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Oklahoma football: J.C. Watts was ahead of his time

COMMENTARY — The 2012 NFL season and Super Bowl have left former Sooner great J.C. Watts wishing he'd been born later. "Had I been born (after) 1970, I'd be making a lot of money today, either coaching that read option or running it.”
by Berry Tramel Modified: February 5, 2013 at 7:51 pm •  Published: February 5, 2013

“I don't think there's room for a running quarterback in the National Football League,” Watts said. “But a mobile quarterback … Michael Vick was a running quarterback, Vince Young was a running quarterback.

“But Russell Wilson, Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, those guys have given you the confidence, they can sit back in the pocket and read defenses and move around and buy a little time, and they're looking to throw it, not necessarily to run it.”

Actually, Griffin and Kaepernick in particular sometimes do look to run it. And the field is so spread, it's hard for defenses to get a clean shot at them.

“We're seeing it creep more and more into National Football Leagues offenses,” Watts said. “I still don't think you're going to see a Colin Kaepernick or Robert Griffin III or Russell Wilson running for 1,500 yards. But I think their sweet spot's going to be 500, 600 yards a year, and at the end of the season, when you've seen a quarterback that can do that, and can throw the ball the way those guys can, that's going to present some challenges for defenses.”

A bunch of famed NFL quarterbacks got their start in Canada. Warren Moon, Jeff Garcia, Joe Theismann, Joe Kapp.

Watts had a strong arm but not overly accurate. In Canada, Watts completed 53 percent of his passes, with more interceptions than touchdowns, though that wasn't a high crime in the 1980s.

At OU, Watts completed just 44.2 percent, with eight TD passes and 19 interceptions. But he was coached to pitch, not pass. Coached to read defensive ends, not defensive backs. He had a good arm but poor mechanics.

Put J.C. Watts' skill set in a quarterback today, have him throwing the ball over the place by the time he was 15 years old, and he would be the perfect OU quarterback. Just like he was 33 years ago. Only this time, Watts might not have to cross the border to keep playing ball.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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