So in case you didn’t hear, Trey Lance and his mechanics are back in the news. And it’s more positivity. A story from The Athletic describes Lance’s time with quarterbacks coach Jeff Christensen, Kyle already has a great write up on the article and Lance’s need for change, but there’s definitely something that needs to be said about the mechanics themselves, basically skeptical optimism.
I know, I know. All of this coaching, and responding to coaching is great, but we’re talking years of something that came naturally, changed in a matter of months. All this is great; the windup has been worked on, the ducks are alleviated, the arm fatigue (which I still don’t get) has an answer, but it remains a work in progress. There’s working on it in a coaching/practice setting and then there’s having the mental fortitude to continue sticking with it on game day when things don’t go your way and you’re far away from your quarterback guru.
A long time ago on a sportsblog far, far away, I explained why a quarterback visits a QB coach in the offseason. It gives them time to break things down and then go through the awkward way of re-building something that is second nature. Changing your release or throwing motion isn’t something that happens overnight. It happens with rep after rep. And how many reps does it take?
While head coach at University of San Diego, former 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh held a QB clinic and said it takes 10,000 reps to break a bad habit. That may seem excessive, but those of us who have had to fix our posture, change our form at the gym, or work on a golf swing know that’s pretty accurate.
You’re taking what your brain tells you to do that’s natural and that you’ve done for years and you are re-learning how to do it. That’s Step 1. Step 2 is doing it more habitually; going against what has worked for so long. Step 3 is maintaining that form when trouble hits.
Christensen has given him the tools, but he just broke down something Lance has been doing since he was a kid. Lance has the obvious great start of an offseason, but can he keep that up on game day when there’s four defenders coming to knock his head off? Or will he slowly revert back to bad habits? That’s what we need to see now. It’s also what can define Trey Lance’s career. Because if he is mechanically sound, maybe he can wrestle that job from Brock Purdy.
No doubt Trey Lance’s release has improved and with the injury healed, the wobbly ducks he threw should be a thing of the past. While he’s retooled everything the question now is if he can take everything he’s learned this offseason and do it consistently even when things might not go his way. Some quarterbacks can (Aaron Rodgers is a good example of someone completely retooled in the NFL; watch his Cal tape), others just revert to what worked at one point. It’s no one’s fault, it’s just hard to work against your brain on something you’ve done naturally your whole life. It takes time. Far more than a few weeks or even months.
The question is when do you think he has it down and this release/mechanic thing isn’t an issue? Preseason? A few games in the regular season? When will you feel better about it? For me it’s game day. Show me these new mechanics during an NFL game when you are getting knocked around and throwing an interception or two, and you stick with it, then I know you’re ready to go.