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NFL Draft

What’s Behind Spencer Rattler’s Struggles?

  • The Draft Network
  • September 28, 2021
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Spencer Rattler entered the season as the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, but a lot has changed since then.

With the way things are currently trending, it seems likely that Rattler may not even come off the board on Day 1. He has yet to put on a standout performance this year against high-level competition and his performance in the slim win that was almost an upset loss to Tulane in the season opener was hardly anything short of disastrous.

Rattler completed 30-of-39 passes for 304 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions—a stat line that highlights some of the misfires but doesn’t seem to fully reveal just how much Rattler struggled at points in that game. Of course, there were bright spots (and his arm talent, which may be the best in this class, was on display), but there were also some egregiously bad points as well.

So, what’s happening here?

A lot of Rattler’s issues appear to be mental. This is something we’ve seen from Week 1 when he was missing some throws in the flat or foregoing wide-open targets for potentially big plays to instead throw into coverage, squandering opportunities. Watch the receiver at the top of your screen on this one:

https://twitter.com/sportingnews/status/1434187782470111240?s=20

To be fair, not every interception Rattler has thrown has been his fault. That includes this one where his receiver ran the wrong route.

https://twitter.com/TJEckertKTUL/status/1442269512418529285?s=20

There are times where it seems to be a composure issue for Rattler as well. Head coach Lincoln Riley runs his own sort of adaptation of the Air Raid offense and is down Mike Leach’s coaching tree, where one of the key phrases is “play the next play.” Rattler struggles to do just that sometimes and seems to get in his own head and dig a continuous hole for himself—though Riley seems to have the ability to calm him down and once Rattler settles in, he starts to put plays together and look the part. We’ve seen ups and down in that area several times throughout the season, seemingly a primary cause of Rattler’s highs and lows.

I know that seems basic. There are a lot of complex things that go on in football that can be evaluated and measured, but at the end of the day, the guys who suit up on Saturdays and Sundays are still very much human. Regardless of how far they’ve come or what type of pedestal they’re placed on, they can still be affected by the same simple things mentally that can throw off an entire performance, just like anyone else.

Looking more at things that can be measured, Rattler also seems to hold the ball for too long on several occasions. A quick release is one of the most important things a quarterback can have and his hesitancy to throw it in a quick manner at times—something that also falls into the mental category—is preventing him from being as efficient of a passer as we know he has the ability to be.

It will be interesting to see how Rattler performs as he and the Sooners head into the upcoming matchup against TCU after the bye week. 

Rattler seems to have all the proper tools but doesn’t maintain the type of consistency that is demanded of a quarterback who can both lead the nation in terms of draft prospects and one who can perform at the NFL level. You get the sense that he doesn’t have forever to right the ship, and this next stretch of games is going to mean a lot for his future. 

Of course, putting all the pieces together is very possible and he was considered the No. 1 guy at one point for a reason, but he and the Oklahoma offense have to be more explosive and dominant. Three passing touchdowns and three interceptions over the three outings against the “stiffest” competition the Sooners have faced in Tulane, Nebraska and West Virginia doesn’t fit the bill. Add that to the fact they’ve beat those teams by an average of five points and the point is just further driven home.

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