The QB Blast: Constant Jawing Wears Players OutJuly 27th, 2010
By JEFF CARLSON
Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson (1990 & 1991) writes The QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com. Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson is often seen as a color analyst on Bright House Sports Network, and he trains quarterbacks of all ages locally via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.
With no more World Cup futbol/soccer and only baseball highlights to choose from, ESPN recently ran a three-day special on Jon Gruden’s days as the assistant offensive line coach at Carrollwood Day School.
It was much needed feel-good programming at a time when there isn’t much fooball news — unless it’s bad news.
ESPN went back to the gold mine that they got pre-draft, when their Monday Night Football star brought us four days of QB meetings he had with the top prospects in the draft. I anticipated that show greatly, as coaching the quarterback position is my passion as well, but nowhere near the same planet of passion as Gruden. Nobody can match that. I enjoyed the peek inside the QB meeting room with these soon-to-be millionaires and was entertained, as well, but probably not for the same reasons as most.
Gruden became infamous because of his “Chucky” faces and profane sideline language, and now he is working with 14-18 year old young men.
There are sure to be a lot more “Jiminy Christmases” in his vocabulary now than his other well-known catchphrases on his pro practice fields and game sidelines. The “Jovial Jon” was certainly on display during the camera’s visit to the North Tampa campus and seemed to be on his best behavior, likely since it is the offseason and the game intensity isn’t turned up during these “mic’d up” sessions.
If you ever wondered why some players might have grown weary of Gruden and turned their ears off over time, just listen to the total number of words that are said and the percentage that actually have something to do with the play or concept.
Young guys can really be dazzled by the volume of words, but the older you get the more you look for substance over quantity. And all those words just become “blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada”.
After doing the QB segment before the draft, I bet Colt McCoy and his agent weren’t too happy about Gruden talking about him being extremely small or how hard his southern accent that is to understand. Neither of those things is football-related, as he lead Texas the national title game calling plays and he is just as tall as the current Super Bowl MVP.
Players can only handle so much between their ears. Too too much extraneous nonsense starts getting tuned out or taken offensively.
Two things stood out to me in the first installment of Gruden with the high schoolers. The first is just how much fluff is thrown out there (e.g. patting the blocking sled, telling it how well it did stopping two players from pushing it down the field). There is a fine line between coaching and demeaning players.
I have always said I liked John Robinson as a head coach because he could “call you out” for not getting your job done and pat you on the back when you corrected your mistake without ridiculing the player(s). Constant jawing, if it doesn’t help the player improve technique, can really wear players out. Old married guys can relate to this as their wives just keep talking and talking, even though they got the point long beforehand and turned the volume switch off long ago.
The second thing is Gruden’s offense, which the Bucs may be much closer to running these days than they were a year ago at this point.
Remember, in July and August of last year, Jeff Jagodzinski and Raheem Morris had decided to be a hard running and down-field passing play-action team. It wasn’t until September that the offense went into Greg Olson’s hands.
I’m not sure what the offensive verbiage was during last season, but they couldn’t haven changed all the language and lingo back just a couple days before the season. Olson may now have a split between his Rams days in “The Greatest Show On Turf,” under Mike Martz’s timing offense, and his more recent time with Gruden’s version of the “West Coast Offense.”
Hearing Gruden try to get an offensive lineman to understand the concept of “razor and lazer” line calls was interesting, as you hear how closely the two sound and how they could be misheard with a little crowd noise. I’m sure the Bucs used “Razor” and “Lazer” calls on their way to the Lombardi Trophy, so missing those calls probably hasn’t been a big issue and everyone on the defensive line of the opposing team knows what those calls mean anyway, but rhyming words aren’t a great habit to make in calls at the line or in the huddle.
Not everyone can see the QB’s mouth in the huddle and could miss that first sound of the word. Other common calls are “Roger/Louie, Rip/Liz, Ricky/Lucky”. Each of these calls tells a player to block left or right based on the first letter in the word. As you see in the other examples, each word starts with an “L” or “R” for right or left, but ends with a different sound. It only takes one person to hear “razor” when it was a “lazer” call to have bad things happen.
Anyway, the videos are great entertainment for guys that love the HBO “Hardknocks” series or anything football in July when programming is minimal. And checking in on the most famous high school assistant offensive line coach in the world every once in a while is pretty good stuff, too.