Following the NFL before the draft is always an exercise in stupidity, but never more so than when discussing quarterbacks. I admit I have a rooting interest this year since Marcus Mariota is the greatest Oregon player of my lifetime. And I have no idea how he will translate to the NFL. He’s an incredible athlete and very smart but he does miss some open receivers at times and fumbles a bit. I personally don’t think that he’s never huddled is a real issue. But you know what, it probably depends on the team who drafts him. I don’t know.
What I do know is that the coverage of quarterbacks every year is really stupid. Last year, it was Teddy Bridgewater for all sorts of really stupid reasons. And it turns out he looks like a very solid quarterback. This year it is Mariota for many of the same stupid reasons. What’s crazy is how much so many coaches want their QBs to be “leaders” of a very particular type, which is mostly yelling a lot. They want Brett Favre. And if a QB reminds them of him, they’ll raise him in the draft.
“Just because a guy doesn’t yell and scream at a guy when he doesn’t run the right route, ask any of those guys if they’d take Eli Manning. I don’t see Eli Manning screaming and yelling at anybody,” said Chip Kelly, Mariota’s coach at Oregon before Kelly went to the Eagles. “But you talk about a stone-cold killer in the fourth quarter, look how many fourth-quarter comebacks Eli’s had.
“It’s the silly season. I’ve said it before. The NFL draft hype is the craziest thing in the world. Guys are going to go up, guys are going to go down. Cam Newton couldn’t play. There’s no reason to draft him in the first round. All of a sudden, he goes No. 1. It’s crazy.”
Zimmer, who had been known as a smart and cocky defensive coordinator before getting his shot with the Vikings, admitted he was one of those guys that wanted to see some swagger out of his quarterback. Zimmer might not have been as adamant about it as other coaches, but he certainly considered that factor a plus.
Bridgewater has made him a believer.
“Well, I did learn a lot about that, to be honest with you,” Zimmer said. “He’s a guy that leads by how hard he works, by the improvement that he makes in practice every day, the way he wanted to learn how to annunciate the plays, just all the extra effort that they guy put in. … He’s not one of those guys that is going to get in your face, this or that, but the players all gravitate towards this guy. He’s always got a smile, he’s confident but not cocky. It’s never about him, so it’s always about, How can I help this guy do this better or the team.
“Maybe it’s not your leadership style that everybody is thinking about, but it was really effective this year. So I learned quite a bit.”
So nice of an NFL head coach to learn that, hey, maybe a QB doesn’t have to be brash to be effective. I’m glad that basic logic has entered the NFL finally, at least in places. See also Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan. Jameis Winston might be a great NFL QB. I don’t know. I do know that he throws A LOT of interceptions. A 25:18 TD:INT ratio is not going to fly in the NFL. Not to mention that it’s not like FSU had terrible receivers or played great defenses all year. Again, I don’t know. But Winston’s brashness and cockiness is serving him well with the troglodytes who staff so much of the NFL. And some of this is a combination of the NFL’s toxic masculinity and racism. If the QB doesn’t play those super manly games, then he’s not their man. And if he is a quiet Hawaiian dude (and Mariota is nothing if not a quiet Hawaiian dude) then there’s a problem with him. Forget what you’ve seen on the field and what you’ve seen in the interviews. How did he do in his pro day and at the combine and how loud is he? That’s true leadership!
Of course, none of this matches the all-time stupidest pre-draft fall of a QB, which was Aaron Rodgers, who fell partially because previous QBs coached in college by Jeff Tedford like Kyle Boller and Akili Smith had not done well in the NFL. I’m glad the science behind that proved so solid!
…I will also note that a) of all the Oregon uniforms, those are the best by far and b) this was the game when Oregon beat Washington for merely the 11th consecutive year.