4 Reasons Why Quarterback is the Hardest Position in Football

Updated on 
March 30, 2022

Football is a very unique sport in its ability to have 22 players on a field at once. Each position has its own responsibilities and unique talents.

If you are either a die-hard NFL fan or a casual viewer of the league, you notice the quarterbacks of your favorite teams will always be the most notable player from their roster. When you ask a random person to name an NFL player, chances are they will name a quarterback.

With all of that recognition, you have to earn such attention and in doing so the long and hard journey awaits.

Is quarterback the hardest position in football?

If you have played football before you'll quickly notice if you have what it takes to become a quarterback at any level. Most people do not have the arm talent alone to become a quarterback for any level of competition.

If you do believe you have the god-given arm talent to become a quarterback, that is the first question answered of a very long test to see if you're ready to become a star in the National Football League.

So is quarterback the hardest position in football?

The majority of NFL executives and fans will agree on the fact that playing quarterback at any level will be the most difficult position to play at that respective level. Whether it is the pressure, being a leader, or overall talent, the quarterback position will be recognized as the most difficult position to play in the sport of football.


Why is quarterback the hardest position in football?

1. Media coverage

As kids, we all grow and want to be the next all-star we see on the television. So, hearing you will get lots of media coverage sounds like a good thing, right?

Well, that may be dependent on the person, but with the coverage, you will receive, that will come at a consequence, as pressure will rise from circles around the NFL, and overall fandom.

As a die-hard chargers fan myself, I see the media and fans across the world lay into all positions, but when our super-star quarterback, Justin Herbert makes a single bad play or doesn't play a singular game up to expectations, he gets a lot of negative coverage.

Beyond when you have a bad game or bad play, in the age of social media, this play can last forever and become the narrative for your entire career as a player. Of course, this can happen with all positions, but quarterback being highlighted the most makes it much easier for the media to belittle you.

2. Overall pressure

The media and pressure go hand in hand, but both separately can be enough to break someone's willpower and/or change their career trajectory quickly.

For example,

Have you heard of the name Nathan Peterman? If you haven't then that's probably a good thing for him. If you have, you know him for his narrative of being a very bad quarterback.

Where did that narrative come from?

Well, on November 19th, 2017, the Bills decided to bench their starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor for Nathan Peterman against their week 11 opponent, the Los Angeles Chargers.

The pressure was on for Peterman, fans practically begging him to light a spark for a then lackluster Bills offense. Unfortunately, it went quite the opposite way.

During this game, the Bills ended up losing 24-54, with their quarterback throwing a whopping five interceptions. Those interceptions were definitely one of the main causes of losing that game, and the media tore Nathan Peterman to shreds because of this moment in his career.

Nathan Peterman went on to become strictly a backup quarterback.

Fun Fact: Subsequentially, Tyrod Taylor became the Chargers quarterback in 2020.

3. Being the commander of an offense and team

In 2021, 21 of the 32 NFL teams had their starting signal-caller as one of their team captains. A quarterback's job is to command and lead their team.

When you become the team's starting quarterback, you are required to know your responsibility as well as everyone else's responsibilities.

When you receive the play call from the coach, you have to repeat it in a loud, clear manner to your teammates, to ensure proper play from them.

You need to be a liked player in the locker room, as the entire offense is paid to either protect you, catch passes from you, or both.

Becoming a well-rounded person is very important, even in sports like football. If your teammates do not like you, chances are the difficulty of becoming a successful quarterback will increase.

4. Having intensive football IQ

Having what is called "football IQ" is very important to ensure success.

Beyond knowing the responsibilities of both yourself and your teammates, you must truly understand what these responsibilities mean.

For example, a standard play call would be; Red Right 30 Pull Trap

Play calls will vary depending on the level of football you are competing at, but at the highest level, expect a long, grocery like list of words that translates to formations, play types, offensive line protection, and cadence.

Now, what does Red Right 30 Pull Trap mean?

According to a Reddit user on r/nfl :

  • "Red Right" specifies the pro set formation, with three receivers and two backs.
  • The receivers include a split end to the left, a tight end, and a flanker to the right. The backs consist of a halfback and a fullback split two yards apart and two yards behind the quarterback. The fullback is lined up on the strong side (the side of the formation with the tight end) behind the right tackle, while the halfback is lined up behind the left tackle.
  • In "30", the "3" specifies a toss play: The quarterback delivers the ball to the halfback with an underhanded toss. The "0" specifies the hole the halfback will run toward. (The "0-hole" is the gap between the center and right guard).
  • "Pull trap" describes a blocking scheme: The backside guard (the one away from the flow of the play) will "pull" out from his normal position to "trap block", which means he leads the running back through the hole and blocks the linebacker back towards the backside of the play.

Now I know that's a lot to take in, but that's a very basic play call, and becoming a quarterback will quickly test your brains and study skills.

Wrapping it up

As a long-time offensive lineman, I've spent countless hours practicing and playing to protect my quarterbacks. I have always enjoyed blocking for my quarterbacks when they are particularly more a friend than a basic teammate. I personally could never become a quarterback due to basic arm talent deficiencies.

All in all, becoming a successful quarterback means becoming way more than just an able-bodied athlete.

You have to please coaches and teammates alike with your personality.

You have to have extensive knowledge of the complicated game of football and the ability to know the responsibilities of the entire offense.

You also have to be a very mentally strong athlete with being able to take large amounts of criticism from media and fans alike.

Lastly, if you cannot handle being under pressure, becoming a quarterback is something you should reconsider.

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Tom Lindeman
Ball Athlete project
Hey! My name is Tom and I created this blog in order to help people wherever they are in their sport journey. Inspirational posts, guides, reviews and much more! Read about the project here.
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