Andy Dalton was terrible in 2007.
Trevone Boykin threw four picks against Iowa State in his first start - at home.
Kenny Hill completed 61% of his passes in his first go-round as the TCU starter.
All three of these players ended their careers as winners, and are the three most successful QBs of the modern era at TCU. They had double digit win seasons, bowl wins, and brought - or kept - the Horned Frogs in national prominence.
But, were you to have judged them five games or five months into their first seasons in Fort Worth, you would never have believed what they would accomplish.
And that’s why we need to slow down a bit when it comes to evaluating Shawn Robinson, and certainly, when it comes to writing him off.
At the end of the day, there is not a more popular person on a football team than the backup QB. We wanted Marcus Jackson to replace Andy Dalton in 2007, because the-then redshirt freshman Red Rifle threw more INTs (11) than TDs (10) and lost five games before closing with three straight wins.
We all thought Casey Pachall was the second coming, and bemoaned this “converted running back” who seemed to throw it to the other team when he actually threw it, but clearly could only run away from the pocket.
And Kenny Hill? Well, there was a reason Texas A&M didn’t want him.
Those three quarterbacks combined for 91 wins in their careers. They also lost 18 total games in their first years as the starting QB.
Two of the most successful quarterbacks in TCU history were TERRIBLE in their first year as the full time starter, and one of the most complained about led the Frogs to 11 wins and a berth in the conference championship game.
Give it time folks. Less is more. Just listen to Coach P. “Nobody is panicking. Nobody is going anywhere. [We’re] going about our business. We’re going to grow people up. We’re going to get ready to go. That’s the way we’ve done things here.”
When teams rush to judgement or rush to move on from players, bad things happen.
“The bottom line to it – you make really bad decisions if you panic.”
Patterson, who has been known to throw around an allegory or two, has a good one for his passers, relating how he handles his QBs much the way one handles a significant other. Well, maybe how one shouldn’t handle a significant other.
“You can’t treat quarterbacks like girlfriends. You can’t. You just try to manage all that stuff. Less is better when you’re having conversations. It works for me at home – less is better. If you want to stay out of hot water, less is better. Just say, ‘Yes, dear.’”
If you know Mrs. Coach P at all, you can imagine that playing out.
Less is more doesn’t just work when it comes to the playbook, the meeting room, or the expectations - it works on the field, too. Shawn Robinson’s five interceptions have all come in the second half - and all five when the Frogs have a lead (though two of those leads were perilous). For a guy who has been able to control the game most of his career, playing in a tight spot is still an adjustment. And for a player who has been able to physically dominate his opponents, learning how to pull the reigns back a bit takes time, too.
“Younger players are, well, I didn’t make enough great plays the first half. Well, no, against really good teams you’re not going to have that many great plays. You’re going to have good plays. You’re going to have good plays that you earn and what the defense or offense gives you.”
Back in 2007, a young Andy Dalton was told he was one more pick away from being benched. He threw that interception against BYU, but something in Coach Patterson’s gut told him to give his QB one more chance. Dalton led the Frogs to the precipice of a win that day, didn’t lose again that season, and lost only three times total across the next three years.
Fast forward a couple years, and Trevone Boykin was splitting time as the starting quarterback, a wide receiver, and a running back prior to taking the reigns and leading the Frogs to a 22-2 record over his final two seasons.
Kenny Hill, who had been mercurial at best in College Station, bounced back from a 6-7 year in 2016 to go 11-3 as a senior.
Five starts into his career, Robinson is 3-2, with wins in Lubbock and at SMU in a tsunami. He has played just one game on his home field. He has also faced a top five opponent and played in a hostile environment - one that feels an awful like the 100,000 person version of what happens on Saturdays in Funky Town. He hasn’t been perfect, but it’s not like his road has been without challenges either.
Robinson does a lot of things well - keep plays alive, run the football, have an arm that can make all the throws - but he has his weaknesses, too - namely ball security and making quick, correct decisions. But, what young quarterback, five starts into his career, doesn’t?
Maybe the rise of wunderkinds like Jake Fromm, Tua Tagovailoa, and Trevor Lawrence have set the bar unreachably high, but it’s not like Robinson arrived at TCU a finished product as a passer. With a completion percentage hovering around 60, it was obvious there was going to need to be some development, stuff that happens most when you are practicing as QB1.
That’s a thousand words on why, but the key of the matter is this...
Greatness takes time. Shawn Robinson hasn’t had much. Let’s see what happens Saturday, and the next Thursday, and on into the season. And once he has a full season worth of starts under his belt, we can look back before we look ahead.