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How To Build Chemistry Between A Quarterback & Receiver


Understanding the relationship between quarterbacks and wide

receivers goes a lot deeper than just being familiar with the playbook.

After watching numerous teams from the high school level and up, it’s

quickly become apparent the difference between strong and weak

chemistry. Obviously, the best solution to solving these potential issues

is through practice and getting reps together. After all, doesn’t practice

make perfect? In this article, I’ll take a more in-depth look at this

concept of chemistry between the two vital offensive positions.

General Importance

Taking a look at this idea of from a general standpoint, we realize the

most efficient and effective quarterback-receiver duos weren’t one-hit

wonders. You don’t form this magical tandem right off the bat. Over the

course of history, some of the most electric duos included Jim Kelly to

Andre Reed, Dan Marino to Mark Clayton, Peyton Manning to Marvin

Harrison, and so on. The commonality amongst all of these is the fact

that they played together for at least 10 seasons. When you go through

offseason workouts and entire seasons together for that long, chemistry

arises. This section wasn’t just designed to get you thinking of how

chemistry is needed to be truly great, but also that it isn’t a quick

process.

Extra Reps Before/After Practice

During regular practice time, it is likely you’ll improve your skills vastly

over the course of the season. Particularly if you’re rather new to the

game, you will be amazed by how much you can learn and grow as a

player. Likewise, chances are players will be split into position groups

for a period of time at each practice. This time will be critical towards

developing a relationship with your teammates that play the same

position. The same logic can be applied to receivers catching passes

from their quarterback. However, I don’t believe you can ever have

enough practice at these two spots. Just as in basketball where you can

never shoot enough free throws before and after practice, this hard-

working mentality can be applied to football.

For any receivers and quarterbacks interested in taking advantage of

this extra time, I recommend doing some routes before and after

practices. Not only will this impress the coaches who might give the

players more playing time, but it will help develop chemistry. Each

player will start to understand more and more of how the other

operates on the football field

More in Common than Just Football

Yes, I understand that the reason you’re spending this extra time

practicing together is to score more points in the games, but this time

will be much better spent if you get along with each other. Especially for

some of the younger players, they might not play past high school. So,

with this being the case, shouldn’t you try to make some memories that

will last and gain a friend that’s there for you on-and-off the field? It’s

nice to have someone that’s willing to put in the work to be a better

football player, but in the end, having something in common other than

football can truly help broaden the overall relationship.

Trust & Timing

“The essence of football was blocking, tackling, and execution based on

timing, rhythm and deception.” This quote is from Knute Rokne, who

was the head coach at Notre Dame from 1918-1930. Since Rokne’s time

on the sideline, the game has changed tremendously. However, these

concepts of rhythm and timing still very much exist. Have you ever seen

an offensive unit get in a flow during a game where they seem to be

unstoppable? I, for one, can tell you that I’ve witnessed this countless

times. The dynamic of a pass play requires trust and timing between all

parties. The receivers have to trust their timing is perfect (thanks to

those extra reps!) and believe their quarterback won’t leave them in a

position where they’ll get blindsided by a defensive back. Likewise, the

quarterbacks must trust the receivers knows their route and will turn at

the correct time. Failure on the receiver’s part to accurately complete

this task will possibly result in an interception, which won’t only upset

the quarterback, but also force him to be hesitant in looking in that

receiver’s area in future opportunities. Without the proper trust and

timing, it is quite likely you’ll be witnessing a sub-par passing attack.

Respect for Each Other

Due to football’s tough nature, it isn’t uncommon to see things get a

little chippy on the sidelines. Even at the youth levels, players

understand how difficult it is to get regular playing time at some of the

skill positions, with one of these being quarterback. However, that

doesn’t give you the right to disrespect a teammate after a mistake.

Some of this falls on the coach for creating the proper culture, while

plenty is on the shoulders of the players. Ultimately, if you want players

to spend the extra time to build chemistry with their teammates, they

need to feel respected. It all goes back to the idea of this relationship

taking time to develop. There will be peaks and valleys, but the finish

line is only possible when both sides show respect.

Willingness to Work

The last concept I’ll bring up is the willingness to work. In the past, I’ve

heard people say the only way to build an elite quarterback-receiver

duo is through a couple of exceptional players. Yes, talent is essential,

but remember “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

It’s not rocket science to see how dominant a tandem of Tom Brady and

Randy Moss can be, but how about the effectiveness that the Matt

Cassel-Dwayne Bowe duo had? What I’m trying to say is it all comes

down to a willingness to work. If you’re fourth on the depth chart at

receiver, then pull the quarterback aside and let him know you’d like to

change where you currently sit. Make him aware that you’re willing to

put in whatever extra work is needed to form the chemistry and create a

duo that can put up points in a hurry!

Just Do It!

You’ve probably heard this famous slogan from Nike, but I’ve put it here

as a closing statement to urge you to try to develop this chemistry with

your teammate. Nothing negative can be created from this extra effort. It

might not result in the next Jim Kelly-Andre Reed tandem, but it could

create something you’d never expect. Maybe you’ll form a long-time

friend or make you a harder worker in the classroom, you just never

know. Rather than attempting to decide whether or not to try, just do it!

Check out what Jim Harbaugh talked about to Patrick Willis and the 49ers about Team Chemistry.