Jaworski-style conventional wisdom will keep Seahawks on top

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.”

And then…

“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.


  1. Cameron

    Ron Jaworski has a difficult time being consistent. If you go and find his latest QB rankings, you will actually find Wilson ranked ahead of Foles. Not long after that he went on a Philadelphia radio station and proclaimed he’d take Foles over Wilson and added “it’s not even close”.

    Now he goes on a Seattle station and says “I’ll probably give a little bit of a nod to Foles” Talk about a walk back. I have a hard time respecting an analyst who’d rather be liked than be consistent.

  2. Alex

    It gets even worse when you use the “winning championships” metric. Kaepernick has been close twice, Newton made it further than Foles did as well. Flawed metric I think, but it actually undermines his argument even further if you put it on a pedestal.

  3. williambryan

    I can’t get the audio to play on my phone for some reason, but maybe someone can help me… How did Brock react to these statements?! Did he not challenge him at all? As Rob pointed out, each statement is easily contradicted by — ahem — facts.

    • Rob Staton

      Try this link for your phone: http://mynorthwest.com/category/pod_player_sports/?a=9975732&p=1007&n=Brock%20and%20Salk

    • Ray_Maines

      I’m going to change the subject a little, okay – a lot, but Brock annoys me on this issue. Before he talked to Jaws he said on air that he’s “not good with conflict.” And he’s right, he isn’t confrontational the way Salk is. Most of us aren’t and that’s okay with me too. But…

      Brock is a self admitted instigator. He loves conflict, just so long as he’s not directly involved. That’s cowardly behaviour if you ask me and I can’t respect that. He’s forgotten more than I’ll ever know about football, but he displays cowardly behaviour on issues like this.

  4. Colin

    Jaworski, Casserly, Gil Brandt- all highly respected voices and bring years of experience to the table.

    All guys who the game is slipping by. They believe what they’ve been taught to be true and they aren’t going to change now. They’ll never accept that Kap, Wilson, Newton and RGIII can be as good as Foles and Luck and the other statue-esque QB’s.

    They are blinded by conventional wisdom.

  5. Mark

    Yeah, classic ‘click-bait’ journalism. I don’t believe for an instant than anyone, well… most people, actually working for a NFL team has held on to these views.

    I actually heard on radio today about how successful ‘multi-dimensional’ quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are. (I think it was NFL Radio on XM, so no streaming.)

  6. CC

    Thanks for this article Rob – but I cannot listen to him – it’s all an act and he doesn’t believe what he says. It isn’t just because he minimizes Russell and the Seahawks. But rather, this guy picks guys who hadn’t played a full season and anointed them as the best QBs ever. But that is what he does – he makes some grandiose statements, people react and people respond.

  7. Mylegacy

    Rob, I’m an old fashioned guy myself – I want a “classic pocket QB” who looks like Newton or Luck, releases the ball as quickly as Peyton with Kaep’s arm strength and who thinks, reacts, runs and understands his situation instantly like Wilson does.

    Since I don’t know that guy – I’ll take my chances with the diminutive Mr. Wilson.

  8. Brandon

    I don’t get why Wilson keeps getting short changed. What damn metric do you need? Playoff wins in his first two years, a Super Bowl. Okay, okay, it’s the stats. A QB rating over a hundred, which, if he retired today, would place him second all time, behind only Marino in TD’s thrown in his first two years, most wins by QB in his first two years, his YPA, a efficiency stat is there was one is also excellent.

    My only little silly addition to this – I was debating with my buddy over this same argument, and I did a quick calculation where if Wilson were to put up the touchdown’s thrown that he has averaged his first two years, and let’s say, played another 11 seasons (The New Age QB’s seem to be able to play this long), then he’d be fourth all time as of today. My point? Other than yardage, a stat healthily based upon the suckiness of your team and its need to throw and catch up, where is he lacking?

    • Alex

      Wilson gets short-changed because he’s short, and that hasn’t changed.

  9. RadMan

    People in this line of thinking will never be swayed by stats or objective analysis to the contrary. There is abundant evidence supporting the case that Wilson is a quality pocket passer AND and elite scrambler. This information is readily available to anyone who wants to acquire it and make an educated, informed, and objective analysis. Instead, people look at sub 6′, scrambler… And arrive at a conclusion and work back from there, ignoring disconfirming evidence. They’re left making arguments that are bereft of evidence, contradictory, or pathetic appeals to authority ( ” I’ve been doing this a long time and this is what I know !”). Sometimes you get a clown like Jaws to do all in one sitting. Nice hat trick, dude.

  10. Miles

    If a team that employs unique philosophy wins a championship once, the league must take notice. If a team that employs unique philosophy wins a championship twice, the league must change.

    The Seahawks have a chance to completely change football this year. Seriously. Like, Moneyball-style change it.

  11. Steve Nelsen

    John Clayton made an interesting comment today about the copycat league and Russell Wilson. The lesson some teams are copying from Seattle’s success is that you need a low-cost QB to build a championship roster. They are completely missing the point that Russell Wilson was not just low-cost but really really talented. We are so fortunate to have our front office.

    • Robert

      HaHaHa That is a formula for disaster. They will wind up with a cheap and cruddy QB and then blow the $ on other bad decisions. RW makes the plays that win games. And the one time we had to rely on him to throw the ball all over the yard, he took over the game and destroyed Atlanta’s defense.

    • cha

      I’m still in awe of this front office bucking conventional wisdom in 2012 and starting RW over the veterans, particularly the free agent signing. Drafting him was something more than a couple teams had in mind – but starting him week 1? Forget about it. I’ve always felt the national analysts were quick to express disbelief over that but slow to acknowledge it was the best decision in the aftermath.

      There’s lots of teams with a somewhat similar question right now (although I admit it isn’t apples to apples, there aren’t many RWs out there) but there are some similarities to the early Seahawks model – some good young talent but still have some roster holes to fill:

      Minnesota – Cassel/Bridgewater
      Tampa Bay – McCown/Glennon
      Jacksonville – Henne/Bortles

      • Miles

        To be honest I think this Tarvaris Jackson/Terrelle Pryor duel has a chance to be like the Flynn/RW situation. Jackson is the type of quarterback that plays smart and conservative on some level and Terrelle Pryor is the “playmaker.” If the past is anything to go off of, TP might be more of a viable option to be backup then we think, because he makes more explosive plays rather than more consistently smart plays.

        • CC

          I agree with you completely! I just told my friends that I expect Pryor to be the back up this year because he has the ability to make explosive plays.

          • casey

            Turnovers trump explosive plays. Pryor has to show good decision making in not turning the ball over to be considered, and thusfar I would say he has failed. Tjack (when healthy) has the arm for explosive plays.
            I am rooting for Pryor on so many levels and hopefully he shows well in the next 2 games because I think he could be a more valuable assest in the future to the Hawks, but from what I’ve seen thusfar, Tjack is the #2.

  12. kigenzun

    Jaworski knows what he is talking about… in the NFL its all about winning championships.

    He should… after all, his three completions to Rod Martin single-handedly won Super Bowl XV —>—>—>for the Raiders.

    • Robert

      He’s just a game damager…

  13. Jim

    I just looked at Jaws’s stats. Career 53.1% completions, only 4 seasons with at least 3,000 yards. career 6.8 yrds per att and only 1 year with passer rating over 100. I know different eras and all that but talent is talent in any era.

    • CC

      But he’s taller than Russell right? So, you have to take out all those statistics – all QBs taller than RW are better.

    • Arias

      And he had to compete against Randall Cunningham for the starting job every year, one that he eventually lost after his injury. Think he might have some resentment over the kind of quarterback that replaced him?

  14. MichaelJB

    First thought…. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are great QBs… But… Seattle would not be Champions if Peyton/Brady were Seahawks QB last year. All the problems that Seattle endured with the O-line, due to Peyton/Brady inability to scramble (and make good decisions when they scramble) the Hawks would have been a .500 team with either of those two behind center.

    Second thought… I keep reading that if Wilson didn’t have that defense and Marshawn Lynch, he would be nothing. Well, I agree to an extent b/c it’s a team sport, not an individual sport. But you could also say if Manning didn’t have arguably the best receiving corps in the NFL, a stout O-line, or if he didn’t play in a divison full of garbage defenses, then he wouldn’t have been as “great” as he was.

    Thomas (800 yards rushing after the reception) Welker (best slot in NFL) Decker (Top 3 NR2 Receiver in NFL) Thomas (Top 3 TE in NFL)…. couple that with a strong O-line and 6 games/year against Raiders-D, Chargers-D, overrated Chiefs-D. Imagine if that were Russell Wilson’s reality… but it wasn’t… he didn’t get that… he had a makeshift O-line, was sacked 45 times, had to play 6 games against the 49er-D, Cards-D, and Rams-D.

    At some point, people are going to be forced to give Russell respect… maybe after we get that second ring!
    Go Hawks!!!

  15. Attyla the Hawk

    I used to bristle at that kind of blind dogmatic prejudice.

    But now, I actually let that slip by. It’s not that I agree with it any more. Or that it bugs me any less.

    I simply love how much of the NFL is simply too set in their ways. I don’t want them out of the NFL. I want the NFL to be stuffed full of those kinds of guys. And I hope teams that are creative and on the vanguard of the NFL continue to flounder on these offseason “Top blah blah” lists.

    The “List” season is for losers. It’s eight rings of hell worse than following the draft. There is a reason that the doldrum of the NFL year is commanded by List season.

    I want the Jaworski’s of the world to keep their jobs. The same sheepish groupthink NFL execs to keep spawning more of the same.

    In the end, they are our competitors. And their blind ignorance is our competitive advantage. Their inflexibility and inability to mold their plan for winning to the talent at hand means they’ll continue to be mediocre or worse almost forever. Their inability to recognize talent in exotic forms means more talent for us on the cheap.

  16. Bob Johnston

    There’s a psychological term called “cognitive dissonance” and it’s the single biggest reason why most people are unable to change their minds on a subject, even when confronted by compelling evidence. People don’t deal well with the idea that they can be wrong (this might actually be instinctual), particularly when their career has been built upon the particular thing they believe and even more so if they are smart and confident. Doctors refuse to come to grips with studies showing cholesterol levels have nothing to do with heart disease, climatologists ignore the fact there hasn’t been warming of earth’s atmosphere for nearly 18 years, eyewitnesses continue to believe their testimony is true despite DNA or other physical evidence proving what they think they saw is impossible. This is cognitive dissonance and people will go to extreme lengths to avoid having to face they were wrong. This is the condition that led the physicist Max Planck to say “Science advances one funeral at a time”.

    It’s rare for someone who’s had a deeply held opinion to be able to backtrack on it, the avoidance of cognitive dissonance is the norm and not the exception. Richard Feynman said “The first rule is to not fool yourself because you are the easiest person to fool” and I expect he knew what he was talking about.

    So Jaw’s view on mobile QBs is not going to change and the more evidence you have to the contrary will make him dig his heels in even harder. This is human nature and that’s not going to ever be different. The best we can hope for is to hopefully recognize when we ourselves are doing it because you can’t fix it in another person.

    • Steve Nelsen

      I love this post. I wrote a guest article a while back about how the confidence bias affects the way we evaluate the draft. Now, after reading your post, I want to research cognitive dissonance and the draft.

    • Steeeve

      That was the most insightful, reasoned, and compassionate thing to be ever written in response to pundit word salad.

    • JeffC

      Fabulous post.

    • CC

      Great post! Thanks!

      • Miles

        Ha. Pretty sure anytime you use real science to combat how someone feels about something, you win the argument. Particularly in Jaworski’s case.

    • Arias

      Bob I loved your post otherwise but I have to point out what I believe is a counter factual claim you made when you said “climatologists ignore the fact there hasn’t been warming of earth’s atmosphere for nearly 18 years”. AFAICT, this seems to be a common myth peddled by the skeptics that doesn’t appear in sync with the reality of either NASA, NOAA, or the UK’s Met Office Hadley Center that tracks such data:


      I think you could have used a more salient example to illustrate how going against the conventional wisdom and with the empirical data is the more enlightened perspective as a backdrop to Wilson. Otherwise it appears poorly served to buck the wisdom and the empirical evidence.

  17. Chris

    I blame you for this 100% Rob.

    After I read:

    “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… ”

    I literally spit some of my beer onto my keyboard.

    After winning a superbowl, Jaws will still not give this guy the credit he deserves …

    As an “old school” talent evaluator, it’s time to take Jaws behind the woodshed. It’s clear he would’ve been far more useful helping kindergarten kids glue things together than trying to evaluate quarterbacks.

  18. Arias

    So there’s going to be a pro league in China? That should be a fascinating experiment. I’m curious since China doesn’t have the established roots that, say basketball does in that country there aren’t going to be native players to feed into those pro leagues. So I’m assuming all the players are going to come from the American college ranks? Is this supposed to be the new NFL d-league?

  19. Vin

    I sure wish somebody would’ve called Jaws out. Sure, I’m a hawks fan and am biased, but he has no excuse for being such a flip flopper. He should be a politician. After last nights preseason performance, I wondered if maybe Wilson & Co had heard Jaws. I just hate the whole Game Manager thing, because it’s not like the Hawks win inspite of Wilson. If that was the case, then the Hawks would’ve won the Super Bowl with a score of 22-8. The broncos sold out to stop the run, so Wilson took over and got the ball the everybody and made some impressive throws along the way. game. Managers don’t do that. Sometimes I wish PC would take the reins off of Wilson and just let him play. Maybe last nights game is an indication of that. Either way I’ll take the little guy over every other up and coming QB, except maybe Luck. He may not put up the huge stats that Jaws looks for, but he Just Wins, Baby! Go Hawks, and thanks Rob.

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