Replacing a QB, Part 5: Life after Flutie
Whatever the general expectations are for this season, Chris Crane has nothing to complain about. If he thinks he has big shoes to fill, he needs to talk to Shawn Halloran. Halloran had to follow the productivity and the school-changing legend of Doug Flutie. Over the course of his career, Halloran acquitted himself well, but his first year as a starter was rough.
What happened in 1985?
Bicknell kept the Flutie offense in place. Despite missing out on a bowl BC still played in 12 games (they were part of the Kickoff Classic), so Halloran actually threw as many passes as Flutie did in the ’84 season: 423. It’s what happened to those passes that became the story. Halloran did not come close to Flutie’s 60% completion rate, only threw for 13 TDs and had 23 INTs. The passing yards declined from 3,634 to 2,935. More worrisome, the points per game fell from 37.4 to 18.5 points a game. BC followed its best season of the modern era with a disappointing 4-8 record.
What is different for 2008?
Although there was some talent left on defense (Ruth, Romo, etc) most of the skill position heroes from 1984 were gone. Crane inherits most of Ryan’s receivers. Also, the offense will adjust to Crane’s skill set. One of Halloran’s challenges in 1985 was that the schemes were often the same as 1984 yet he didn’t have Flutie’s mobility nor accuracy. Unless he proves to be more capable than he's playing now, it is highly unlikely Crane will be in the pocket chucking it 50 times a game like Ryan. Halloran was also younger and less experienced than Crane will be heading into this season. Although bigger than Doug, Halloran was not the same sort of athlete Flutie was. Crane is actually more athletic than Matt Ryan.
What is the same for 2008?
The defense will have to carry the team. Unlike the post Foley era, the Flutie transition and the Ryan transition will happen under the same head coach and same offensive coordinator.
Things won’t be as messy as they were in 1985. The schedule sets up better, the skill positions and offensive line sets up better and the defense should be very good. Although Crane lacks game experience, he won’t be as raw as Halloran was when he first started. If we go 4-8 this year, it won’t Chris Crane’s fault. Many other things will have gone wrong.