AP Coach of the Year Bruce Arians, who played an instrumental role in developing Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, can speak with authority on what it takes to become an elite quarterback. During a recent interview with Arians, STACK took advantage of the opportunity to pick the coach's brain about the best ways to become a better quarterback.
STACK: What do you believe makes a player an exceptional quarterback?
Arians: It's easy to see arm strength, height, weight, speed, velocity and accuracy, but that’s not what really makes a quarterback. What really sets him apart is the thing that is hardest to find: the brain muscle and the heart muscle. I call that the grit. The guys with the grit might not be the most talented, but when they step into a huddle, there's a leadership factor that when they say something everyone believes it. On the offense and defense as well. The guy you want leading your football team isn’t the biggest, strongest, fastest guy out there, but the one who is good enough and a leader of men. That part is very hard to evaluate unless you’ve been in the huddle with them.
STACK: How do you determine if a quarterback has "grit"?
Arians: I put them in situations where they’re in the huddle with me. Say things like, "Teach me your offense and make me believe that you know what you’re doing.” I’ll put them in a two-minute drill on a blackboard and ask them to show me a favorite third-and-five pass when the game is on the line. You’ll get a pretty good sense of their passion and intelligence for the game. If you feel this passion when they’re giving it to you, they probably have it.
STACK: What can a young quarterback do to develop "grit"?
Arians: Be the first one in line, first one in the building and the last to leave. Just learn how to lead. Some guys are born with it and some guys learn and develop it.
STACK: If you could build the ultimate quarterback, what would he look like?
Arians: He'd be a combination of the greatest ones out there: Peyton Manning, who's the most cerebral player out there, Ben Roethlisberger, who’s the biggest, strongest and most athletic, [and] Tim Couch [for his] competitiveness. But I think all those guys came together, and he's called Andrew Luck. He’s probably going to be one of the best to play the game.
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STACK: What's the best advice you could offer quarterback hopefuls and players in general on becoming successful?
Arians: You’ve got to love football first and foremost. But work hard at your trade. Go to camps and quarterback schools and work on your arm. You’re going to make your living on your arm, but your leadership skills are where it really counts.
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