What makes a great quarterback?

We all know the most important position on the football field is the quarterback. They are the person who all of the offensive plays run through, and ultimately where the scores are going to come from. It’s such a vital position that championships can be won or lost just based on who is playing QB. So what makes a great quarterback?

What makes a great quarterback?


If a quarterback is only good at one thing, there’s a good chance they will get nullified when it comes to the major leagues. Having a cannon of an arm is great, but if you can’t make a 10-yard pass when the time calls for it, you’re going to struggle at the top of the game. The best quarterbacks can throw at all ranges, and aren’t just looking for that hail mary pass everytime they receive the snap.

A great arm

It goes without saying that a great quarterback must have a great arm, otherwise they are never going to reach the wide receivers. The quarterback must be able to nail their shot nine times out of ten, or sometimes even better than that.
The coach is relying on the quarterback executing their plays perfectly, and if their arm is off by even a couple of percent that can be enough to lose. Quarterbacks live on their arms and all of the greats down the years have had powerful yet consistent throws.

Mobility and strength – buying time

Sometimes the opposition defense is all over your plays, and the quarterback doesn’t have any open options. For the elite in the sport that’s not a problem and they have the agility to keep the ball for a few extra seconds until something opens up.
Quarterbacks need to be robust enough to withstand some pressure from linebackers sprinting toward them. Those precious few seconds can be the difference between making progress down the field or swapping out for the defensive team.

What makes a great quarterback?

Understand football

All quarterbacks need to have a deep love for football and understand what’s going on during each game. They need to be able to make adjustments on their own, as the coach might not have spotted what’s happening yet.
Being able to recognize where your opponents are trying to neutralize your team’s play can lead to you finding new openings and confusing their coach. Some of the best quarterbacks in history have been able to react to opposition defensive changes and still come out on top.

Encyclopedic knowledge of the playbook

While great quarterbacks can decide what plays they need to run on their own, sometimes they need to follow the coach’s advice. If they have to run off to check the playbook every time the coach wants to run something different, then people won’t have much confidence in them.
Quarterbacks need to be able to run the plays the coaches want to play, otherwise they’re going to end up watching from the sidelines. Sometimes that means learning the entire playbook, and the hand signals that with them. Who says football players don’t need brains?

Vision, not getting blinded, height

A great quarterback needs to have an overall view of the field if they are to run the show. That means they can’t get blinded by onrushing defensemen, nor can they only look for their wide receivers. Sometimes a shorter pass is on and it will take the team to the next phase of play, but if a QB is only looking long, they won’t spot that pass.
One aspect that many coaches believe quarterbacks need is height, and many top QBs measure in at 6 ft 5, or 6 ft 6. They need to see over the huddle of players crashing into each other to spot where their next pass is going.


Coaches need to rely on their quarterbacks to perform each and every game. That means no matter the weather, or the standard of opponent, they must turn up and bring their A-games. If the coach knows his quarterback will play an 8/10 every time, then he knows he’s got some points on the board before the game even starts. Players like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Joe Montana, and Aaron Rodgers always made sure they showed up on gameday and gave it everything.

What makes a great quarterback?

Fast release

If a quarterback takes too long to decide what he’s going to do with the football the chances are he’s getting sacked. The best quarterbacks can release the ball no later than 3 seconds after the snap which prevents the defense getting too close.
It’s all about the element of surprise in football and taking too long to release the ball makes it much easier for opposing defenses to be ready. Elite quarterbacks need to be decisive and not waste time overthinking about what to do.

What pressure?

Great quarterbacks need have the nerves of a sniper and cannot panic no matter how many players are charging at them. Quarterbacks need to trust their offensive blockers to do their job so they can focus on finding the important passes. The best quarterbacks in history have had ice in their veins and panic never seemed to make it into their vocabulary.


Perhaps the most essential quality a quarterback must have is the determination to win, no matter the odds. Winning is ultimately what players are judged on, and if a QB can win consistently, they are sure to be considered a great player. Losing football games never gets anyone to the Super Bowl, so quarterbacks must be driven to succeed.
Many things make a great quarterback, but most of the greats throughout history have all shown they excel in these departments. Life at the top isn’t easy, so the best quarterbacks have to be on their games at all times, but thanks to these qualities, they mostly always are.

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