Why Wisconsin Badgers coach Paul Chryst is the NFL’s new ‘QB whisperer’

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Some of the finer points are fuzzy, but he remembers driving away impressed. While Mike Martz was offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears six or seven Septembers ago, he made a side trip up to Madison to watch the Wisconsin Badgers practice and to talk shop with then-UW offensive coordinator Paul Chryst.

“It was almost like an NFL practice,” Martz told Land of 10.

“I think they learn the game there. I think that’s the No. 1 deal there. And I think that’s extremely important … I think what they do is slow things down and they do a good job of teaching players.”

We mention this because the NFL season kicks off Thursday night in New England, and the football fates happened to turn up this little nugget:

Of the 32 starting quarterbacks the league is rolling out for Week 1, two are former Badgers who worked with Chryst as a coordinator.

And three of the 32, almost 10 percent — Russell Wilson in Seattle, Scott Tolzien in Indianapolis and Tom Savage in Houston — had Chryst serving either as their collegiate coordinator or head coach.

Jim Harbaugh ain’t the only QB whisperer in this league, kids.

“They’ve been putting quarterbacks in the NFL the last two years and [most of] these guys are just game managers,” offered Dan Shonka, general manager and national scout with Ourlands.com.

“I saw Houston, I’m like, ‘What the [expletive]?’ [Joel] Stave is a great kid, he’s a good developmental guy. Tolzien … they’re putting game-manager quarterbacks in the NFL, which is almost hard to believe.”

Believe this: Of the seven Big Ten alums starting behind center on Planet Goodell this weekend, two of ’em — 28.6 percent — wore Badgers red.

“Credit to Paul Chryst,” Shonka continued. “Paul Chryst still is a great quarterbacks coach. He has a lot to do with it. You have to give Chryst a bit of credit for developing those quarterbacks, no question about it.”

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“When GMs in the league as looking at quarterbacks, they’re looking at the ability to transition to the league,” Martz explained. “[Wisconsin’s coaches] teach them to read [defenses], to take the ball from center as well as shotgun, the play-action after the 5-step drop, the 3-step drop from center.

“All the stuff they’re going to be asked to do within the league, they’ve more or less done that. They understand that and they’ve done a good job of teaching it.”

Badgers quarterbacks are learning pro-style concepts at a pro-style pace, an elan accrued from Chryst’s formative years in the World League of American Football; stints in the CFL with Ottawa and Saskatchewan; and as Mike Riley’s tight ends coach with the San Diego Chargers from 1999 to 2001.

‘They know what he teaches. And they’re very comfortable with the fact that those guys are going to be ahead of the curve.’

— Former NFL coach Mike Martz on how pro front offices look at players coached by Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst

The NFL playbook looks like a calculus textbook to most rookies the first time they crack that bad boy open. Young pups who played for Chryst have already survived a crash course in processing complex equations on the fly.

“That’s why at Michigan State or USC, where they’re under center with quarterbacks, or Alabama, for instance, it’s a lot easier to evaluate it,” Martz said. “They’re basically taught how to play under center and make the kinds of readers and the tempo and the timing to anticipate throws. Where the other [systems] kind of wait for guys to come open. Big difference.”

NFL front offices like what they can trust and trust who they know. Chryst has a long list of admirers in the pro ranks — and an even longer list of pals.


“Absolutely,” Martz said. “And I think that’s important, because I think he’s got a good relationship with guys in the league. They know what he teaches. And they’re very comfortable with the fact that those guys are going to be ahead of the curve.”

The post Why Wisconsin Badgers coach Paul Chryst is the NFL’s new ‘QB whisperer’ appeared first on Land of 10.

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