Folks wondering about the idea that Brandon Weeden’s horrendous rookie season was all or mostly a function of Pat Shurmur’s play-calling got another clue before the Combine when a former graduate assistant coach at Oklahoma State, Jake Spavital, spoke to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about the difference between Weeden and 2013’s top QB prospect Geno Smith. Spavital, who was recently hired by Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M as quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator, moved from Oklahoma State after Weeden’s junior year to join Dana Holgorson’s staff as quarterbacks coach at West Virginia where he worked with Smith for the last two seasons.
“[Smith] studies [the game],” Spavital said. “With Brandon Weeden, I couldn’t say that about him. I love the guy to death but he had some good guys around him. Brandon knew how to get the ball to those guys. There were times at West Virginia when (Smith) had to create things.”
“[Smith] could do it all,” Spavital added:
“He could be under center. He can throw out of the shotgun. He can throw comebacks. He can pull it and run when he needs to. We got to do some pretty good stuff with Geno because he was such a good student of the game and we could do anything with him. … He impresses me a lot with the things that he can do — how he operates the game, how he studies. He would actually sit there and bring ideas to the table. There were times when we let him check 80% of the game. We put a lot on him and he’s capable of doing that. … There are those guys that are ‘what can football do for me?’ He’s ‘what can I do for football.'”
Mary Kay Cabot picked up on these comments from Spavital in Saturday’s Plain Dealer in discussing a pair of quotes from Joe Banner and Rob Chudzinski in which they raised questions about, “how bad [Weeden] wants it,” and “how much he puts into it,” respectively. And it’s as clear as ever that if last year’s 22nd overall pick isn’t going to be a complete waste, it will depend on a 29-year-old multimillionaire quarterback picking up NFL-level study habits that he didn’t have when he was 28.
In other news, per MKC, Joe Banner revealed “his football philosophy” at a Combine press conference.
“[It's] about preventing pressure on your quarterback and getting pressure on the opposing team’s quarterback,” Banner said. “If you can do that, you have a chance to win any game against any team.”
Which is either completely meaningless or a simplistic echo of what every armchair analyst in the country said after the Packers and Giants won consecutive Super Bowls in 2010 and 2011 with excellent quarterback play and a pass rush propelled by an end who finished in the league’s top 5 in sacks.
Relatedly, Ziggy Ansah/Jason Pierre-Paul comparisons are rapidly gaining currency (here’s the PD’s Tom Reed on the same).
And in other sports, Zac Jackson wrote a profile on University of Akron mens basketball coach Keith Dambrot, notable of course for MACtion, as well as something for biscuitologists to keep an eye on as March approaches (the Zips have won 18 in a row and face last year’s MAC champ Ohio U. this Wednesday night), and an excellent read on a local leader that Northeast Ohio can be proud of.