Sometimes, it’s hard to critique someone properly when you’re cheering for them at times. When Nebraska took the field for their matchup vs. Arkansas State, Tanner Lee was there for all of us to see, good or bad.
Fortunately, he had more good than bad on the day, but what can you say about how he got to some of his throws? Well, you can find a NFL writer who gets what we should be looking for.
Nicholas Martin is an editor at Behind The Steel Curtain, the SB Nation site for all things Pittsburgh Steelers. And, with evidence of his Twitter feed, a big-time fan of QB evaluation. So, when I saw this pop up on his Twitter:
Tanner Lee vs Central Arkansas thread— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) September 3, 2017
You better believe that I took a look at wanted to know what a third party thought of Lee’s performance. With the permission of Nick, we’re posting the videos he took, along with the tweets of what he saw. I’ll add things in between the tweets as well.
First pass, PA, clearly wanted to bomb it down field, wish he had saw the TE out in the flat, almost completes it across his body. pic.twitter.com/Xo0ICkAIZB— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) September 3, 2017
I want to think that getting on the field for the first time in almost two full seasons gave Lee some butterflies, and he hits the flat man more times than not on this play. Lee did get lucky that the DB didn’t know the ball was there, or else it’s a bad start.
Eyed down the corner post, but the defender had very little shot at it. The arm strength on full display there. Should've been a TD. pic.twitter.com/RqSLr4yUXz— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) September 3, 2017
It’s been stated that Tyler Hoppes should have had this ball, but there was video that the ball was tipped before it got to Hoppes.
Here's another angle of that last pass. pic.twitter.com/OnyQHvMp4S— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) September 3, 2017
Either way, it’s something that folks noticed more times than not in that it was the Nebraska player catching it or it was incomplete.
First game, lot of eyeing down right now. Nice throw though off platform though. Ton of zip. pic.twitter.com/3wwCM3ScH9— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) September 3, 2017
This seems like a really good play by the ArkSt defense. It’s been known that Langsdorf loves the smash concept in this area, only running it with Cethan Carter at TE going to the corner. LB doesn’t run off the drag route, probably cause of Lee’s eyes here once he sees the corner with the double team. The inside stunt from the ArkSt DE rushes Lee into a quicker than ideal throw, something that can’t happen on the side away from the slide of the protection. Lee does a great job of keeping his eyes downfield in the face of pressure, something that we haven’t seen from Husker QB’s in a very long time.
Looks like the guard was expecting outside help, miscommuncation it looks like, leads to a sack. pic.twitter.com/5fXH8leqjB— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) September 3, 2017
It initially appears like this is totally on Tre Bryant, who went looking for work to help instead of waiting to see who got through, but it actually was a simple miscommunication between Farmer and Knevel, further exacerbated by Farmer getting beat by the ArkState 3 technique. It was the first of a couple times that Lee was really hit hard in the entire game. This was also the only sack as well for Arkansas State in the entire game.
PA (I'd like to see him sell it a little better with his shoulder), good job side stepping the rush, got outside drew the LBs in, complete. pic.twitter.com/8ChejxryJd— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) September 3, 2017
The play-action critique is very valid, and if you’re taking one thing that Lee could really do better through the season, it’s this. Nebraska’s running game was solid enough, plus draw plays were being called at a decent rate to make the PA look very valuable. Lee could sell this better after he gets a better peek at coverage.
PA (this time he sells a little better with the shoulder), sets up into a perfect pocket and throws a dime for a TD. Beaut of a throw. pic.twitter.com/aTMNqYh7F8— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) September 3, 2017
This was probably the second or even third best throw on the evening for Lee, off of Nebraska’s favorite play-action passing concept, Sail, which will be broken down later this week. The PA is sold better and the playside safety went to the tight end, creating one on one down the field. The perfect throw and Morgan made the catch for the touchdown.
PA (what else is new), little bit of happy feet but he settles and hits the curl, YAC leads to a 1st down. pic.twitter.com/94oq4C1kFN— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) September 3, 2017
When you see what happened to the OL on the play, you can see why Lee got happy feet waiting for the curl/flat defender to expand with the H-back, in order to open the window for De’Mornay Pierson-El’s snag route. It was throw the ball to DPE, or take the sack near the goalline. It’s worth noting that the TE seam was there if Lee has a minute to set and fire.
PA, noticing a lot of half field reads (good way to keep it simple), steps into this throw, gets it over the LB and hits the 10 yard curl. pic.twitter.com/gOFg8qDgoV— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) September 3, 2017
I’ll be blunt and tell you that this is the touch that Tommy Armstrong couldn’t show consistently the last couple of years. That pass probably sails on TA and gets picked off more times than not. Also, notice once again the TE on top of the screen has ample room to run on the checkdown.
PA, rollout to the right, uncorks a bomb off platform, not a bad throw but if he had lead him, that was 6. WR couldn't locate. pic.twitter.com/zlhVKnmt94— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) September 3, 2017
I felt like this was a wasted play in that there was a WR at the sticks heading towards the boundary on the same side Lee was. That seemed like a better and simpler throw, so did the Hoppes checkdown right on the edge of the N. That being said, the throw that was made was placed away from the oncoming safety, where the Nebraska guy catches it or it falls incomplete.
Nice touch and decent timing on the corner post by Tanner Lee. Nice catch too by Stanley Morgan Jr. pic.twitter.com/kc22JksYDN— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) September 3, 2017
This does not seem like a throw that is easy to make, but you’ll notice that Nebraska loves the slot corner route a lot.
PA, seems to be looking to his right, calmly comes back over the middle and hits his guy, but it was dropped. Smooth delivery pic.twitter.com/r51erEhWXO— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) September 3, 2017
This is probably the one play JD Spielman wishes he could get back. Catch this ball and Nebraska can close out the clock on the half and not give the ball back to ASU. A big deal when Nebraska gets the ball to start the third quarter.
Looks like man, slot receiver (either TE or WR) is running a corner post, LB hands it off to the safety, Lee places it high and away. pic.twitter.com/KBooJaV3qr— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) September 3, 2017
Again, a throw made where the Nebraska player gets it or no one does. Tyler Hoppes had a hell of a catch here on Nebraska’s favorite smash concept, and he doesn’t mind that he’ll have to go up to get the football.
This is perfect placement away from the safety and a great catch to say the least. pic.twitter.com/DoBwyLDl4z— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) September 3, 2017
We all wondered who would take over the reins of Cethan Carter at TE, and it appears Hoppes is on his way to at least being the pass-catching version of Cethan.
I absolutely hate the placement on this throw. I love how calm he is in the pocket but focus on maybe moving the 1 high safety more. pic.twitter.com/bjaIwok0fA— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) September 4, 2017
With the good, you get the bad at times. This seemed to be the first of two questionable moves by Lee. He never looked off the safety, who went with the TE the first time. That almost leads to a armpunt interception. He may have had Pierson-El earlier on the play in the seam.
Going forward, want to see more manipulation of the LB. He starts out left, he'll probably be able to hit his WR in stride for more YAC. pic.twitter.com/ohSTH7Y9DZ— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) September 4, 2017
I thought Lee was late on this throw to Spielman. If he hits him in stride, I think JD gets at the very least past midfield. Maybe the LB is there though to knock it down or intercept it.
This throw is a little odd, steps into it on his tippy toes, CB plays it great, pins WR to sideline, I don't mind throwing it out of bounds. pic.twitter.com/MZ4xMyu1xP— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) September 4, 2017
Without knowing if anyone is open on the bottom of the screen, this seemed to be the best place to throw the ball. Again, yes the catch is made OOB. But, you’ll take that over the cornerback and WR going up for a 50-50 ball.
This is a long down and distance, nothing there, pressure coming, he's still calm, finds his checkdown. pic.twitter.com/vI37dRlwdE— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) September 4, 2017
If it wasn’t for Jerald Foster getting biffed on the stunt, Lee would have probably had a little better time to get the ball to Mikale Wilbon without the football being imprinted in Mikale’s sternum.
This is one of those throws that low key impress me. CAT blitz goes unblocked, blind side pressure, still places a nice pass on time. INC. pic.twitter.com/1X64SIMr21— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) September 4, 2017
I honestly don’t know if I need to be impressed that Lee got it out before he got clobbered, or upset that Wilbon didn’t see this blitz coming. Probably both.
I charted this in the WTF category. First off he's got an open checkdown, but more importantly, what the hell was that throw? pic.twitter.com/KgF84L86uU— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) September 4, 2017
This is by all means, the worst throw by Lee all evening long. Lee has 2 checkdowns open, PLUS he has Morgan on the cross just to the right. Quarterbacks make bad decisions and this must have been the worst one by Tanner all evening long.
Next play, short drop, beautiful touch and nice placement outside on this vertical route from the slot WR. pic.twitter.com/NpI7jeIzv5— The Mick Nartin™ (@themicknartin) September 4, 2017
And, finally, the worst throw of the day is followed by my pick for throw of the evening. Dropped in a perfect spot for Spielman, who caught it in stride before the safety got over to clobber him.
I’m not a QB expert by any means, so understand this is more just spot critique outside of anything. However, these tweets back up the notion that Lee is one of the more noticed NFL QB prospects around. While Diacogate spread across the papers on Sunday, the quiet story is that Lee proved something on Saturday night. Granted, he has room to improve off of an iffy fourth quarter. However, as I said before, if you get this Tanner Lee game in and game out, Nebraska will be quite all right on offense all season long.
Thanks to Nick Martin for letting me use his goods. Follow him on Twitter and make sure you check out Behind The Steel Curtain and follow them on Twitter as well for all your Pittsburgh Steelers needs.