Positively Gruden, Preseason Week 2: Marquee QB Matchup
There’s nothing like a marquee Monday Night quarterback matchup to get you through the doldrums of the preseason. So, as I settled in with my customary sixer of Doritos Locos tacos and two-liter of Mr. Pibb in advance of the MNF Eagles-Patriots battle, I couldn’t have been more excited. That is, until I learned that, apparently the entire first-string Patriots had decided to take the night off. Oh well, at least there was Michael Vick to watch. Oh wait, never mind, Vick went out in the first quarter with a rib injury (where have we heard that one before?)
However, just as I was starting to feel down (and with a nasty stomach ache to boot), Jon “This Kid” Gruden was there to pick me right up. Because apparently, in Ryan Mallett and Nick Foles, I was about to be treated to two of the finest preseason back-up QB performances since Sid Luckman took on Sammy Baugh in that classic 1935 preseason game at Wrigley Field. Combined with Andy Reid’s extensive playbook, which measures in greater volume than the entire works of Stephen King, I was in for quite a night.
Suffice to say, it was another night of ridiculous absurdities for the coach, as he constantly turned no-name back-ups into future Hall-of-Famers at nearly every turn. Cmon Man! (to steal a phrase, it’s only Week 2 of the Preseason. At the rate he’s going, there’s a strong likelihood Gruden will morph into Meg Ryan from “When Harry Met Sally” (the diner scene) by the time the regular season rolls around.
Without further ado, here’s my list of top 10 Grudenisms from the big game. As always, Grudenisms are graded on multiple factors, including: (a) degree of hyperbole; (b) use of vivid imagery; and (c) outright absurdity.
10. On Ryan Mallett’s gun show, “I call this kid the rifleman. He can hunt.”
9. Already overusing his new catchphrase, “I really think THIS KID, Koppen has been a key member of these championship teams.” (This kid, Dan Koppen is 32.)
8. “Look at that throw. That’s a back shoulder throw to Deion Branch, that’s unbelievable! These two young QBs [Ryan Mallett and Nick Foles] have CANNONS.” (Note: Gruden literally had 15 statements to this effect at various times during the game)
7. “I can’t tell you how impressed I am with Nick Foles. And we said it earlier, he was one of the toughest kids we were studying at Arizona. There were games that he was all they had. This is one tough customer.”
6. On Brandon Lloyd’s penchant for circus catches, “I call him the new and improved friendly neighborhood Spiderman.”
5. “Phillip Hunt, the blue bomber, coming off the left side…Great start for the young kid out of Canada….man, I love Philip Hunt. He’s slippery.” (when wet?)
4. Channeling his inner Tony Kornheiser, “He reminds me of Barry Sanders. Fantasy football fans, go get LeSean McCoy!”
3. On ESPN’s new officiating guru (a Mike Pereira wannabe), “Gerry Austin, he trained me well, Mike. I’ve had a great offseason studying these rules. You hang around Gerry Austin, you’re gonna get better…at learning the rules.”
2. “Let me show you this doggone Andy Reid, he goes back to the land of 1992. Look at Avant right there, this is Red-Left-Switch-Z-Right-Sprint-Right-G-Corner- Halfback-Flat. Mike Holmgren taught Andy Reid, Jon Gruden, and Steve Mariucci in a dark room in Green Bay and it STILL WORKS! Andy Reid has more plays in his playbook than probably any coach ever.”
1. On the replacement refs: “They’re doing the best they can.”