Adam Weber’s tough career as Minnesota’s quarterback may soon become even more complicated.
Should current Gophers offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch accept a job with an NFL team (I’ll touch on the absurdity of that possibility later), Weber would be working under his third offensive coordinator in four seasons.
Of course, quarterbacks need to be able to adapt to changes, but Weber only has so much room to learn. New plays, new style, new coach; not to mention however many credits he’s taking. He’s being given little chance to succeed.
Mike Dunbar served as offensive coordinator during Weber’s first two seasons — 2007 and 2008. When Dunbar resigned in January 2009, head coach Tim Brewster — entering his third season at Minnesota — hired Fisch, whose position prior to joining the Gophers was as wide receivers coach for the Denver Broncos. Weber had to learn a completely different offense; Dunbar was a spread guru, Fisch runs a pro-style offense.
Despite evident fan unrest during the second half of the 2009 season and weekly questions about whether freshman MarQueis Gray should step in as the starter, Weber’s talent is undeniable.
Quarterbacks don’t throw for 2,895 yards in their first season without aptitude.
Granted, that was 2007, and the 1-11 Gophers often found themselves playing from behind; but Weber certainly could not be blamed. That year, Weber was a third-team freshman All-American on a team that won just one game.
In 2008, still under Dunbar, Weber continued to thrive. His quarterback rating spiked more than 6 points to 126.93 . Minnesota began the 2008 season 7-1. The team stumbled to a 7-6 finish, but Weber again received deserved accolades, including a spot on the second All-Big Ten team.
Now consider 2009. Running Fisch’s pro-style offense instead of spreading wide receivers and taking all snaps in the shotgun, Weber spent significant time under center and never appeared truly comfortable. By all statistical measures, his season was a bust.
Weber was drowning in a sea of complex hand signals and unfamiliar sets before the season began, then he had to deal with constant questions about his declining performance.
Some people wanted him to fail. Winning 2009 trophy games and improving in 2008 might have been the only way to muffle critics that called for Gray.
So, no, he wasn’t perfect, but he also was not horrible after being asked to adjust to a new system and change his throwing motion. Comfort level is extremely important for quarterbacks. He threw more interceptions and fewer touchdowns in 2009 than in 2008, but the new system, new throwing motion, loss of All-Big Ten wide receiver Eric Decker, an injured offensive line and an inconsistent defense all played larger roles than did Weber’s performance. As the adage goes, quarterbacks tend to get too much credit for wins and too much blame for losses.
Moving forward, the Seattle Seahawks were expected to announce Fisch as their new quarterbacks coach sometime Tuesday.
What are the Seahawks thinking? Upon first glance, it appears that they are not. They would be hiring a guy who, as a first-year offensive coordinator, led the Gophers to the lowest offensive output of any Big Ten team. Minnesota ranked 11th in the Big Ten in both scoring and total offense.
Fisch has had some success as a specialized coach, both with wide receivers and quarterbacks, in the NFL. It wouldn’t be the worst hire ever, but for a Seahawks team that is starting completely fresh and has many questions regarding its quarterback situation, Fisch doesn’t appear to be the right fit.
New head coach Pete Carroll will likely bring to Seattle excitement that has waned since the Seahawks were in the Super Bowl in 2006.
As for the excitement that Fisch brings? The Insight Bowl — which featured the Gophers losing by 1 to Iowa State — had the lowest television ratings of the 34 bowl games. It aired on NFL Network, a partnership that may have something to do with the likelihood of the game having a low viewership to begin with.
Not a good hire for the Seahawks. Not a good dismissal for the Gophers and Weber. The offensive style may remain the same once Fisch is gone, but because he did not see his changes through, Weber and Gophers fans — what few remain — will suffer.