Jon Gruden: 'Stop this, or football will never be the same'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday March 27, 2013

Posted by: Chris Vannini on March 27, 2013

The story of the 2012-13 NFL season was the zone read and young dual-threat quarterbacks tearing up some defenses.

The adjustments have already begun, as Dabo Swinney said the Atlanta Falcons came by to learn about it.

Jon Gruden's QB Camp is normally about - surprise - quarterbacks. But he held a special session with former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, and the zone read was a topic. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks joined the session as Gruden told a story about the zone read.

"I've got to tell Manti this story," Gruden said. "We're playing the Atlanta Falcons one year in Atlanta. They put Michael Vick in the shotgun. They put Warrick Dunn offset. They stick the ball in his chest, and this left tackle came in and got my great inside linebacker. They zone block this thing. My friend (defensive end) Greg Spires, he was trained, when the tackle blocked down, what would he do? Crash. Michael Vick kept the ball. He came running around the end. He did it about four times. After the fourth time, the PA announcer said, 'The Atlanta Falcons have broken the franchise record for rushing.'

"So we're talking about the zone read. We've got to stop this play, or football is never going to be the same. This is what I know about the zone read, shotgun, offset back. The quarterback is always coming out to the side of the back. If you're a linebacker, you'd better be ready to fall back and block two gaps. But you have to understand the symptoms of a zone read. They have a specific kind of quarterback, they have a shotgun with an offset back. Derrick never got that coaching from me on the sideline. All he got was, 'Golly, Michael Vick is fast. The son of a bitch is killing us!'

"But the zone read is a problem when you play Carolina (with Cam Newton). Be on a mission here. Forget about the 40-yard dash and the cone drill for a second. Finding the ball, solving the problems and being relentless man, like you were at Notre Dame. If you don't have the specific answers, get them. Be on a mission to get the answers.

"I'd rather have a guy run a 4.82 that knows where he's running than a 4.3 who doesn't know where the hell the ball is. The mentality of the linebacker this week, playing against this kind of guy? 'God dang, we have to get answers.'"

Gruden's camp is always an interesting thing to watch. You know Gruden's reaction to the zone read was a common one in the NFL last season.

Below is a clip from the session.



Chris Vannini is the lead writer for and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to

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