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Inside the Numbers: Harbaugh’s prior success with dual-threat QB’s bodes well for Shea Patterson & Michigan

When you give Jim Harbaugh a dual-threat quarterback, he makes the most of that opportunity and starts winning in bunches.

Stanford v USC Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

A dual-threat quarterback isn’t just a quarterback who can run fast.

In order to truly be a dual-threat you have to be GOOD at throwing the football and have EXCELLENT scrambling abilities. Only then is a quarterback accurately deemed a dual-threat.

There aren’t many coaches who have had as much success as Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh when it comes to this type of quarterback.

Harbaugh, a scrambling quarterback himself, ranks in the top 15 all time for rushing yards by an NFL quarterback with 2,787. He knows a thing or two about throwing and running around at the highest of levels.

While Harbaugh would never say what his prototypical quarterback is, an ideal trait he’d like to see his QB have is mobility.

A mobile quarterback makes an offense more dynamic, it makes a coach like Harbaugh more creative by default, excited to add new wrinkles to his scheme.

Harbaugh hasn’t flourished with a dual-threat quarterback just once, he’s done it three times and has won a lot of games in the process.

The first ‘Inside the Numbers’ of the season will focus on Harbaugh’s success with scrambling QB’s and why that bodes well for Shea Patterson and the Michigan offense in 2018.

University of San Diego: Josh Johnson scorches the Earth

Harbaugh’s first head coaching gig gave him a dynamic play-maker in Josh Johnson. The QB started the last two seasons for Harbaugh at USD, in those two years he rushed for a whooping 1,099 yards and 15 touchdowns. During that stretch, USD went 22-2, and in 2006 Johnson led the NCAA-1AA in total offense (336.7 yards per game), passing efficiency (169.0 rating), total passing yards (3,320) and points responsible for (24.33).

Now, that is what I have defined as a dual-threat QB, doing damage with both his arm and his legs. And by the way, Johnson is the cousin of Marshawn Lynch.

Stanford University: With a little Luck you can go far

Harbaugh’s next stop provided him his best pupil, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Great results ensued. Stanford went 20-5 when Harbaugh and Luck were together, culminating in an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech.

In regards to the dual-abilities of Luck, during his two seasons as starting QB for Harbaugh, he rushed for 807 yards and 5 touchdowns, while also throwing 45 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions. ELITE numbers.

In one of my favorite videos, watch Andrew Luck truck a dude like it’s Madden and keep on running.

San Francisco 49ers: Beware of the pistol- Kaepernick is unleashed

During Harbaugh’s second year in San Fran, he made a quarterback change midway through the season, replacing Alex Smith in favor of Colin Kaepernick.

The change resulted in added wrinkles put in to the offense such as the pistol formation and the absolutely lethal read-option. Kaepernick was an electrifying player for a two year span, not many teams could figure him or this scheme out. Defenses didn’t know whether to play the run or the pass and Kaepernick dashed and gashed aplenty.

During 2012 through 2013, Kap rushed for 939 yards in the regular season while adding another 507 yards in the ground in six playoff games, scoring 13 rushing touchdowns in all. His passing prowess was solid too, totaling 31 touchdown passes to 11 interceptions.

Kaepernick’s success got the 49ers into the Super Bowl his first year, where they lost after failing to punch in a touchdown from goal to go in the waning seconds of the game. Year two ended in the NFC Championship game on a tipped pass by Richard Sherman which was intercepted with the 49ers down a score in the last thirty seconds of the game. While the 49ers never won the Lombardi Trophy with Harbaugh and Kaepernick, the duo gave the 49ers their best moments since Steve Young won them a Super Bowl in 1995.

If you want to see Kaepernick torch Charles Woodson and the Packers with his legs, watch the video below.

What do these numbers mean for Shea Patterson?

The premise of this article and what the numbers mean for Patterson is based on my belief he has the ability to be a good all around quarterback that can beat teams with his arm and legs alike.

If that is indeed the case, if Patterson really is a dual-threat quarterback, I believe that bodes well for Michigan’s offensive success in 2018.

When you have a quarterback who can “do it all”, the offensive line is going to be playing faster and more physical because they know their blocking assignments could end up being ten yards or more down the field, there’s really no staying put.

And with a dual-threat QB, as I’ve noted above, the offense changes because of their skill-set. I’d be shocked if we didn’t see the pistol formation, read option, RPO, and other added formations and plays to best utilize what Patterson does best.

If Shea Patterson is what I think he is, he will be added to this list that includes Johnson, Luck, and Kaepernick as yet another example of a scrambling quarterback that Jim Harbaugh got the most out of and won a lot of games with.