Roman Gabriel, 6-4, 220, is the epitome of the new breed of quarterback.
In looking for a physical weakness, you might say he really doesn't
throw all that well with a defensive tackle hanging on his right arm.
Last season was his ninth in professional football and the past two
seasons he established himself among the top five quarterbacks in the
game. He is big, tough, strong, durable and a fine leader who is
"He's the first player on the field in practice," a report says, "and
the last to leave."
Gabe is actually a Filipino- the World's Biggest Filipino- but the
scouting report tags him as "The Big Bad Indian." George Allen didn't
make Gabriel; but when he came to the Rams in 1966 he said Roman was his
quarterback and stuck with him, instead of Billy Munson. This gave
Gabriel the confidence he lacked. At first he had some trouble reading
defenses and his teammates seemed to lack confidence in him.
But by the end of 1967, when the Rams shaded out Baltimore and Johnny
Unitas as the Coastal Division representatives in the playoffs, Gabriel
had the confidence of everybody.
Roman has played well in some big games but hasn't really mastered the
big game. There was some evidence to this during the regular season
against Minnesota and in the 1969 playoff game with
When he got out of college there was some question about his gray matter
but he has proved to have good football savvy.
Gabriel will set up closer to the line-of-scrimmage than most
quarterbacks when he throws. This is due to his height and ability to
see over defensive linemen. He has a great deal of success scram¬bling,
yet this isn't due to his speed and agility but his size and strength.
"Roman doesn't bother to really scramble," one report said. "He just
stands there and keeps his balance. Hit him low and he looks like he's
just standing there, defying the tackier to bring him down while he's
trying to locate a receiver."
So Gabriel is extremely hard to trap and will rate near the top each
season in fewest times trapped attempting to pass. This is not only
because of the difficulty in bringing him down but also due to the fact
he will ground the ball, gambling on the infraction not being called,
rather than take a loss. He's gotten away with "grounding the ball" more
than any quarterback in the NFL.
As a passer, Gabe has one of the strongest arms in all of football. He
is very accurate on long passes and seems to have eased up on his short
throws. There is some question about his ability to feather the ball in
there when necessary.
Gabriel has a fine control of the entire field and does a good job
picking up alternate receivers. He likes to come back and hit one of his
running backs coming out of the backfield. He can throw off balance or
flick the ball 50 yards and throws few interceptions because of his
accuracy and his ability to dump the ball when his receivers are
covered. He will drop back and also throw on roll-outs and bootlegs. And
he sometimes just keeps the ball when he sees an opening and runs,
especially near the goalline. Not an agile runner, Gabe just takes off
and ducks his head like a fullback when challenged.
Once a shy, moody person during his unhappy days "Before Allen", he is
now popular and outgoing. "The offense plays for him," testified an
opposition player. "He gives them a tremendous espirit 'd corps."
Good pressure from the front four is required to stop him. Allen DOES
use a very conservative offense and so Gabe is somewhat predictable. But
whether you know what he's going to do or not, it is extremely hard to
stop The Big Bad Indian.
However, in closing, the report says "Going into the big game for all
the marbles he isn't one of the top two or three I'd pick."