Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden was, in part, the focus during Dan Pompei's weekly NFL Sunday Blitz with the National Football Post. Most of the piece discussed the possibilities of success with rookie quarterbacks, reflecting on last year's class -- specifically Cam Newton with the Carolina Panthers and Andy Dalton with, well, you know who.
"Carolina and [the Bengals] proved last year a guy can come right in and play, especially if you draft a guy like Andrew Luck who is a very bright guy and can handle a lot of the mental things a defense will throw at him, and he is a very accurate quarterback," said Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, who gets the credit for Dalton’s development. "Luck will be able to handle it. He’ll be fine. He ran Jim Harbaugh’s offense for three years at Stanford and they are very sophisticated. He’s already mentally ahead of the game when he gets to camp."
Gruden continues by discussing the merits of playing a rookie over a veteran quarterback, with the idea of growth behind the philosophy.
"Ideally if you had an older veteran in place who is a good quarterback and you could let your guy develop and watch him, fine. But if your best player is a rookie, you better get him ready. I’d rather play with a rookie quarterback and let him take a few bumps than play with a veteran guy and lose. You don’t learn a lot from sitting to be honest with you in my opinion"
Cincinnati has experienced both situations in the past ten years. After selecting quarterback Carson Palmer first overall during the 2003 NFL draft, Jon Kitna started the entire season as a mentor. One year later Palmer was promoted as the team's starter. And then last year Gruden didn't bother with the facade of starting a veteran over a rookie, allowing Dalton the opportunity to take his bumps as a rookie, despite the fact the NFL had a lockout which limited any interaction between player and coach.
In a very real sense, setting aside personal feelings regarding one of those quarterbacks, both philosophies worked well as both played in the Pro Bowl and reached the postseason during their respective eras.