Jim Harbaugh has a new pupil, and it’s a player with a skill-set he loves. New Michigan Wolverines quarterback, Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson brings a diverse skill-set to the table for Michigan. Patterson has a ceiling that’s glaringly high.
2017 Stats: 63.8% completion percentage, 2,259 yards passing, 17 TD, 9 INT
What Patterson can bring to Michigan
- Michigan’s offense will evolve with Patterson:
The offense will feature plenty more read-option and pistol looks with Patterson. He has the speed and attributes to feature formations Harbaugh used with Colin Kaepernick that are lethal in the run game. The pistol has plenty of passing plays mixed in where the receivers and H-back are involved. The mix of pass-run out of the pistol really confuses a defense if it’s ran to perfection, and lots of points can be scored on big chunk run and pass plays .
The Michigan offense will be much the same as it has been with Patterson, but Harbaugh is always willing to mold his offense around the skills of his quarterback, thus the playbook will expand with Patterson. The offense could become the most explosive we’ve seen in the Harbaugh era.
- Pump fake:
It may sound like common knowledge that using a pump fake every now and then is a good idea, but not even every quarterback in the NFL utilizes it. Patterson’s pump fake intuition can freeze defenders, which allows him to run or make a target more open than he would have been. The pump fake is believable by Patterson, and it’s kind of a big deal, Drew Brees has been freezing safeties for years with his pump fake.
Watching some of Patterson’s play reminds me of Fran Tarkenton and Russell Wilson. He has a knack to evade defenders and sense when to roll out and buy more time. He has a shifty elusiveness where he hits top speed right away and quickly diagnoses which cut to make. How deep Patterson rolls away to avoid defenders can become way beyond the line of scrimmage, but he’s able to do it without getting tackled, allowing for open receivers to be found downfield. Split second maneuvers by Patterson are every bit as good as some of the finer running backs, this kid is an athlete.
- Accuracy - Arm Strength - Form:
When it comes to accuracy, Patterson can make any throw on the field, he just needs to become more consistent in delivering them. Short and intermediate throws aren’t a problem for him, and when it comes to the deep ball? He can let it rip. Long throws have some pop and Patterson has the ability to hit his target in stride. His arm strength is good enough.
Arm strength isn’t everything, another variable that makes a good throw is form. Patterson has a lot of upper body strength and uses it, he torques his upper body in the proper position, and that allows him to really drive the football, giving his throws more zip.
Does Patterson get the ball out quick? Sometimes. Like most second year players, getting rid of the football in three seconds or less isn’t going to happen all the time, but Patterson did it enough to show he can quickly diagnose where to go with the football. His delivery is fast and sound mechanically.
When a quarterback can throw on the run with power and accuracy it creates a hard problem for a defense to solve. Patterson can throw with the best of them on the run. He has pocket passer abilities but when you’re able to roll effectively to your right and buy extra time, that’ll give a defense fits, ask Aaron Rodgers.
Russell Wilson 2.0
I’ve seen a lot of comparisons that are saying Patterson is a lot like Johnny Manziel (on the field). Patterson’s scrambling prowess is more calculated and faster than Manziel, his movement looks eerily similar to Russell Wilson at times. Manziel had an underdeveloped body, Patterson has plenty of muscle in his frame, just like Wilson.
The similarities between Patterson and Wilson don’t just stop there. Both players transferred to other institutions. Wilson transferred after his junior year from NC State to Wisconsin, and he became a more refined passer. Wilson cut his interceptions from 14 to 4, and his completion percentage went from 58.6% to 72.8%.
When Wilson jumped from NC State to Wisconsin he faced naysayers that same way Patterson now is, as many felt he couldn’t limit his interceptions and become a more accurate passer. Well, things changed, and Wilson had one of the best seasons by a quarterback in Wisconsin’s history.
This isn’t to say Patterson will become as good as Russell Wilson, but I’m saying he has a whole hell of a lot of talent and we haven’t seen the best out of him yet. When looking at his body of work, he has more than a handful of wow-worthy plays that are no fluke.
What Patterson can improve on
Overall, Patterson has good instincts, but he can force dangerous throws. He has a bit of a gunslinger mentality that can serve him well, but also can hurt him. It’s important going forward he learns to live to see another down and not turn the ball over.
With that said, one of the most highly touted NFL prospects, UCLA QB Josh Rosen had a worse season statistically than Patterson. Rosen had a worse completion percentage and passer rating (also threw more interceptions but played in four more games). It’s not to defend Patterson’s interceptions, but he’s shown tremendous promise in his first two seasons in college.
A further breakdown of Patterson’s 2017 stats
Shea Patterson is rumored be transferring to Michigan. Here's a look at his passing chart at Ole Miss this season pic.twitter.com/nuN6k27eWk— CFB Film Room (@CFBFilmRoom) December 6, 2017
Throwing across his body 10+ yards down the field to the left side didn’t produce good results for Patterson, and the discrepancy of throws 10-19 yards from the middle left and middle right are astounding, as Patterson ranked in the top 25th percentile on the right, and bottom 25th on the left.
If you look at the stats, it’s clear he can improve on deep balls, but his ability to hit targets 20+ yard long is better than the numbers would indicate. Being able to distribute the football in a balanced and accurate manner to all quadrants of the field is ideal, and that is something he will have to do at Michigan if the offense is to play at a high level.
Another area of improvement is footwork. Sometimes Patterson can dance a little too much instead of doing his quarterback drops in a study and sound rhythm. Footwork is so important to the success of a quarterback and can be overlooked. Harbaugh should be able to fix the consistency here and make sure the little hiccups go away.
What will Patterson become?
I’m not one who enjoys throwing around predictions and pretending I have a crystal ball, but I like Patterson’s traits enough to believe he could be a fine quarterback for the Michigan Wolverines.
If Patterson is able to improve his weaknesses and strengthen where he already excels, he could put the team in the conversation for Big Ten Championships and College Football Playoff berths. There’s a long way to go and a short time to get there, but his ceiling is as high as just about any quarterbacks in the nation. Combine that with the fact Jim Harbaugh is now his head coach? Watch out.
Patterson has shown fire on the field, he gets animated and his teammates at Ole Miss rallied around him because of it. A great trait to have in the arsenal, but what could be the greatest trait of all?
Bill Walsh once said “The single trait that separates great quarterbacks from good quarterbacks is the ability to make the great, spontaneous decision, especially at a crucial time. The clock is running down and your team is five points behind. The play that was called has broken down and 22 players are moving in almost unpredictable directions all over the field.”
Could Patterson have that trait in him? It’s a trait Russell Wilson has, and I stand by my comparison.