When I first saw P.J. Walker play quarterback for Temple University, I had two overriding thoughts.
One, he reminded me of a fellow AAC quarterback at the time, Teddy Bridgewater, and, two, I thought there was a good chance he would be gone by his senior season.
That’s how good I thought he was and that’s how good I thought he was going to become. He took over as a starter a few games into his true freshman year and compiled 20 touchdown passes against only eight interceptions. If the numbers kept going up, I imagined he’d have 25 touchdowns as a sophomore and 30 as a junior and 30 touchdown passes is a ticket to getting drafted.
A couple of things happened on the way to him not declaring for the NFL draft a year early. One, he was the victim of a horrific coaching scheme as a sophomore that gave him no pocket protection from a tailback or fullback and plenty of empty backfields. It was not his fault that he regressed to 13 touchdowns against 15 interceptions. (And I told him that after the next Cherry and White game.) He bounced back nicely as a junior with 19 touchdowns against eight interceptions, but that was in 14 games. He had better stats in nine games his freshman year and he started only seven games that season.
That was P.J. Walker and I want the old P.J. Walker back. As Phillip Walker, he has only eight touchdown passes against nine interceptions. To get the old P.J. back, the Temple coaches are going to have to roll him out—if not all of the time, at least 80 percent of the time.
It should be a no-brainer and should have been done about six games ago.
Here are five reasons why you do that:
He Sees The Field Better
At 5-foot-11, when he drops back, guys who are 6-foot-5 are running and jumping at him. It’s only logical that he sees the field better when he leaves the pocket and rolls out to his right. It also opens up the other side of the field for wheel routes and throwback passes to the tight ends (hint: Central Bucks School district products Colin Thompson and Jake O’Donnell).
The Threat of Running
By rolling out, P.J. brings up the linebackers and the safeties to cover the threat of him running. The linebackers and safeties have to make a quick decision. Quick decisions lead to bad decisions.
Those linebackers and safeties have pass coverage responsibilities and, by coming up on run support, they leave the Temple receivers they are assigned to cover. P.J. can then see the field and toss the intermediate pass to Temple tight ends or wide receivers who now are running free through the secondary.
By rolling out, P.J. is no longer the sitting duck he is when protection breaks down on a more conventional dropback pass. He now has the option to run in open space and pick up a first down should the linebackers and safeties stay back. That leaves the No. 1 reason why P.J. should roll out.
Red Zone Offense
Nothing drives defenses more insane than the threat of a running quarterback near the goal line. They are damned if they come up in run support because the option of throwing to the back of the end zone is always there. They are damned if they do not come up on run support because P.J. has the speed to get to the pylon.
Temple becomes a much better team if the Owls stop trying to jam Phillip Walker into a square Tom Brady peg when P.J. Walker fits more nicely into a Russell Wilson hole. The sooner the Owl coaches realize that, the better their chances of getting out of the quicksand of mediocrity where Phillip and his teammates are mired now.
Thursday: Meet Your New Kicker