February 09, 2009
I've said here before that, although I accept that Tim Tebow won't be a top quarterback prospect in the NFL, I don't understand it (especially the ludicrous comparisons to Eric Crouch, with whom the Tebow Child has virtually nothing in common outside of that one trophy or whatever it is they both won). Tebow has the size, the temperment and the track record; he's excelled in every possible facet of the game, including (especially) as a passer.
Apparently Jon Gruden, currently holed up with a hectare of game film in a Tampa office park, is also high on Tebow, albeit in a somewhat surprising context:
Q: The spread is being run in high schools and colleges, is it possible it could be a base offense in the NFL one day?
A: "No question. The hard part is, you have to isolate the option. That's why Tim Tebow is so interesting to me. He's like Brandon Jacobs playing quarterback. He's 250 pounds. He's the strongest human being who's ever played the position. Ever. ... Tebow is the kind of guy who could revolutionize the game. He's the 'wildcat' who can throw. Most of the teams that have the wildcat back there, it's Ronnie Brown, it's Jerious Norwood, it's whoever you want to say it is. This guy here is 250 pounds of concrete cyanide, man. And he can throw. He throws well enough at any level to play quarterback."
I'm glad to be in the corner on this matter with a longtime pro quarterback guru with a Super Bowl championship to his credit, although my instincts (as usual) align with Swindle's: Gruden expresses surprising enthusiasm in this interview for learning "the spread" -- specifically, the spread option, as opposed to the multiple receiver formations every team in the NFL has run for at least a decade; in addition to the usual Tebow love, he also wants to study Chip Kelly's "cool" offense at Oregon -- but the odds of a pro lifer like Gruden actually risking a quarterback as the philosophies at Florida and Oregon require if/when he returns to an NFL sideline are about as good as the odds of him taking the Notre Dame job in the near future. And even if he did take the Notre Dame job, or any other college gig, Gruden's influences remain somewhat, shall we say, limited:
"I want to go to Al Groh's camp in Virginia. I love the way Al Groh coaches that football team."
That would be the team with two losing seasons in the last three years, coming off a 5-7 effort in which it finished dead last in the ACC -- the ACC! -- in total and scoring offense and lost by four touchdowns to Duke. Virginia's offense is the most uncool offense imaginable.
It's also, tellingly, one of the most self-consciously "pro style" in college, which might explain some of the attraction in this case (ignorance might also explain it, but sleep deprived or not, Gruden deserves more credit than that). It also leads me to think that when he says there's "no question" a college-style spread will eventually find its way to the NFL, there's probably some question. If it does, it will be by a revolutionary on a mission -- Urban Meyer, Chip Kelly, Rich Rodriguez -- and not one of the natives. Gruden's veering close enough to heresy as it is.