Gruden on Cam Newton: “It’s not his fault they don’t huddle”


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.

33 responses to “Gruden on Cam Newton: “It’s not his fault they don’t huddle”

  1. In three years he will be another where is he now QB I just pray the panthers dont waste their well deserved pick on him

  2. I have watched all four interviews (Locker, Dalton, Mallett and Newton) and I think Gruden was uncharacteristically nice to all of them. Anyone that has watched Gruden on NFL films training camp or practice footage knows that he isn’t like that when it is his QB and his livelihood is on the line. I think he is just playing damage control now because he might have to coach one of these guys in the future, and if he doesn’t coach next year, he wants guys to come onto the show without fear of being torn to shreds publicly.

    I really think Gruden’s favorite of all the QB’s is Dalton. He may not be as physically gifted, but Gruden appeared to like his technique and understanding of the game the most. In my opinion, the Newton interview was very painful. Cam struggled to articulate his thoughts, which has to be concerning, and there appeared to be a slew of red flags for GM’s. And the PFT guys are crazy if they think Gruden loved the QB sneak at the end of the game. He might like a competitive guy, but he also knows that there is no way he would ever accept that type of behavior from his QB.

    Watch the Mallett show vs. the Newton show and watch Mallett break down his play and reads on the white board. Mallett’s play is based on reading a defense and hitting the appropriate person. Newton’s play was based on a superior running threat at QB (Newton) and faking a Jet sweep to get a wide open receiver in the red zone. That isn’t going to happen in the NFL. Safeties are not going to be concerned about Cam running QB Power Lead. Cam is a physically gifted athlete, but none of the top 4 Qb’s in the NFL are great athletes, so I don’t think that factors in nearly as much as it does at other positions. I am just glad there is no way my team drafts him, because I think he will be an epic fail. War Eagle!

  3. Let’s look at the other side of the coin how well has Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen done? They were supposed to be pro ready and already know the verbage. As seen with a lot of QB picks there just isn’t any good way of telling how good or bad they could be. And it’s better for a lot of them if they don’t have to start right away so they can learn the offense. Especially this year where we aren’t going to get offseason training done or a playbook.

    In all honesty, I’d almost say that no QB should be taken in the first round this year because with how this offseason will play it sets them up to be a bust their first year no matter what.

  4. Newton went to Auburn because they were a no huddle spread offense!!!!!!!

    And we all know how well spread QBs do in the NFL.

  5. “36 ” Thats a play called at Auburn. Leinhart and Brady Quinn could throw the terminolgy out and where are they?

  6. @sonvar

    I agree this year no rookie will be ready to go, but if you’re thinking next year or the year after I say go with newton he’s got the most upside.

  7. TLDR:

    “I don’t want to get a rep as a guy who slams QB’s on my show, so I’ll say Cam is great and hope next year’s crop of rookie QB’s agree to interviews”

  8. Terminology does not NEED to be complicated. Just give every route a number, ever protection a name, and every run its own name. I mean, it can be way dumbed down like they did at auburn. With that all being said, Cam Newton will be like every other run first qb in the nfl. A pure joy to watch, makes awesome plays, wins games, moves the chains, but when it comes to a big 3rd and 13 in the playoffs, they just cant make that throw. End of story.

  9. In Bill Walsh’s book Finding The Winning Edge, Bill Walsh talked about how there were going to be less “verbiage” and more “no huddles” and plays would be called with a single word. That was back in 1997, so what Newton said was true. “Simple is Fast.” Simple won them a National Championship. Last team with “complexed” play calling that won the Super Bowl is the Colts and the Colts didn’t win because of offense.

  10. I dont care who the qb is if he doesnt have a running game and a good defense to protect him as a rookie he will fail, prime examples are Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, and Mark Sanchez all three teams have good defense and great run games. Mark Sanchez’s numbers are horrible but the defense and run game bails him out on a consistent enough basis to where people can say that he is successful, Joe Flacco is a interception machine when asked to throw the ball on a regular basis, and Matt Ryan is an average to above average qb talent at best he just has a work horse at running back that can move the chains just by tripping forward.

  11. The argument that Quinn, Clausen, etc. knew how to call huddle players and failed is okay to make, but some of you seem to be implying that it’s unimportant. It’s not. It’s very important, and knowing the playcalls actually helped Quinn and Clausen. There have just been other factors at work that caused Quinn to fail and Clausen to have a rough rookie season. Knowing how to call huddle plays was and continues to be a good thing to know and bad thing to not know.

  12. It still amazes me that a guy with only 14 college starts is even remotely considerd for the NFL draft, let alone be a possible number one pick……

    And people wonder where we get the Jarmucus Russells of the world?

  13. What “little Chuckie” fails to understand is that no system, terminology or verbiage should prevent an athlete from playing the game. If that is the issue, then the system has to change. After all, there is not a string attached from the brain to the hamstring. Just because a player can run fast and jump high does not mean he is a brainiac. Football is not brain surgery or rocket science. Al Davis, when told that a player could not learn the system, said that the system had to change because he did not draft the player for his ability to read and write. Some of these “guru” coaches get hung up with their system and fail to realize that the objective is to get the best players on the field and to get them to produce. Brett Favre once ridiculed the terminology at Green Bay when he said that he had to call a play that was 14 words long just go get the tailback to leap over the top of the pile from the one yard line. Chuckie should be using this time away from the game to redefine his system.

  14. Yeah, Quinn and Leinart failed and Clausen looks like he will never develop, but that would fall in line with the nature of drafting QB’s (Ryan, Flacco, Rodgers, Bradford etc all seem to be doing well but there are also going to be a lot of David Carr’s, Vince Young’s and Alex Smith’s as well). Clausen came off as egotistical and as a poor leader in his Gruden camp interview last year, which is a similar issue Newton faces. Cam will be done in by the mountain of issues: No center snaps, no grasp of nfl verbiage, simplistic college offense, run-first instincts, lack of accuracy (watch Gruden repeatedly as him to hit the WR on the numbers), character issues. Tebow had fewer issues last year, and you can see how poorly he has developed. He started 3 games last year and threw about 12 passes further than 5 yards downfield because he doesn’t know what he is doing or seeing from the defense. In my opinion, Cam just has too much working against him, especially when you consider that he is getting ready to be handed at least $20M. Just think about it. Mcnabb and Vick are the only current QB’s that ran a significant amount in college that are successful in the NFL and I think we all know their ceiling does not include a Superbowl Championship. Cam threw 280 passes last year and ran 264 times. What about that makes it seem like it is a good fit for the NFL?

    In response to complicated terminology, the answer is no, it doesn’t have to be complicated, but there is going to be some, and it appears that Cam has very little background in any type of terminology. It is just another example of how far he is from being NFL ready.

  15. Bill Walsh himself couldn’t have made Shaun King a great QB. He had a career 73.4 QB rating in the NFL.

    Plus, upon his arrival in Tampa, Gruden continued to start Brad Johnson, and ultimately won a Super Bowl with him. I’m sure King is salty over never being promoted to first-string. Actually, at one point, TB’s QB hierarchy went:

    1.) Brad Johnson
    2.) Rob Johnson
    3.) Shaun King

    Further, the QBs that both preceded and followed him in Tampa, Dilfer and Johnson, both won Super Bowls.

    To me, Shaun King will be citing excuses for the rest of his life.

    In my opinion, Jon Gruden is a very good coach, as he understands the inner-workings of personalities.

  16. burntorangehorn says:
    Apr 20, 2011 10:04

    It’s very important, and knowing the playcalls actually helped Quinn and Clausen. There have just been other factors at work that caused Quinn to fail and Clausen to have a rough rookie season…………………………

    LOL. How has it helped Quinn? He’s a 3rd string quarterback, and what factors beside they both suck at being NFL QB’s?

  17. Again, RE: Newton – if you watched his segment with Gruden, through no skewing of the presentation, Cam looked like he would be tough to work with, and appeared to be WAY too full of himself.

    The kicker for me was that he is just so far behind the 8-ball terminology-wise. I mean, this kid is about to be force-fed grauduate level Spanish, essentially, in his new playbook, and yet he isn’t really that much of a foreign language buff, as is.

  18. @cappa662
    Well considering there’s 32 starting QBs in the league..I’d say quite a few of them did well when coming out of the spread. Ever heard of Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees or Ben Roethlisberger? 4 out of 5 superbowl wins between the 3 in the last few years doesn’t sound to bad to me. Hey, might wanna look at Sam Bradford too..but no, you’re right. Spread QBs can’t make it in the NFL.

    Who’s Leinhart? I’ve heard of Leinart..but I’m assuming that’s not who you’re referring to.

  19. Gruden: “It’s not Cam’s fault that he stole a laptop, stole someone’s paper and submitted it for his own grade, and took money from Miss St and Aubrun.”

  20. egreen4590 says:
    Apr 20, 2011 10:47 AM
    Well considering there’s 32 starting QBs in the league..I’d say quite a few of them did well when coming out of the spread. Ever heard of Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees or Ben Roethlisberger? 4 out of 5 superbowl wins between the 3 in the last few years doesn’t sound to bad to me. Hey, might wanna look at Sam Bradford too..but no, you’re right. Spread QBs can’t make it in the NFL.

    Green if you are trying to use this as a pro-Newton argument, you are failing miserably. All of the players you mentioned did come out of a spread system, but they also didn’t run the ball at a nearly 50-50 split. Here is the breakdown of rush attempts vs. pass attempts for each player’s last season (Bradford’s second to last year because he was hurt early in his final year):

    Rodgers: 74 rush att, 316 pass att
    Bradford: 42 rush att, 483 pass att
    Brees: 91 rush att, 473 pass att
    Roethlisberger: 67 rush att, 495 pass att

    A spread offense can help prep you for the NFL because you learn to throw hot reads, make protection adjustments, and progress through your pass reads, but you MUST THROW from the spread, not run like Tebow and Newton. Running from the spread retards the process because you never take a snap and you don’t get any of the positive benefits mentioned above. Tebow and Newton basically ran an offense that most closely resembles the Single Wing (check it out online, it has been around for a while) of Wildcat and that in no way transitions to an NFL passing offense.

  21. Obviously – Most of the time it is difficult to pick who will become a stud NFL QB. Being able to rapidly read defenses, make adjustments at the line, and find the open WR in a blink of an eye is much more important than being a physical freak at the QB position. NFL QB’s need the physical skills, but without the intelligence to make the right/correct decisions quickly your team will always struggle. I would even rate leadership ability above having a physically gifted athlete at QB. Of course all three traits would be nice!

  22. Gruden is good for TV. He wouldn’t be good for ESPN if he just bashed these kids. It’ll come out later on once he’s done with ESPN, what he really thought.

  23. This shouldn’t even be a topic of discussion. As richm2256 says (a rare moment of agreement for us), the kid has had only 14 starts in a simplified, run-based spread offense. I’m taking nothing away from his overall athleticism, but he is not ready to run a pro-style offense. If Gruden truly believes Newton is prepared to step into a huddle and call complex offensive formations–or read complex defensive formations–it’s good Tampa dumped him before his break with reality. But I doubt Gruden really believes that.

    Why would the Panthers–a team in such desperate need they’re picking first–waste a number one selection on a guy who can’t start on the first day? And if they plan to develop him, who’s going to bring him along? Clausen?

  24. this is interesting to me that chucky was most impressed with newton. i have watched all of the gruden camp shows and just from the 30 minutes they cut for us i was the least impressed with newton. this was for numerous reasons. the playcall thing was one red flag, but it also annoyed me how obviously vain and arrogant newton is…beyond confident. i thought gruden went especially easy on him and buddy buddied with him a lot more than the other QBs. the BCS play is the thing that bothers me the most though. how can a coach be okay with that? newton doesn’t even apologize and say he should have listened to his coach. he basically says he would have done the same thing over again. yeah, nothing bad happened and they won the game anyway, but disregarding your head coaches wishes is a HUGE red flag in my book.

  25. I thought Newton came off looking and sounding like a dope. I saw him on two different ESPN shows. In fact, I’d bet he scared off many teams. Maybe he was nervous but he seemed unsure or hesitant diagraming some plays on the board. I couldn’t believe Gruden wasn’t pressuring him more.
    I would’ve liked Gruden to sit down with VA Tech’s Tyrod Taylor. I’m not saying Taylor will be an NFL star but his stats were better than Newton’s and he sounds smarter (not that you can necessarily judge intellect by how someone speaks but…..). I’ll be interested to read the follow-up stories once Cam is handed a playbook and has to call plays in the huddle and at the line.

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