The Mechanics of Carson Wentz is nearing it's end, as this will be the last stand-alone piece of the series (there is still one more wrap-up piece coming before the series ends).
I have gone through so many aspects of quarterback play regarding Wentz and how he can turn around his career in Indianapolis. To close out the series, I'm diving into a topic that applies more to his in-season play.
Improving mechanics in the offseason is great, but the key is turning them into muscle memory and maintaining efficiency throughout the season. This is a bit difficult for some quarterback trainers, as they mostly get to work with quarterbacks in the offseason before handing them back to the team come Training Camp.
Here is what (Buffalo Bills' QB) Josh Allen's trainer, Greg Panelli, had to say about players maintaining mechanics while in-season:
It is always tough. That is why you see guys leave during the offseason to go to quarterback coaches. During the season, being able to find time during pre-practice circuits or warm-ups is going to solidify those muscle memory changes. Doing the little things at home too, such as towel drills without a football. It’s hard. I think it is a case by case thing, depending on how much focus is put on it from that individual quarterback.
So in today's article, I am going to look at why it is so important to maintain those mechanics and why Carson Wentz has an advantage in working with Adam Dedeaux.
Mechanics Regress Throughout the Year
A common response I received from quarterback coaches and trainers in this series regarding in-season mechanics is that quarterbacks typically regress mechanically throughout the year.
Most of the time this isn't necessarily the fault of the player. With so much time going into game-planning, practice, and routine workouts, it is hard for a player to remember to take those steps in refining their mechanics.
It is important for players to take that extra step and work while in-season, though. According to Adam Dedeaux (Wentz's quarterback trainer and the CEO of 3DQB), quarterbacks can lose one percent of their mechanical efficiency on a week to week basis.
While that number may not be high, those percentage points can add up. Come week 16, just before a playoff run, a quarterback could be operating at under 85% efficiency for the most important part of the season. This research made Dedeaux change up his process a bit.
"Now, if guys are doing nothing all season long, me and Tom (House) hypothesized that a guy can lose one percent of mechanical efficiency every week." said Dedeaux. "Our biggest thing is we can’t have these guys be on the down-slope come week 16/17/18. We need to be ascending because our best football needs to be played in January and in the playoffs."
This is why maintaining mechanics is a big issue in the NFL and why a lot of players seem to tamper off late in the year. It isn't that players aren't working hard, it's just that the basics can get lost in the shuffle in a long season.
These next couple sections will go into ways to ensure that mechanics stick in a long NFL season.
The Importance of Rest Days
Dedeaux realized a crucial way to help players maintain throughout the year was to institute a natural rest day. He came to this conclusion after a conversation with Atlanta Falcons' quarterback Matt Ryan a few years back:
I remember having a conversation with Matt Ryan about his routine. I asked him about his routine for that particular season and asked, other than the bye week, if he ever had a rest day in a six month season. He basically said not really. One of the things we adjusted was to give those guys off days, physically, on Tuesday to rest their body and their mind. Just so these guys can get an element of recovery in a six month season.
That element of recovery was big for the players that worked with Dedeaux, and he has seen great results in terms of keeping guys fresh late in the year.
With Dedeaux being involved with Wentz's training this offseason, I imagine that Wentz will be operating on a similar plan with the Colts. I am unsure if this is what he was doing in Philadelphia last year, but a regulated rest day throughout the week should help keep him fresh during the season.
The "Dak Dance"
Flashback to 2019 and Dallas Cowboys' quarterback Dak Prescott became a trending topic on social media with his "Dak Dance." The video of his pregame routine became one for fans to laugh at, as the violent hip thrusts made the star quarterback look like he invented a new dance move.
While the Dak Dance does look funny without proper context, it is actually a pivotal drill that quarterbacks use during the season to line up their sequencing.
"We have programs of how guys essentially warm-up every day where they are re-patterning their body to make sure their mechanics stay in line." said Dedeaux. "That gives them something to re-enforce every day versus not working on it at all."
That dance that Prescott is doing is part of the warm-up drill Dedeaux is talking about. Prescott's version of the drill just looks a lot different due to how big and strong he is.
"They all do that, Dak’s is just more on display and he’s such a big, strong guy that makes it look more violent when he does it." said Dedeaux.
3DQB works with 28 starting quarterbacks in some capacity across the league, and a majority of their quarterbacks do some form of this drill. They may not all do it on the field prior to the game like Prescott, but it is a natural sequencing drill that helps maintain mechanics in a long season.
"You see guys like Dak Prescott doing the “Dak Dance” and that is his version of a patterning drill to make sure that the front shoulder is staying locked in and the hips are firing." said Dedeaux. "You will see a lot of our guys do that before games. You’ll see Matt Ryan do it, Jared Goff do it, Carson Wentz do it, Matt Stafford do it. It’s all little movement patterns to re-enforce mechanics."
Why Working with Dedeaux is a Huge Advantage
For a lot of quarterback coaches, their involvement with a quarterback mostly ends when the season starts. Obviously they will keep in contact with their quarterbacks, but they don't have the same access in-season as they do in the offseason.
That isn't necessarily true for Dedeaux, though. With the success of 3DQB, Dedeuax has built up a reputation where he has a good enough connection with coaches around the league to continue working with quarterbacks during the season.
"I have built some great relationships around the league with coaches that are comfortable with the idea that I’m not infringing on anything that they do conceptually or anything X’s and O’s." said Dedeaux. "Since I stay out of that realm, we are able to stay far more collaborative."
Dedeaux keeps in contact with the players in-season and will give his quarterbacks tips and pointers on how to improve. He will even point out these things to the quarterback coaches, and let them know what mechanical flaws to watch out for in order to keep the quarterback on track throughout the year.
This relationship is collaborative all around too. Dedeaux knows that he isn't always in tune with the playbook or what a quarterback should be doing on certain play designs. He starts that dialogue with the quarterback to fully understand where the mechanical problem areas are.
"We will jump on a phone call every Tuesday and go over some notes from the past game. Some of it is a collaboration, so I can understand why physically they are moving a certain way and we talk through it." said Dedeaux. "Then, I would give them a note on a concept for the week so they can remember that for the upcoming game."
Considering how close Dedeaux is to Wentz and how much he has worked with Wentz this offseason, it is safe to assume that Dedeaux will be right there all season to make sure Wentz doesn't regress mechanically.
There is a lot of nuance and science that goes into being a mechanically correct quarterback. The hardest part of the entire process is making sure a quarterback can convert the science into muscle memory and not revert back to bad habits during the year.
While this is an issue for a lot of players, there are simple solutions to ensuring that offseason lessons maintain during the year. If Carson Wentz can stay fresh, work on minor mechanical drills before practices and games, and collaborate with Adam Dedeaux on a weekly basis, he has a good chance to stay mechanically sound throughout this upcoming season.
Wentz obviously had a rough year in 2020 but the blueprint for him to be successful is there for 2021. As long as he is making meaningful improvements to his mechanics and taking the necessary steps to maintain them, he should see a good jump in play for the Colts in 2021.
See Below for More in This Series:
- The Mechanics of Carson Wentz: Setting the Hallway
- The Mechanics of Carson Wentz: Quarterback Sequencing
- The Mechanics of Carson Wentz: Learning From the Success of Josh Allen
- The Mechanics of Carson Wentz: Tom House
- The Mechanics of Carson Wentz: Resetting When Off-Platform
- The Mechanics of Carson Wentz: Adam Dedeaux
- The Mechanics of Carson Wentz: Supporting Cast Matters