Who's Kidding Who: My thoughts on coaches and QB's during preseason.
I found it more than interesting that over the last week, three different coaches made proclamations about their quarterback situations a week into camp. I couldn’t help but wonder why?
In Chicago, head coach Matt Nagy continues to insist that Free Agent signee Andy Dalton is his starting QB. This has not changed all spring, even though the team drafted Justin Fields in the first round this past April. I am as anxious to see Fields progress through preseason (not just in one game) as I am any rookie this year. The early reports from camp have been that his eye popping natural talent has already shown above where anyone’s expectations had envisioned. He’s big, he is fast ad he has a live arm. The next step is, can he process the information and run the offense while still utilizing those physical skills.
I’m of the opinion that Nagy has picked this lane with Dalton because this is what he promised him in order to get him to sign with the Bears. Let’s not kid ourselves, Nagy is coaching for his Bears livelihood. He wants and needs support in the locker room and back tracking on a promise he made to his presumed starting QB early in the promise might erode some trust veterans might have with their head coach. He is also trying to head off any thought of a quarterback controversy in Chi-town with fans and media. I actually think it’s a mistake and could go the other way. Sometimes honesty is the best method.
I wonder how far he can go down this line of defense if Fields lights it up in preseason? At some point the baton will be passed into Fields hands. If I want to earn the trust of my players I have to be able to look them in the eye and say the best players are going to play, regardless of what I said six months ago. It seems ironic to me that Fields delivering hope to the franchise might be Nagy’s golden ticket going forward, if he has the guts to use that ticket.
In Jacksonville, new emperor and head coach Urban Meyer proclaimed he has a QB competition on his hands. Huh? The first pick in the draft competing with a former starter who has been benched twice in prior years. I think we all know, this is not a competition and the fact that Meyer felt the need to make this statement tells me that Meyer is still learning the ropes of the NFL in his first stint in the league after an accoladed college career. I have zero doubt that this contrived proclamation was received in his locker room with eye rolls and snickers. Coming on the heels of some questionable decisions that have been met with slight tilting of their collective heads this spring this is just another that tells me Meyer is still in full college mode.
In college, nothing happens without the stamp of the head coach. Meyer is used to proclaiming things before they are recognized to be true. The media and most fans can’t wait to hear “the ways of the program” from the leader. In professional football, some things are determined without anyone having to interject themselves in the process at all.
I think we all know that, the first pick in the draft, Trevor Lawrence will be the starter, if healthy, for the Jacksonville Jaguars come weekend after Labor Day. No proclamation needed.
In Philadelphia, rookie head Coach Nick Sirianni claims that they have a QB competition as well. I love Nick, I spent several seasons with him in San Diego where he was both our WR and QB coach. If anything, Nick might be a bit naïve, to a fault. But, if Jalen Hurts can’t beat out Joe Flacco then the Eagles have way bigger issues than anyone thinks.
My guess is that Eagle fans have seen plenty of Flacco over the last several years and are saying the same thing. Is Jalen Hurts a lock to be the future of the Eagles? Off course not but he’s a virtual lock to be the starter this year. Nick, like Nagy, may have told Flacco, in an effort to recruit him, that if he came to Philly that he’d have a chance to compete for the starting job. Naming Hurts, this early in the process might hurt Sirianni’s credibility with Flacco because of it, but these kinds of statements, as pure as they might be- also erode a coach’s credibility with others, outside the building.
All I’m saying is, we should examine the agendas of the voices at press conferences. There is usually a reason things get said and it may not make sense immediately. Coaches know who they are speaking too and sometimes these press conferences are no more than a messaging device to further their cause but it doesn’t keep me from shaking my head at times. ☺