In all my research, over a span of several years, the finest advice I have ever read on quarterback leadership came from my friend Frank Carideo. The purpose of this information was to outline the process by which a quarterback was trained in Notre Dame, under coach Knute Rockne. This course of quarterbacking was as exacting in many respects as any collegiate course.
Coach Rockne had seven cardinal principles of quarterbacking that were preached over and over again.
1. A Quarterback must keep a cocky air at all times.
a. You need your Quarterback to show other teams he knows what he will do next–there isn’t a bit of doubt in his mind about what he is going to do on the next play.
b. You want his facial expressions to indicate to a team and your opponents’ team that he not only knows what he will do next, but that he will do it for all that they can do to stop him.
C. Be sure he understands that this is merely an air. It is a role he’s playing. It isn’t himself which you want to be cocky; it’s the Quarterback. You do not want your boys to be too cocky. There is a limitation, and he should know it.
He might offend the members of his own team. His job is to irritate the members of another group, not his own. You want that cocky air at all times–and on the practice area is one of those times.
2. You want a Quarterback using a clear, staccato voice. You want a voice that is forceful and decisive. You want it to be heard and to be understood when it is heard. You want it to be recognized by your team as the command of one who is about to lead his army somewhere to a certain objective. You want it to be recognized by the enemy as the Squirrel Poop of one who is going to accomplish that objective with his army, no matter what might be done by everyone to stop it.
3. This third law is a variation of the first. You want your Quarterback to understand what he will do next and to do it. You don’t need him to show at any time, at any time whatever, he is in doubt about his next move. Additionally, you don’t need him to show that he’s worried or communicate such a feeling to his team. Stress this point–though we are beaten–and at times badly–we will never become demoralized.
4. Have him watch at all times and ask himself the question: Who made the tackle? Also those who were not in on the tackles. Try to observe any glaring weakness in the defensive line or at the secondary. Especially on passes. Illustration on a charging half back and shooting line backer.
5. Recall what plays have been going successfully and, of equal importance, the ones that have failed to gain ground. If plays gain ground they should be used until the defense changes about to meet them. There is absolutely no law against returning to the successful plays in the future if circumstances warrant.
6. The sixth law comes into the field of generalship and strategy. At all times the Quarterback must maintain his plays in sequence order. Some plays are to be utilised as checksothers as feelers. Occasionally it may be necessary to sacrifice a play to make those that are to follow powerful. This, of course, requires a quarterback’s looking a long way forward.
7. The seventh and final law is one of precaution. Whenever in doubt, your Quarterback should do one of two things. The most natural is to kick. The other would be to call time out and ask the linemen for advice regarding the alignment and qualities of the defensive linemen. Punting is nearly always the safe procedure.