Welcome to another rendition of “Positively Gruden,” where we chronicle the top cheers, compliments, and commendations from America’s favorite fawning former coach. This week’s Panthers-Dolphins matchup got off to fast start, with a flurry of frothy lather raining down upon the players like a case of Keurig machines hoisted from a third floor balcony. But as the Dolphins came out of the second half with all the energy of a sloth on Ambien wading through a field of molasses, there wasn’t much positivity on the back-end. Still, the game yielded an impressive 29 Grudenisms, featuring two of Gruden’s 2017 go-to taglines, “all-time greats” and “professional football player,” as well as a the typical [insert player] is the best in the league.
Gruden also tried to match CBS wunderkind, Tony Romo, in the prediction department by attempting to call the outcome of certain plays, and going so far as to bet Sean McDonough a hot dog that a ball would be kicked into the end zone. (It wasn’t.) But it’s good to see the old dog trying to pick up some new tricks from his competition. This is a copycat league, after all.
As always, Top Grudenisms are graded on a sliding scale of hyperbole, vivid imagery, and outright absurdity.
29. On the Panthers’ CBs, “They have responded. They’re playing like pro football players.”
28. “Is Christian McCaffrey a pro football player, or what?”
27. “Jonathan Stewart, who in spite of what anyone says is one heck of a professional running back.” (Ok, I think we’ve established these are professionals)
26. “No one has ever disputed Jay Cutler’s arm talent. He can hum it.”
25. On Ndamunkong Suh, “I admire his stamina. You’re out there 87% of snaps, you’re earning your money.”
24. On Luke Kuechly, “If you’re a young linebacker at home, come and watch this man play.”
23. “Once again, it’s Kuechly and Davis, six years they’ve been together, and are they fun to watch.”
22. “Miami is excited about Kenyan Drake. He is a man with finishing speed, and he can catch it.
21. “I like this left tackle, Matt Kalil. He’s very athletic. And when they run the toss play, they run it left, because he can pull. Kalil runs with ease, and he can seal the inside pursuit. And look at Jonathan Stewart walk the chalk. I love it.”
20. “Worley’s the best corner on this team. He’s gonna be there for a long time. I like him.”
19. On Shaq Thompson, “He is the perfect hybrid linebacker. You’ll see him tonight play inside LB, outside LB, and believe it or not, he’ll be the nickel back. He’ll cover Jarvis Landry and he won’t flinch. This man is extremely talented!”
18. On Jarvis Landry, “get that man the ball. He can play. Very physical wide receiver, unbelievable after the catch, and man can he block.”
17. “Watch number 22. How good is that? That’s unbelievable! There’s certain guys you study in the draft that you really like to coach, and Christian McCaffrey out of Stanford was one of those guys.”
16. More McCaffrey love, “Paul Horning award winner at Stanford. I personally think he should have won the Heisman trophy. He comes from great stock.”
15. On next week’s Seahawks-Falcons game, “Russell Wilson is scrambling unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”
14. After a Dolphins shovel pass for a TD, “This play is the rage of the NFL now. Everybody’s running shovel passes, I see it every week.”
13. On Greg Olsen, “I think he’s the best tight end in football, honestly. They had to replace about 13 jobs when they lost Olsen.”
12. With a non sequitur on Jonathan Stewart, “Over 100 yards. That man averaged 2.8 yards per carry coming into tonight’s game, and tonight he has solved ALL those statistical problems.”
11. “A lot of people love stats. But I remember when Dan Marino used to play here, they used to heave that ROCK.”
10. On the Marino-led Dolphins, “They didn’t throw bubble screens, they threw BOMBS….They had more explosive plays than any team in NFL history.”
9. “Cameron Wake, one of the all-time greats in Miami. Still going strong.”
8. “Julius Peppers, there he is. 37 years old. I get a stomach ache when I see Peppers in this place. What a player, what a sentimental piece to this Carolina football team. One of the all-time greats.”
7. “Peppers one of the all-time great Panthers, and Cam Newton, perhaps, THE all-time Panther. One of them.” (Huh?)
6. “I’ll bet you a hot dog at halftime that Graham Gano kicks this out of the end zone. Wanna bet, Sean?” (Gano kicks it short)
5. With an anti-prediction on the best NFC team, “that’s too early for me. I’m not gonna get involved 8 weeks, 9 weeks in.” After a Newton TD pass, “Look out. How about that throw? I’ll take Carolina.”
4. “When you play against Cam Newton, you have to have success early. Because if he starts feeling it and gets that vibe going, it’s over.” (Very true in this game.)
3. On Cam (O’)Newton, “He has a nose for the goal line. It’s almost like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, he sees it 7 yards away.”
2. And finally on Newton, “Everybody worries about the hits that he takes. Sometimes I worry about the hits he gives.”
1. “My favorite pass, the bubble screen. I love bubbles.”