Can Mike Shanahan teach Rex Grossman how to throw the ball away and not force it? Can Grossman be taught to protect the ball when being hit and not fumble?
Logic says yes, if there is enough repetition, Grossman could indeed grow more awareness and stop fumbling when he’s hit. He could learn to stop forcing passes that end up being picked off by the defense.
We all have learned and developed natural mechanisms that shape who we are, and the environment we grow up in plays a major part in how we react to a situation. But while a person can be taught many things, I don't think instinct is one of them.
If I grew up in a place that had wild grizzly bears roaming around, it would call for me to be educated about what to do if I had an encounter.
My parents and school teachers would teach me the proper protocol, which I'm sure would be to stay calm and look the bear right in its eyes and say “shoo” repeatedly until the bear leaves. I saw it on the Discovery Channel.
Anyway, my point is that I may practice this over and over again and be well versed and aware of how to handle the encounter, but the true test is whether I can stop my natural instincts — to run and try to live — from taking over when it really happens.
This is why I think Grossman will always throw interceptions and fumble when hit. It's because he has shown that he is incapable of defying his natural instincts.
His education is to go through his reads. If something is clearly there, take it; if not, throw it away. I'm sure in practice he knows there will be no contact, which allows him to focus on what he is trained to do. But in a game, when players can now hit him, Grossman has proven for years that his instincts kick in and get the best of him.
If he feels pressure, it will force him to lose focus of the coverage, causing tunnel vision on a receiver. He will throw the ball to get rid of it or he will think that the play is there when in actuality it isn't.
The same goes for fumbling; he is taught to pull the ball down and cover it up or throw it away before contact is made. Instinctively, he does throw the ball away, but if he still has the ball, he fumbles because his instincts tell him to protect himself at all costs. Survival takes precedence over everything else, including protecting the ball.
So yes, Grossman can stop throwing interceptions and fumbling, but I think at this point in his career it is highly unlikely. His instincts are what he seems to trust more than anything else.
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