Last year, Jon Gruden’s too-bad-he-doesn’t-bring-it-like-that-in-the-broadcast-booth style of pressing incoming rookie quarterbacks adroitly cajoled Jimmy Clausen into placing blame on one of his receivers for a play that resulted in an interception. Mike Mayock of NFL Network concluded that the segment may have hurt Clausen’s draft stock.
This year, Gruden has exposed one of the stated concerns regarding the man widely expected to be the first pick in the draft: Cam Newton.
In a segment from Gruden’s second annual QB Camp playing currently in the perpetual SportsCenter loop, the former Raiders and Bucs coach tries to show Newton how different an NFL offense will be from the one he ran at Auburn.
“You know, some of this verbiage in the NFL, I don’t know how it was at Auburn, but it’s -- it’s long. You’ve got the shifts, the plays, the protections, the snap count, the alert, the check-with-mes,” Gruden said, snapping his fingers after listing each element of an NFL play call.
Then Gruden rattled one off: “I mean, flip right, double-X, Jet, 36 counter, naked waggle, X-7, X-quarter.” As Gruden was firing off that play, Newton shook his head and smiled, as if he’d never head before anything like that, ever.
Then Gruden pounced.
“Call something at Auburn that’s a little verbal,” Gruden said, obviously knowing the answer to the question. “What would be a little verbal? Any recollection on that?
“Gimme something,” Gruden said. “What’s an Auburn play sound like?”
“I mean, you’re putting me on the -- on the spot,” Newton said.
Having already proven his point, Gruden then gave Newton a lifeline. “You guys don’t get in the huddle much though, right?” Gruden said.
Newton welcomed that one. “We really don’t,” Newton said. “And our method is ‘simplistic equals fast.’ It’s so simple as far as, you look to the sideline [and] you see 36 on the board. And that’s a play. And we’re off.”
“That’s awesome,” Gruden said, but presumably not using the word in the same way that, say, Chris Farley would have.
“Let me make this point, though,” Gruden said. “The number one challenge you’re gonna have right away is the verbiage. And just getting comfortable with what we’re calling formations, what we’re calling routes. The alerts. The language. Speaking the language. You’re gonna move to France, and you’re gonna have to speak French, pretty quick. And that’ll be one of the big challenges immediately that you have because you haven’t been in a lot of these huddles, have you?”
The strong possibility that Newton won’t be able to begin his French lessons until September will make it harder for him to play as a rookie, regardless of where he’s drafted. But it still looks like the team that disregarded Clausen’s flaws in 2010 -- the Panthers -- will take the leap of faith on Newton in 2011.
Newton very well may be able to learn the NFL terminology quickly. That said, Gruden proved in roughly one minute of interrogation (SportsByBrooks has the segment posted if you want to see and hear it) that Newton comes to the NFL with zero knowledge or experience regarding the way that offensive plays are constructed and called.