Jim Hart

St. Louis Cardinals


Jim Hart, who will be going into his sixth pro season, has it all in front of him. Despite a crash learning program Hart still doesn't seem to have the necessary knowledge and poise, though this should begin to show more and more in 1971.

Opportunity, which seemed to have slammed the door in his face, really opened up for him all of a sudden. Jim had signed as a free agent out of Southern Illinois University and joined the Cardinals in 1966. He did not play and appeared in for an extremely long wait on the bench; but regular Cardinal quarterback Charley Johnson was called up by his reserve unit for active duty. Thus, Hart became the Cardinals starting quarterback in 1967 and 1968. Showed fairly good poise for his age, despite some nightmarish experiences such as setting a club record by throwing 30 interceptions in one season. Hart had an even chance of beating out Johnson in 1969 but injured a finger in pre-season and fell behind.

Jim Hart has size- 6-2, 210- and a good, sound arm. But he still tries to force the ball and throws uncalled for interceptions.

A slight doubt remains about his native intelligence but most feel he just needs aging. But when Johnson was traded to Houston, the Cardinals put their immediate future in Hart's arm. Johnson definitely was smarter, a better field general, but Hart had far more talent and promise and St. Louis felt he could gain the experience.

Jim is a conventional drop-back passer who goes by the book. He is somewhat like Snead in that he likes to throw long. And he throws long well. He will go for the bomb often and thus keeps the secondary loose. He is able to throw a light ball, which receivers like to catch, and it is just difficult to find him lacking in physical capabilities.

He sets up quickly and throws on timing. Will take lumps in the pocket rather than come out and attempt to scramble. Must stay in pocket to be effective because he does throw on timing. If he had any notions of scrambling he lost them early last season when he came out of the pocket and got knocked cold. He does not dump the ball well when his receivers are covered and sometimes tries to force throws, causing interceptions. Excellent with intermediate passes, 30-35 yards, and throws well against man-to-man or zone. He throws the sideline route as well as anybody.

A good, consistent rush upsets him. Under pressure he will often get wild and confused. Has good receivers, about the equal of anybody's in Jackie Smith, Dave Williams and John Gilliam, and he uses them all well.

St. Louis runs all types of draws and Hart mixes them up well with his passing game, keeping the defense guessing and somewhat off balance.

Hart should now become more consistent. He won't be a Unitas, a Jurgensen or a Namath, but has the potential of leading St. Louis to the Eastern Division title and should become a good, sound quarterback for many years.