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Jon Gruden: System as Important as the QB

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On the mothership Hobson has posted story about former NFL coach Jon Gruden and his views on the quarterback position. The article's somewhat hard to follow because of the inconsistent stress it and Gruden place on the value of a franchise quarterback, but seeing that Jon is Bengals new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's big bro (and surely has his ear) I guess it's worth listening to what the man has to say. There are two particular points of interest here. The first is Gruden's belief that the Bengals need to press the issue with Carson Palmer.

"From what I understand, they're checking phone calls and e-mails and probably doing fingerprints," Gruden said. "Believe me, it's not a waste of time talking to Carson Palmer once they can. I know he's a good player by watching him on tape and from what I know he's a high character guy. I would certainly keep talking to him. You'd love to have a Carson Palmer. I would think that would be a priority."

It's not clear to me who the Bengals would be fingerprinting and for what purpose, but Gruden's point is salient: there's no QB in the upcoming draft with the skills of a Carson Palmer, so the team should be making every effort to win him back, and maybe they are. The second important Gruden remark is that the Bengals are very close to being a good team, and if they can't get a top-flight QB then they'll have to do what Gruden himself did in Oakland and Tampa Bay, make the most of whoever they do have by building a system that will "accentuate his strength."

"Do you look back at a season and say, 'Gee, I wonder what we could have done with that guy?' '' Gruden asked. "Sure, but in the end, you have to do what your guy does best."

That's a fairly obvious statement though and I'm not sure it gives us any insight into what brother Jay and the team are planning, despite the fact that Hobson chose Blaine Gabbert as the lead image for the story.


Gruden's QB comments relate to his current ESPN segments in which he analyzes the top passing prospect in the draft, which some find odd because of Gruden's history of relying on older, veteran QBs.

"They said I was in love with veteran quarterbacks and didn't like using kids, but I had some of those guys, too," said Gruden, who went 11-5 in Chris Simms' first season as a starter in Tampa. "I'm a big believer that you're going to have a hard time winning games without a blue-chip quarterback. If you want to be in a situation like the Colts and Patriots where you're always in contention, you have to have one."

Ok, so it's necessary to have a "blue-chip quarterback" for continued success? Odd claim coming from Gruden, who, despite pursuing stars like Brett Favre and Drew Brees, was saddled with dinosaurs like Rich Gannon, Brad Johnson, and Jeff Garcia. I suppose that's why Gruden goes on to say that "the coach and the scheme must play as large a role as talent."

"The big things about coaching quarterbacks are that your goal should be that you want to get more out of your quarterback than anybody else," Gruden said. "The system has to accentuate his strength and it might not be the same strength as Peyton Manning's. It might be high-percentage passes, who knows what it might be, and a lot of it depends on how your team plays. ... There are some Sunday mornings you show up at the stadium and you don't know how you're going to get a first down, never mind a touchdown. Then there are some days it's like, 'I know we can score, I just hope we don't turn it over.' The most overrated stat in football is total yards. I've seen more yards that are garbage than what's in my living room."

I guess so, since Gruden was able to not only win with Gannon, Johnson, and Garcia, but turn them into Pro Bowl quarterbacks.

Gruden goes on to warn that it's difficult to project a college QB at the NFL level, especially those with little starting experience like Newton, but he does offer assessments of the top prospects:

Cam Newton
Likes his domination of the SEC, scoring 51 combined TDs last season, despite his inexperience.
Jake Locker
Although Locker's accuracy might be off at times, "[h]e might be the toughest one [...] he's a smart guy, a good guy, a guy that went back and got his degree. He's been through a lot. He was on an 0-12 team for goodness sakes and he had two different head coaches. He looks like a good leader to me."
Blaine Gabbert
Though he says that "by the time the bubble screens and swing passes are taken away from the Missouri offense, there's not a lot of Gabbert passes to evaluate" he does still likes him as a winning QB.
Andy Dalton
Likes the way Dalton "flings it." Scouts question Dalton's arm strength, but for Guden "[i]t probably means they don't think he has a rifle. But you've got to throw the ball to the sidelines in the NFL and he can do that. He can make all the throws."
Ryan Mallett Excited that Mallett worked in former NFL head coach Bobby Petrino's system. And while "[h]e's got some (on-field) decision-making issues [...] you certainly like the way he throws the ball."


So I guess the point is that these guy have some flaws, so if the Bengals can't get Palmer back (and Palmer's flaws?) then Jay Gruden will need to tailor the offensive system around one of them, or whoever they pick up off the scrap heap. Fortunately, Jon is around to show brother Jay how it's done.