Urban Meyer to N.F.L. coaches: I’m not impressed

gators-coach-urban-meyerFrom Judy Battista’s great New York Times piece from the weekend:

On the horizon is the University of Florida’s star quarterback, Tim Tebow, who will enter the draft next year. He could open the door to what was once virtually unthinkable in the N.F.L.: a quarterback with the size and sturdiness of a linebacker who reads the defense and has the freedom to run as often as he passes in the college-style spread-option offense.

In many ways, change has been forced on the N.F.L. because defenses are so fast and complex, and because fewer drop-back passers, fullbacks and blocking tight ends are being produced in a college game dominated by the spread.

So it is little surprise that almost all N.F.L. teams occasionally use a four- or five-receiver offense, and that Florida Coach Urban Meyer, who has all but perfected the spread with the Gators after giving it prominence at Utah, has been asked for advice from at least four N.F.L. teams, including the New England Patriots.

“I think it would have worked years ago,” Meyer said. “No one has had enough — I don’t want to say courage — no one has wanted to step across that line. Everyone runs the same offense in the N.F.L. A lot of those coaches are retreads. They get fired in Minnesota, they go to St. Louis. They get fired in St. Louis and go to San Diego. I guess what gets lost in the shuffle is your objective is to go win the game. If it’s going to help you win the game, then you should run the spread.”

I particularly liked his line about everyone running the same offense in the NFL. I, of course, wrote the same thing several weeks ago, and had many people tell me I didn’t know what I was talking about. (And anytime both Urban Meyer and Mike Leach are roughly on the same side of an issue, then that is probably the correct side.) And, Meyer might be a college guy, but he’s good friends with Belichick and, as the article pointed out, multiple N.F.L. teams have contacted him.

But things are changing. Tempora mutantur nos et mutamur in illis.

  • http://www.edinburghwolves.com don

    i cant wait to see Tebow in the NFL for 2 reasons

    1) he will be a start no doubt and will liven things up
    2) getting sacked by the likes of Merriman will look so sweet

    nice article
    regards

    D

  • loneweasel

    If Tebow gets drafted before the third round, then I’ll be impressed… by the gullibility of stupid GM’s.

    How’s Tebow in anyway “once virtually unthinkable” as the NYT so breathlessly states? He has pretty good size, sure, but in every other facets of quarterbacking he is subpar compared to the pros. There is no novelty here.

    The proponents of spread offenses have to make certain concessions to maintain intellectual honesty on the issue of the NFL draft. If the schemes are so good that Meyer, Rodriguez and Johnson etc win more than the talent on their teams would warrant, then the pros are right to be skeptical about individual talent that come out of those programs.

  • loneweasel

    One more thing, “friends with Belichick” really isn’t a guarantee of success. In fact, nowadays it’s more like a kiss of death.

  • Jon

    Tebow’s running style is not going to cut it in the NFL. He’ll get injured before the end of the season. He looks for contact but he’s not facing some D1AA opponent or an inferior college players. NFL are a totally different animal.

  • Dave

    “He could open the door to what was once virtually unthinkable in the N.F.L.: a quarterback with the size and sturdiness of a linebacker who reads the defense and has the freedom to run as often as he passes in the college-style spread-option offense.”

    Oh please. Daunte Culpepper is bigger and while he wasn’t the runner Tebow is–although he was a fine runner, he was a better passer coming out of college. And Culpepper was turned (or their coaches tried to turn them) into a pocket passer, just like every mobile QB that enters the NFL. The NFL isn’t going to change overnight, and even if it does it has to be the perfect storm of a coach and GM willing to totally change things, and an owner who has the patience to give it time to develop; and of course they have to be in a position to draft Tebow. Forgive me if I don’t think that will come to fruition.

    Tim Tebow may very well become a very good NFL QB, and I hope he does because he’s an exciting player to watch. But we’ve heard this story before about Vick and even to a degree McNabb and Culpepper and it’s never materialized. And in 3 years it’ll happen all over again with Terrell Pryor.

  • loneweasel

    Even strictly as a runner, Tebow is no where near as good an NFL prospect as Vick, Young, Pryor or even White, who all made their living on the ground by agility and speed. He’s certainly been a productive college runner. But a ton of goal line carries represent very little value to a pro team. To run purely on power, you’d better be built like Jacobs (who even at his size has not been especially durable), which Tebow is not.

  • Mr.Murder

    This was the perfect moment to add your views on elevated risk vs. safe range market returns as the predominant factor in decision making.

    Either you take big chances and have steep results on a yield curve, or you ride the wade of convention, thus staying roughly in the same frame of reference for future employment in the coaching ranks.

    How many Glanvilles are out there?

    Meyer is having success with a system and with talent. Either argument could apply to his planning and play calls. For the NFL it would be about money and having a QB subject the wear and tear that would elevate the risk on his contract against the cap.

    The market is thin for backup QB right now as well. Who cares what kind of system he ran, can he play QB at all right now? That’s the question a lot of GM face.

    Meyer is right to good degree. The spectrum of play calling in the league represents a narrow range or options. Take your little head and the pointed hat you wear and switch teams, it will fit there also.

  • Airraid 4 life

    While most of you make very valuable points I totally disagree with the idea the spread offense with a running QB type system wouldn’t work in the NFL. I do agree the QBs would take a pounding the same as any RB would. Yes they would more often be injured then just a game manager, pocket passer. But, why can’t you have multiple QBs. This sytem is much easier to run then what the pro offenses run therefor you could have more QBS ready to step in. Imagine having Tim Tebow, Mike Vick, Pat White, and Vince Young to run your system. You could collect 3 to 4 quality type Qbs. I am not saying it has to be those four or you could even get those four I am just making the point it could be done. It makes the Qb’s not have to be as experience as the way the league runs now. There are alot of guys in college that could do it if a team chose to go that route. As the NFL is now in most cases when the starter gets hurt the team really takes a step back because they can’t asfford to give the back up the reps needed. I believe in the spread type offense it would be easier to have multiple QBs game ready. Well just my opinion!

  • http://www.spreadoffense.com Spread Offense

    Bold prediction: I think if Urban Meyer wins another national title this year… he’s going to be the next Dallas Cowboys head coach. He may leave even if they don’t win it… what more does he have to prove at the college level?

  • Mr.Murder

    Gruden is the man coaches will want after MNF fans hear him so much, it will boost his stock regardless of any game outcome he announces.

  • Justin S

    I’d like to ask Urban Meyer how does he think of the Alex Smith revolution so far…oh wait.

  • Dave

    “Imagine having Tim Tebow, Mike Vick, Pat White, and Vince Young to run your system. You could collect 3 to 4 quality type Qbs.”

    The problem there is that once you get past 2 QBs you are sacrificing depth at another position to have 3 or 4 QBs active, teams only carry 2 active QBs with the 3rd being an inactive emergency QB who has limitations on their ability to be an active player, something that the Eagles have to face when Vick comes back. So you lose a special teamer and offensive lineman, or a fullback and a tight end, etc. Which gets back to having a coach and GM fully intent on having wholesale organizational changes and an owner with the patience to give it the time it will take to develop.

    And that’s not even addressing the problem of a QB needing repetition to be sharp and the effects a constant rotation among 3 or 4 QBs would have.

    “I’d like to ask Urban Meyer how does he think of the Alex Smith revolution so far…oh wait.”

    It’s not Meyer’s fault that the 49ers mishandled Smith. Maybe he wouldn’t have been a good pro anyway, but the 49ers tried to put a square peg in a round hole.

  • loneweasel

    The four Vince Young offense would be fun, and reasonably effective, in adding couple more wins to a two-win NFL club. We saw a glimpse of that in last year’s Chiefs. Their Pistol gave a moribound offense more points, more excitement and less versatility.

    The problem, of course is that it takes away the one thing a passing offense has to do in the NFL, in fact the one thing only a passing game can do. When faced with third (and fourth) and long, in modern football, you need an accurate quarterback with good arm strength and good pocket awareness behind an adequate line to go through his progressions to fire that seam, out or post. You are not YAC’ing it to a first down unless you have a decided advantage in talent, especially if the defense is expecting it.

    Therein lies the biggest difficulty of the spread’s transition to the NFL. It is a good offense from which to draw elements. But it will only work in crucial situations, especially in the playoffs, if you have that quarterback. And there are not more than fifteen people in the entire world who can do that.

  • Bobby Cox

    I think we have already seen the spread work in the NFL the spread shotgun passing game has been around forever what type of offenses were Marino and Kelly running, what do you see the Pats doing a lot of now?

    Now we are seeing more teams use parts of the spread running game Ronnie Brown with the wildfish, Vick on the zone reads & boots some of the best ground games in past few years.

    Tebow can make it in the NFL I don’t ever think you will see him running zone reads and triple options up and down the field but around the goal-line his run skills could still be deadly & the injury risk isn’t as great on short yardage plays.

  • Justin S

    @Dave…

    While I understand the plight of Alex Smith (Consistent changes in OC’s, Nolan’s handling of his injury), he really doesn’t look like he gets it. Add in his horrible fumbling problem and it’s bad. He also couldn’t win the Job this year vs Hill. It was an open competition and smith looked HORRIBLE. There is a history of these QB’s failing to do something in the NFL. (We could count success as Joe Montana in ND’s triple option, but Bill Walsh is the best coach of the modern era).

    @loneweasel
    I’m in the camp that the wildcat will get crushed this year. Look at what NE did in the second mathup as well s B-more in the playoffs. Some team will put the QB at WR and he is going to get CRUSHED. Once the Front office sees that, it’s gone. Then when you start putting mainly pure runners in there, the D can hone in.

    As far as the passing spread goes: Kansas, Ne, and Saints all have been running for of that type of offense.

  • Justin S

    Back to the issue. I had a huge problem with what Leach said about the spread. If the transition is so easy (I believe he said in one weekend or something he could coach the kids, may be wrong) then leach should have made an example with Harrell. Instead, Harrell looked like crap at the senior bowl when trying to go under center, arm strength, ect.

  • SRS

    Interesting discussion. While you can’t deny the general success of spread offenses, I think their impact has been vastly overrated. In fact, when I ran the numbers, there’s been very little change in offensive scoring since Urban’s breakout year in 2004. Even more important, scoring defense still rules the day for the most successful programs and scoring defense numbers for national champions haven’t changed significantly since the 1950’s.

  • mark

    The worry with Tebow is you have a multi million dollar player who is risking injury. Not only that how long will his body take that kind of a beating with studies showing that after a certain number of hits a running back’s performance drops off.

  • CC

    “He looks for contact but he’s not facing some D1AA opponent or an inferior college players.”

    Right, Don. SEC defenses are overpopulated with tiny, inferior defenders. It’s that reason, not Tebow’s skill and toughness, that has allowed him to successfully navigate 2+ years of conference play, netting him 2 conference championships, 2 national championships, and 1 Heisman trophy. So far…

    I know that the NFL is essentially a college all-star league, but Tebow faces many of those same players now. And what’s to say that his NFL coaches won’t try to dial down the head-first running and make him more of a pocket passer, a la Donovan McNabb?

  • CC

    Sorry, that was supposed to be “Jon,” not “Don.”

  • loneweasel

    “to successfully navigate 2+ years of conference play, netting him 2 conference championships, 2 national championships, and 1 Heisman trophy”

    Pity he still won’t be any more successful in the NFL than Charlie Ward.

  • AERose

    “There is a history of these QB’s failing to do something in the NFL. (We could count success as Joe Montana in ND’s triple option, but Bill Walsh is the best coach of the modern era).”

    There’s a history of the vast majority of quarterbacks regardless of offensive background failing to do something in the NFL.

  • Lynn

    Timmy Tebow will do in the N.F.L. what he has done and continues to do on the college level and did at the high school level. He will take the N.F.L. by storm and rewrite their record books. You would be a fool if Tebow was not your first pick. I am looking forward with great anticipation to following his Pro career for years to come. I would bet my life that Timmy will be the next N.F.L. STAR! It is not wise to doubt Tebow.

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