Converting running QBs into running backs

Over the past few decades there have been some QB's that are tanks when running but only have a "reasonable" ability to pass. Two that come to mind right away are/were Nealon Greene and Chris Streveler. Would it add any dynamics to an offence to convert players like this to true running backs? They would have the ability to pick up lots of yards on the ground but would not allow the defence to key on the run as players like this could still pass successfully a portion of the time. Having the defense on their heals could open up big plays both ways. I have often thought about this ever since the Riders replaced Nealon back in the early 2000's. Other players have been converted from QB to other positions upon leaving University and getting to the pro's Kerry Joseph - Safety with Seattle and Sinopoli to receiver in the CFL.


No. A QB who takes the snap has the run option, hand off option or pass, the defense doesn't know what he's going to do, they have to be ready for anything. Make him a running back and he can only run or receive, as soon as the QB gives him the ball the defense can key on him.
Never heard of a QB converted to RB.
Kerry Joseph was a good safety but not good enough to be an NFL QB, he was given the chance in the CFL.
Sinopoli was not good enough to be a QB but he surprised everyone as a receiver. He is probably the greatest Canadian born CFL receiver ever.

I beg to differ : Sinopoli was the backup Qb just before the arrival of Bo Levi Mitchell to Calgary. That does not show he was not good enough: it only show that he was not better than BLM, like every other QB in the league.


The RPO is a simplistic offense. Not a fan of it. Teams that run those plays tend to be not talented in the other skill positions like wide receivers, tightends, pass blocking. The QB tends to be less skilled passing. The RPO tends to produce fumbles when there is a miscommunication between the RB and QB. I prefer the mobile QB to roll out and use play action. You might as well run a wishbone offense if you are using the RPO

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Sinopoli is good but for my money Tony Gabriel is the best Canadian receiver I’ve seen play. Sinopoli has had the benefit of being with some deep receiving corps over the years in Calgary and Ottawa and was really a good third option after other guys drew added coverage. Just my opinion but when he was the main guy in Ottawa last year he wasn’t nearly as effective.

Ben Cahoon was essentially an American but played as a non-import due to a loophole. Otherwise you could make a case for him also.


I agree with you with one caveat. Not every quarterback can be or is John Elway or Brett Favre to do well on all those rollouts, EITHER side of the field, and so here we are.

This is a bit lengthy as I have had to wrap my head around this run-pass option offence that was inspired from old football offences by the generally awful Miami Dolphins over a decade ago when later in the season, as a desperation move, they trotted it out in a game on the road against the mighty New England Patriots so as to steam-roll them altogether. The league was stunned and in awe to see even the great Bill Belichick out-manoeuvred and out-coached like that such that the copy-cats gathered to implement such plays themselves and here we are now.

After seeing the run-pass option offence in action over the years (as derived from the old-time single wing that was well before my time), the jury was out for me with the RPO and here's where I am on that now. Maybe somebody on the Council of Geezers remembers the single wing or double wing offences? In NCAA circles, Georgia Tech and the US Navy ran the double wing aka triple option for years and the US Navy still does so.

Let's make note in the NFL, and I did not follow how the CFL rules went at the time when said offence was and has been incorporated into a few of the plays I remember such as especially in goal line situations, they made a rule change for 2013 such that a QB in the backfield still holding the ball would be treated as a runner, not a passer, for sake of any penalties when in proximity to another player in the backfield and faking the hand-off yet then going to throw the ball. I'm not sure on the exact wording, but the rule change was such that the defence immediately could go clobber the quarterback just as a runner once any motion forward was made in such a backfield in such an offence as opposed to the same protection afforded on a mere play-fake and drop-back or roll-out to pass.

The effect was that defences didn't have to hesitate any more to see if the quarterback made the hand-off or not. He lost the extra bit of protection he had as a presumed passer. Clobber everybody now was the new and old way to go about it such that if the quarterback indeed did hand off the ball there would be no penalty if he was clobbered after the fact in the run of play (i.e. of course one still cannot simply charge down the quarterback indiscriminately well after the play if the quarterback is clearly out of the play including like we see on an interception whenever the quarterback is only a spectator with a great seat).

As Warren Sapp quipped on local radio when I was in Tampa Bay when nobody else wanted to point it out, it was this rule change, to the howling of then Jim Harbaugh the coach of the 49ers, that killed the RPO as a primary offence in the NFL because no offensive coordinator who wanted to keep his job was going to call those plays and get his quarterback clobbered any more as happened to Robert Griffin III and to Colin Kaepernick anyway.

But with future QBs the offence was retained for sake of situational offence and gadget plays, and it has worked with only certain players and many teams use a more mobile backup QB (i.e. this year's and now bygone Eagles and these Saints with Brees likely to hang it up) to run such plays and not always only in short yardage situations.

When you get to Lamar Jackson and his extreme talent or to Josh Rosen, DeShaun Watson, or Taysom Hill (not sure if he will ever be a starting QB), it's a core part of the offence too.

I do not see the RPO advancing much further in use now due to the increased risk of injury to most players trying to run it as well as a a very limited number of players with the skills who can run it well. The latter however are also spotted amongst quarterbacks at draft time especially when said player has the versatility to run and catch well beyond throwing the ball at the NFL 3rd quarterback level or better. Such ability can separate such a player from others who are quarterbacks, but not high-round merit, in the middle draft rounds or amongst free agents.

Many NFL offensive coordinators are willing to take on and try to develop these quarterbacks given their inherent versatility and uncommon skills along with at least fundamentally sound passing for the professional game.

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RBs are a dime a dozen. QBs who can take regular snaps, even backups, are not. Unless a team is stacked with decent QBs, you're not going to convert a QB to a RB.

In 2005, I was thinking how cool it would have been to have Dave Dickenson lined up as QB and Casey Printers lined up as an RB. I think there's some rule, or maybe a gentlemen's rule, of not being allowed two QBs on the field at one time.

BTW, any fans out there remember Ken Hobart and Mike Kerrigan?


I’d agree with Sinologist but I would sure put Ben Cahoon right up there with him. He had glue on his hands!
I’d also agree that converting them into RB would be just a bit of semantics. The best CFL QB’s have to be great runners. Maybe a few exceptions like Ricky Ray. Even Damon Allen was elusive and slippery in his prime.

You can't gave two QBs on the field during the same play in the CFL. But you can in the NFL.

What if you list and start him as RB? Like Sinopoli at WR? Of course, not too many QBs are very effective blockers either.

That won't fly with the refs when lineup cards are handed in before the coin toss. They know who plays what


I do appreciate everyone's opinion and It likely would not work for many of the reasons stated. However, I think most people have misunderstood thinking that I meant to keep the player as a QB but use him as a RB. When I had said to convert the QB, I meant that taking a player who had been a QB and changing his role on the team to a permanent full time RB and listing him that way on the roster and using him as a running back, albeit as a running back who would have better throwing skills than the average RB. There would be no infractions for 2 QB's on the field ever.