Trent Dilfer has joined the chorus trashing the Oklahoma offense, in defense of Landry Jones. You can read the ESPN analyst’s tirade here.
The Sooner offense has its issues. But Dilfer is all wet in his criticism. He calls the OU offense “a joke” and “spitball,” which are strong and funny terms but don’t mean anything. Let’s look at what else he said:
* “The receivers are brutal.” Interesting. Then why did the NFL draft two of them, Kenny Stills and Justin Brown? And Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard and Trey Millard were Landry passcatchers, too. OU’s receivers weren’t close to brutal. Maybe they weren’t Mark Clayton, Mark Bradley, Travis Wilson and Brandon Jones, but if you can’t think of anything good to say about Landry Jones, don’t go blaming other players.
* “The playcalling is brutal.” Whole lot of people would sign that petition. I would say the gameplanning is a lot bigger issue. Keeping Millard on the bench for most of the game, like OU did against Kansas State, is a much bigger issue than whether to run or pass on 2nd-and-6.
* “They take him out in the red zone, they never let him get into a flow.” Oh brother. Here we go again. Same with George Whitfield Jr., Landry’s quarterback guru. You can criticize many things about OU football. Its success with the Belldozer is not one of them. Taking Landry Jones out of the game kept working. The Sooners scored with amazing efficiency in the red zone. The complaints of Dilfer smack of an NFL analyst who has forgotten that the OU offense’s job is not to showcase Landry Jones for pro scouts and television talking heads. The OU offense’s job is to score touchdowns. Whitfield could stand to remember that, too.
* “My final grade on Landry Jones is go back to 2011, he’s a high-ceiling guy.” 2011? Landry was not all that good in 2011. 2010 and 2012? Sure. He was a very productive quarterback. But in 2011, Landry struggled. Ryan Broyles got hurt and Landry was largely ineffective. Bedlam 2011 and the Insight Bowl against Iowa, that wasn’t a Belldozer-induced problem. That was just a problem. This was a homework problem for Dilfer.
* “The whole offense is built around getting flashy numbers and not scoring points.” Oh really? So Stoops puts Blake Bell in the game to keep from scoring touchdowns and to pad the flashy numbers, all of which would relate to Landry? It makes no sense.
Here’s the truth. I understand the way the NFL Draft works. Guys have to talk about every single player drafted, down into the high 100s and early 200s. You can run out of things to say pretty easily. You look for ways to defend Landry falling to the fourth round.
But talk straight. The truth is, Landry was a good quarterback who never achieved greatness. Maybe that’s a coaching issue. Very well could be. Maybe Landry didn’t get tutored by Josh Heupel the way Landry needed. I don’t know. Heupel didn’t hold back Sam Bradford, but that doesn’t mean Heupel couldn’t whiff on someone else. Some offensive flaws, not all of Landry’s own making, created the need for the Belldozer, which worked famously. In some of his biggest games — Notre Dame 2012, Kansas State 2012, Cotton Bowl — Landry did not play well.
Maybe Landry does have a high ceiling. Maybe this quarterback-system school doesn’t always pan out. But the Sooners scored a ton of points and won a bunch of games, and when they didn’t score TDs or win games, the play of the quarterback had much more to do with it than the play-calling.