When Jon Gruden wasn’t talking about his own record with young quarterbacks on Tuesday, he was extolling the virtues of the five prospects he worked with for his QB Camp series on ESPN.
While Gruden liked them all in some way, he made it clear one stood out above the rest:
“Cam Newton with 14 career starts, the thing that impressed me, not only his physical attributes and his size, but his charisma,” Gruden said. “I think his eagerness to learn and prove that he can adapt to a pro style on offense. He showed very good retention to me in the meetings and the material that we covered.
“I just like the look in his eyes, the eagerness and feeling that he has a lot to prove to everybody including himself. I think Newton impressed me the most in that regard.”
We watched Newton’s 30-minute episode. The part where Gruden presses him on not knowing a playcall is awkward, but the rest of the show was mostly a love-fest. They had a funny chemistry together. By the end, Newton practically convinces Gruden that trying to sneak for a touchdown at the end of the BCS title game against Newton’s coach’s wishes was a good idea.
Newton’s inability to fire off a huddle call from his days at Auburn seems like a red flag for a coach like Gruden that has so much verbiage in his offense. But Gruden didn’t sound like that would deter him from taking Newton.
“Yeah, it’s not his fault that they don’t huddle. This is a no‑huddle offense,” Gruden said. “Cam Newton will learn quickly what to call formations, what to call shifts, what to call motions. That is something that I learned. What he’s got to get ready for right away is learning the terminology and how to spit these plays out clearly, quickly, and get the team up to the line of scrimmage where he has time to deal.”
It’s at this point Florio says to me over Instant Message — we’re teenage girls at heart — that Gruden has to be positive about these kids, or kids won’t do the show in the future.
We agree with the point, but think Gruden’s man love for Newton genuinely rises about the other four campers.