It usually takes NFL players weeks to learn a new system.
It took Anquan Boldin one night.
The 36-year-old wide receiver signed with the Buffalo Bills on Aug. 7. He reported to his first practice on Aug. 8. It didn't take long for his teammates to notice that Boldin already had a firm grasp on the team's offensive playbook. He took a number of reps with the first-team offense, and rookie receiver Zay Jones told BuffaloNews.com that Boldin was even calling some plays in the huddle.
How did Boldin learn the team's playbook so quickly? Simple—he pulled an all-nighter:
Zay Jones was amazed that Anquan Boldin knew the playbook so well.
Said Boldin: "Well, it's because I didn't get any sleep last night." — ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) August 9, 2017
While Boldin surely hasn't learned every detail of the team's offense yet, it just goes to show how quickly he can pick things up. NFL.com recently ran a feature on current NFL players who would make great head coaches, and Boldin was included. NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt wrote that Boldin is "very smart and possesses great leadership ability."
Boldin possesses an uncanny ability to master a playbook quickly. For proof, all you have to do is look at his stats during his first season in a new system.
He looked like a seasoned veteran during his rookie season with the Arizona Cardinals, racking up 101 receptions (which still stands as a rookie record) and 1,377 receiving yards.
In his first season with the Baltimore Ravens in 2010, Boldin totaled 64 receptions and 837 receiving yards. In his first season with the San Francisco 49ers in 2013, he recorded 85 receptions and 1,179 receiving yards. In his first with the Detroit Lions in 2016, he totaled 67 receptions and 584 receiving yards (as a 35-year-old).
The typical excuse of an NFL player's production dropping since they're "learning a new system" simply doesn't seem to apply to Boldin.
Last season, Boldin signed with the Lions just as the team was beginning training camp. He mastered the team's complex offense in a matter of days. "We're a complex offense and he's done a heck of a job stepping in and playing," Lions' quarterback Matthew Stafford told the Oakland Press. "He's a really intelligent guy."
All signs indicate that Boldin will be a major contributor to Buffalo's offense in 2017.
Photo Credit: Buffalo Bills Official Twitter Account