Film Study: New Orleans Saints new quarterback Joe Callahan
By Ty Anania
The Saints have a new quarterback. Joe Callahan, the 6-1 UDFA rookie out of Division III Wesley College, was claimed off waivers after being released by the Packers on Thursday.
Callahan had earned a spot on their 53-man roster after a surprisingly strong preseason. He threw for 499 yards and three touchdowns, completing 54 of 88 passes with no interceptions and a QB rating of 88.2. Solid numbers for a division III recruit in his first NFL action.
Who Dat Dish looked over his preseason tape. Here’s what we saw.
Callahan is slightly undersized, a trait Saints fans are familiar with at quarterback. But Callahan is more in the mold of Garrett Grayson than Brees, a mobile quarterback with some rough edges to work out as a pocket passer. But don’t panic Saints fans; if Grayson had the sort of preseason that Callahan did, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Comparing the two, Callahan already seems the much more solid prospect, and is still a rookie.
Callahan isn’t the fastest player, but he keeps plays alive with his feet more than Brees ever did. He’s elusive. You’ll see that immediately. He doesn’t have quite the subtle footwork that allows Brees to stay clean in the pocket so well, but he’s very agile, and a few years behind Brees could no doubt improve his pocket presence. For what it’s worth, he’s already a hard QB to bring down. He makes blitzers miss, and is more than ready to use his legs to move the chains.
If anything, he’s a bit scramble-happy. I don’t think that will be a problem down the line, as it seems Payton is looking for a QB with some mobility. But I’d like to see him develop some confidence as a pocket passer as well.
Perhaps his most intriguing quality is his ability to throw on the move. The Packers ran a number of bootlegs for him, but just as often he would escape the pocket and make an accurate throw while scrambling. That sort of ability really puts pressure on the defense.
Accuracy and decision making
While Callahan made a number of accurate and difficult throws, he also showed his fair share of bad passes. He managed to get through the preseason without any interceptions, but there were a few throws that probably should have been picked off.
That’s not to say that he made bad decisions. In fact, he almost never forced the ball into double coverage or misread a coverage scheme, as was so often the case with Grayson. His problems were with pass placement. Again, he often showed exceptional accuracy, even on the run. But he needs to show consistency in that area.
Overall, the Saints have to be pleased that they managed to snag a player like Callahan off waivers. Whether or not he remains on the team going forward, this is the sort of tryout that they need to get with Brees entering his twilight years. If they can secure the backup QB spot without spending a draft pick, it can only help this roster.