We’ve been fascinated by Jon Gruden’s recent segments with the 2010 elite quarterback prospects, even though we realize that Gruden is treating the effort as part of his broader plan to eventually get back into the NFL — and with maximum options and leverage when he’s ready to make the jump. (Indeed, that’s the real reason he’s so positive about every team, owner, and player when he’s on the air, and we’d have a ton of extra respect for him if he’d simply admit it.)
The latest snippet being played on the SportsCenter cycle features Gruden working with Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen. And it contains an arguable example of Clausen demonstrating the kind of leadership hiccup that some have pinned onto his portfolio.
Breaking down an ugly interception thrown by Clausen against North Carolina, where the only man open was wearing a powder blue jersey, Gruden asked Clausen what happened on the play.
Said Clausen, “So we got 50 hitch read called, and I gave [the receiver] a signal telling him to run a fade.”
“Didn’t get it?” Gruden said.
“He got it, [but] he just kept [the original route] on,” Clausen said.
Undercarriage of bus? Meet Notre Dame receiver.
On camera, Gruden seemed to measure his words carefully but he still made the unmistakable point that in this situation the blame falls to the quarterback. Off camera, we’re hoping that Gruden pulled Clausen aside and said, “Look, Jimmy. You’re already getting killed by Todd McShay for having leadership and maturity issues. When you publicly blame your receiver for something that ultimately was your responsibility, you give guys like McShay something tangible to point to. You never publicly blame your teammate like that, not right after the game or six months later or six years later. And if he told you that he saw the hand signal but that for whatever reason he chose to ignore it, then you resolve the situation in house. Regardless, you take the responsibility for not giving the guy a clear signal, for not being sure that he got it, or for not having the kind of relationship with your receiver where he’d never dare do anything other than what you tell him to do.”
And, no, we don’t know whether Gruden said anything like that. But if he’s really trying to help the players and not simply himself, he sure as hell should have.
Regardless, the show airs tonight on ESPN at 7:00 p.m. ET. And the DVR already has been programmed to capture it.