quarterback mobility,” he said via the team’s YouTube channel. “When we play certain quarterbacks that have that type of mobility, when we scout teams during the week, I get an opportunity to try to emulate them and what they do. So, you know, guys like Pat Mahomes. Guys that can extend plays like Aaron Rodgers and stuff like that and throw the ball downfield.”
Tomlin repeatedly talked about the ever-increasing value of quarterbacks who can move throughout the season, and at times lamented the fact the Steelers’ offense didn’t have that threat anymore. Here’s just a collection of comments Tomlin made about it during the season.
During yesterday’s end-of-year press conference, he again mentioned its importance.
“Quarterback mobility is valued. Not only by me but by everyone,” he told reporters. “It’s just a component of today’s game and increasingly so.”
With Roethlisberger, the Steelers had the league’s least mobile quarterback, one with bad knees who couldn’t extend the play. It was part of his game for the first decade of his career but due to years of hits, injuries, surgeries, and scar tissue, it eroded. Under Canada, it limited an already limited offense.
Haskins clarified mobility doesn’t mean a quarterback who can put a linebacker in the spin cycle, but someone who can keep the play alive when things break down.
“I think the keys to defining quarterback mobility is a person that can extend plays, not necessarily a Lamar Jackson-type, or a guy that can take off for 60 yards, but a guy that can get a first down. Be able to move around the pocket and make a guy miss. Kind of the way that young Ben was. [Canada] preaches a lot about how young Ben was like the Josh Allen-type early on his career. And that’s something I feel like he thinks he had another dynamic to this offense.”
Mobility can be an escape hatch when things break down, especially for young quarterbacks trying to feel out the pro game. It’s one reason for Josh Dobbs’ preseason success, being able to scramble and make plays with his legs when nothing else was available. Something that fits with what Canada wants to do, assuming he’s retained as OC for 2022, which all signs point towards.
“Having known Canada, being able to play against Canada in college, I know he does a lot different things with the quarterback run, quarterback on the move and involving the RPO game as well.”
Haskins himself isn’t fleet of foot, but he showed a bit more mobility in the summer than anticipated. And Mason Rudolph had the team’s longest run of the year until Najee Harris finally broke that laughable mark in Week 17. Compared to Roethlisberger, both those guys might as well be Carl Lewis. Mobility isn’t the end-all for a quarterback, but it’s safe to say the next Steelers’ QB will need some level of functional mobility if they want to start for Tomlin, Canada, and the Steelers.