Here are some select quotes from Ron Jaworksi’s appearance on ESPN 710’s ‘the Brock and Salk’ show this week…
“I’m more the old school prototypical guy, plays the game from the pocket. Big strong quarterback that does a good job with reading progressions, throws with accuracy and velocity. I’ll probably give a little bit of a nod to Nick Foles (over Russell Wilson).”
He goes on to add…
“If I see this new wave of quarterbacks having success, let it be the Cam Newton’s, a Russell Wilson, maybe a Johnny Manziel this year… who really knows. But if I see this game now moving towards more option quarterbacks, zone read quarterbacks, making plays by extending plays outside the pocket — you know I might say, ‘OK, Chip Kelly’s offense… this works. These types of unique schemes, they work. This style of unique quarterback, you can win a Championship with.’ If it plays out that way, I will certainly change my opinion.”
“I’ve been around this league for 40 years. I came in as a rookie in 1973. I actually played against Johnny Unitas and George Blanda… that’s some experience guys you know. Through my years of experience, this game’s about winning a Championship. It’s not about padding numbers and putting up stats. It’s about winning Championships. And I always thought the best way through the years was to have that prototypical NFL quarterback”
Why have I highlighted these three quotes? I’m glad you asked.
Just under a year ago, Jaworski said: “I truly believe Colin Kaepernick could be one of the greatest quarterbacks ever.” The story went viral, perhaps intentionally. It was somewhat of a surprise given Jaworski’s 2013 QB rankings only had Kaepernick at #11 below the likes of Matt Schaub.
If Jaworski is such a proponent of the “old school prototypical guy”, why such extreme praise for Kaepernick — one of the trailblazing new mobile-style quarterbacks he appears so hesitant to acknowledge?
Presumably he would also choose Nick Foles over the man he touted to be one of the best ever? Because while Kaepernick is big and strong and does throw with velocity — progressions and staying in the pocket aren’t exactly his forté. Is there much difference physically between Cam Newton and Kaepernick?
Jaws went on to say he’d be willing to change his stance on what he calls “unique” quarterbacks if Newton and Russell Wilson succeeded in the future. He’d also change his mind if Chip Kelly’s schemes work or if one of these ‘new-wave’ QB’s win a Championship.
1. Cam Newton and Russell Wilson are awesome football players.
2. Chip Kelly’s schemes clearly work.
3. Russell Wilson won a Championship… this year.
What further evidence does he need?
The final quote references conventional wisdom within the NFL, putting such thinking on a pedestal as the unchallenged truth. The following sentence..
“Through my years of experience, this game’s about winning a Championship. It’s not about padding numbers and putting up stats. It’s about winning Championships.”
…is perhaps the most confusing of the lot. The simple fact is Wilson won a Super Bowl. Newton was only beaten to the NFC Championship by Kaepernick’s 49ers.
The stat-padding, conventional quarterback in all of this has to be Peyton Manning. He didn’t win a Championship and yet put up record breaking numbers.
The top ten passers in terms of yardage last season included Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, Carson Palmer, Ben Roethlisberger and Ryan Tannehill. None made the playoffs. Cam Newton (15th), Russell Wilson (16th) and Colin Kaepernick (20th) were in the middle of the pack.
Nobody would ever accuse Wilson (or Newton/Kaepernick) of stat-padding. He’s not a 400-yard maestro or fantasy football dynamo. Yes, Seattle’s defense stole the show in the Super Bowl. Yet Wilson’s display shouldn’t be undermined — 72% completion rate, two touchdowns. This is what the Seahawks want. It’s probably what the Panthers and 49ers want too.
Playmaking inspiration and leadership, but not total dependence.
Wilson made the plays he needed to make. It was a classic performance. A performance that will never get the credit it deserves because he didn’t carry the team single-handed to glory with 50 passing attempts.
Seattle’s QB is the very definition of ‘stats don’t matter, Championships do’. If experience has led Jaws to that conclusion as he says, it might be time to put Wilson ahead of Nick Foles on the ranking list.
You may argue it’s unfair to single out Jaworski. Is it my position to criticise? Perhaps not. If you handed him a game tape and asked him to explain why something happened, he’d be in his element. He’s a brilliant football mind when it comes to breaking down a specific play or set of events. I thoroughly enjoy hearing his views, even if I disagree occasionally on matters like this.
Unfortunately he’s committed to conventional wisdom. He admits that. It too easily defines his opinion when scouting college players. It gets in the way. Breaking down X’s and O’s is one thing. Player assessment and team building is totally different.
He is married to the idea that what has worked in the past (in terms of size and skill set) will continue to work forever. He isn’t alone — and that’s the point I’m trying to make in this piece.
There are many people employed within the NFL who feel exactly the same way.
“You can only win in this league doing things the way they’ve always been done.”
It’s why people like Jaws, Greg Cosell and Merril Hoge get so much air time before the draft. Their views are respected and celebrated almost because they are so conventional. They refuse to budge — and it sounds great on air when they give someone like Johnny Manziel a fourth round grade because he isn’t 6-5 and 240lbs.
They’ll never change their minds and neither will many NFL employees.
Yet staring them in the face is the one team who constantly opposes conventional wisdom — almost goes out of its way to avoid it. They also happen to be the reigning Super Bowl Champions.
The NFL adapts all the time. Most sports do. There’s nothing wrong with maintaining core philosophies (Seattle focuses on the run game and good defense — classic traits). Aspects still change. Football’s fairly unrecognisable compared to 1973 when Jaws turned pro. Heck, it’s changed a fair bit between Seattle’s two visits to the Super Bowl in an eight year span.
The Seahawks have shown the benefits of keeping an open mind when it comes to player assessment. They’re leading the way and still there are those who refuse to follow. I have no doubt that includes people working in high profile positions within the NFL.
If I’m right, that’s really, really good news for Pete Carroll and co.