Flipping From An Air Raid To An NFL Offense

April 7th, 2023

Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker.

Joe’s a big Hendon Hooker guy. But there are deeper questions about how the Tennessee star can transition to the NFL than just his surgically-repaired knee and his age (25).

Hooker played in an Air Raid offense at Tennessee. Historically, Air Raid quarterbacks have been garbage in the NFL.

Yes, there are exceptions. There are always exceptions. Two monster outliers, Pat Mahomes and Jalen Hurts, lit up scoreboards in college with an Air Raid and are now lighting up NFL defenses.

(Joe’s not going to include Kyler Murray in that outlier just yet.)

Could the Bucs be setting up to draft Hooker and bring him along like Andy Reid did Mahomes and the Eagles did Hurts?

Reid went old school with Mahomes and sat him for his first season in Kansas City. Hurts, then playing for current Jags coach and former NFL quarterback Doug Pederson, only started four games his rookie year playing behind Carson Wentz.

Remember how so many people called the signing of Bucs quarterback competing Baker Mayfield as a “bridge?” Well…

Returning from a knee injury, Hooker probably won’t be ready to hit a football field until late summer. Maybe. What better way to groom him than to have him sit and study and learn from a guy like Mayfield (who also played in an Air Raid offense in college)? Perhaps for the entire season.

Greg Cosell of NFL Films, one of the best quarterback X’s and O’s guys out there, broke down Hooker’s tape for The33rdTeam.com. Cosell believes Hooker has all the physical skills and mental mindset you’re looking for in a quarterback.

Bottom Line:

Hooker’s 2021 and 2022 tape showed a tall, athletic, strong-armed quarterback with the arm strength and throwing traits to effectively work the intermediate and deeper levels of the field and excellent mobility to make second reaction plays. Hooker ran a relatively pure version of the Air Raid passing game with its emphasis on no-huddle, fast tempo and wide spread formations, and pure progression reads where a quarterback is not taught to understand the subtleties and nuances of specific defenses and coverages and a high percentage of the throws are pre-determined.

Hooker played with a refined sense of rhythm and timing within the context of the Tennessee passing game, and he rarely got stuck in the pocket without a defined sense of where to go with the ball. There will be valid questions as to whether Hooker can transition effectively and quickly to a larger playbook with far more pass game concepts versus more sophisticated defenses with more detailed pressure schemes.

Hooker’s running ability will be a positive as he learns how to play NFL quarterback, and it could well be the reason he is viewed as an intriguing prospect, even though you wouldn’t say he is twitchy or explosive as a runner. But he has size and strength and some wiggle to be a factor in the open field.

Cosell’s main question about Hooker is, well, the transition from an Air Raid offense.

Joe has written several times how much he likes Hooker. Not until typing this here story did Joe remember that Mayfield also had to transition from an Air Raid offense to an NFL offense as a rookie.

The Bucs seem to have set the table, very discreetly, to bring in an Air Raid quarterback to learn slowly, with a built-in tutor.

The breadcrumbs are beginning to line up.

Great fun ahead at the brand new Big Storm taproom in the heart of Ybor City! Upstairs in Centro Ybor with public parking all around. It’s big, bold and beautiful. 

…Courtesy of Florida’s Elite Restoration, you can win $500 in our “Pick The Pick” contest, which was a huge hit at the 2021 NFL Draft party, plus another $500 in an additional contest. Hang with great Bucs fans, Ira Kaufman and Florida’s best craft beer and food.

34 Responses to “Flipping From An Air Raid To An NFL Offense”

  1. Mike S Says:

    I thought college highlights were meaningless on joebuc? We still allowed to look at those?

  2. Tye Says:


    Fortify the trenches and fill other holes…
    Behind a poor line, Hooker will be needing another knee…

  3. Buc1987 Says:

    I like him.

    Prollly means stay away.

    I was ga ga for Jameis too.

  4. Buc1987 Says:

    LT @ 19 not QB.

  5. Jeebs the Honey Bear Says:

    I like the kid, or should I say young adult at 25. But we already have a #1 pick and a 2nd round QB on the team. Chances of hitting on a QB are already low in the first round… Hooker is likely a 2nd round QB. Let’s spend our draft capital on building a better overall team, see what we’ve already got, and then reassess our need for QB next season.

  6. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Buc1987, I remember I downtalked Jameis so much before we drafted him…but really, it was a no win situation. It’s not like Marcus did any better.

    I would not be upset if we took Hooker in the second round…and I realize not many here think he will slide…but I do.

  7. SB Says:

    Zero Chance! Nothing to see here.

  8. Buc4evr Says:

    Total waste of time drafting Hooker. Another “fools gold” QB that the Bucs will never be able to develop.

  9. IrishTony Says:

    This team has no history of drafting and developing a qb. The last decent one we drafted with moderate sustained success (but average numbers) was Doug W. but those teams had very good defenses.

  10. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    Mayfield a tutor? Seriously? Jose, this infatuation with Hooker is making you see things that just aren’t there. I’ll grant you he’s an intriguing prospect and his age is a plus to me. But we have too many other needs.

    Also the transition from one system to another is overrated. It’s all about the player. Either they can do it or they can’t.

  11. Thisisouryear!! Says:

    I like Will Levis a lot more.

  12. Hodad Says:

    A 25 year old QB with a bad knee being groomed by the great Baker Mayfield, what could go wrong? If the Bucs pick a QB with there first round pick it automaticaly makes that QB the future starter. That would tell Baker, and Trask don’t bother competing, when Hooker is healthy he’s are starter. It tells the rest of the team the front office has no faith in either Baker, or Trask, so we don’t expect to win this year. The smartest thing to do is see if Baker can be come back player of the year, or find out if Trask can be an NFL starter. If not I believe there’s a draft next year where you can find a QB also. This team is more than a QB away. Build a better team, or no QB will succeed.

  13. OHBucFan Says:

    Doug Williams 6’4” 220 lbs
    Hendon Hooker 6’4 222 lbs
    None other than Joe Gibbs wrote of Doug Williams: “a big-time arm with perfect passing mechanics” and “a natural leader…very academic and extremely prepared…football smart”
    I became a fan of the Bucs for the very deep reason of their team colors being close to my beloved Vols. The relationship being forever cemented by watching an amazingly athletic/dynamic QB in Doug Williams whose scouting report by Gibbs fits Hooker to a T (yeah, I said it).
    Williams was the 17th pick. Hooker potentially the 19th. Gotta admit, I’m geeked at the possibility.

  14. Rand Says:


  15. Alanbucsfan Says:

    How does an NFL team go from SB champion to one of the worst teams in the NFL?
    Consecutive years of drafting top pick projects that may or may not work out?


  16. NYbucsfan Says:

    If Joe likes him, I am out. Joe does not have a great history of judging QB talent.

  17. AnonymousBuc76 Says:

    @NY Buc lol I’d have to agree…Love you to death Joe but you were the conductor for the Johnny Football hype train back in the day…You’ll never live that one down…

    I’d rather see us draft big bodies OL/DL/Pass-Rusher instead of drafting a 25 year old QB who still may be years away from being a competent starter…

    Besides, the competition between Trask and Mayfield should actually be very interesting…
    If Baker Mayfield can’t beat out Kyle then he’s an official bust…and vice versa If Trask can’t beat out Mayfield then he’s a bust…

  18. Buc50 Says:

    Levis is going top 10. If you don’t take Hooker at 19 or higher, he will not be there in the2nd round.

  19. bno Says:

    “Joe has written several times how much he likes Hooker.”

    You forgot Jameis Winston and Johnny Manziel 😛

  20. Dooley Says:

    Chris Ault helped Andy Reid lay the groundwork for KCs offense as a consultant when Reid was initially hired and before Pat Mahomes was drafted. Ault was a coach at UofNevada and is the the originator of the pistol offense.

    Josh Heupel played for Mike Leach, yep that Mike Leach and that’s why that offense was so explosive, because instead of being the QB-driven west coast style of offense, Leach(now Heupel) had the calling card of having his offense be driven off the legs of their WRs. Elongated route stems, minimal pre-snap adjustments, option routes that force a QB to read his progressions, and plenty of deep choice concepts. The NFL is still actively integrating more of these styles of offense into their own schemes, if they’ve got the personnel to make it work is a totally different story, but the most recent history shows QBs from those styles of offense can thrive as pro players.

  21. Brandon Says:

    Hooker’s physical traits.

    6’3 217

    Cosell calls him tall and thick. Dude is the same size as Teddy Bridgewater.

  22. Just Saying Says:

    Concern with drafting a qb early is if Bowels doesn’t work out the next coach is not going to want the previous coaches failures. So another wasted high pick. We have 2 QBs on the roster that should be able to get us through the season and tell us if they are our future or if we are getting a new coach and therefore new qb.

  23. Jeff’s grandpa Says:

    I don’t see it in the chris weinke 2.0

  24. CChead Says:

    As long as Todd Blowes has any say in the offense, it will be more of the same. A running plodding no up tempo scheme. Why waste a pick on a qb unless you are drafting for the next head coach.

  25. Tucker Says:

    I sure hope they don’t draft hooker he does seem like fools gold like someone above mentioned can’t wait until the draft is over.

  26. bno Says:

    Brandon Says: “6’3 217. Cosell calls him tall and thick.”

    Cosell is an idiot. That’s actually thin for 6’3″. More like a beanpole.

    Brett Favre was thick … 6’2″ and 225-235 lbs.

  27. Joe Says:

    Cosell is an idiot. That’s actually thin for 6’3″. More like a beanpole.

    That’s the first time Joe has read someone refer to Greg Cosell (who has a degree from Cornell and learned offense from Bill Walsh) is an “idiot.”

  28. gp Says:

    Sorry, not feelin it.
    Trenches are a higher priority, IMO.

  29. TBChucky Says:

    I’m torn on this one.. Both lines should be priority. I am intrigued by Hooker though..

  30. Goatfarmer Says:

    Many hookers have intrigued the Goatfarmer. This one is highly intriguing for different reasons than usual.

  31. Oneilbuc Says:

    I thought college don’t mean nothing at least that’s what most of yall has said about Kyle Trask? But now college stats means something when it fit your narrative !! Talk about a condition!! Lol 😂😂

  32. TampabayDJ Says:

    If Evans and Godwin can make Winston a pro bowl QB , they can make this kid a super star .. Go Bucs

  33. ItzOK Says:

    Im sure a lot of guys on this board are also fans of Hookers

  34. Rod Munch Says:

    Here’s an idea… run the offense that matches the strengths of your players.