BOZICH | Sports Illustrated's confusing, contradictory takes on Louisville QB Lamar Jackson
About seven months after Sports Illustrated quoted an anonymous coach saying Clemson's Deshaun Watson was a better quarterback than Lamar Jackson, SI changed directions this week.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Sports Illustrated is a Lamar Jackson basher.
Sports Illustrated is a Lamar Jackson believer.
Sports Illustrated can’t make up its mind.
All of the above are true.
The last five days have been a dazzling snapshot into what kind of media season this will be for Jackson, the Louisville quarterback as well as the 2016 winner of the Heisman Trophy.
On Saturday, during an extended media availability, Jackson said he wondered if Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson was the anonymous coach who questioned Jackson’s ability and chances to succeed as an NFL quarterback in an SI story last winter.
In case you missed that story, written by Pete Thamel, here is the link. The piece actually focused on Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, but it made a bizarre left turn with several paragraphs devoted to analyzing Jackson's future.
According to SI, one coach who faced both players last season (there were five) said this: “Watson has a chance to be at least as good as (former Florida State quarterback Jameis) Winston. We played he and Lamar Jackson, and Jackson has no shot at playing quarterback in the NFL. None. He can’t make the throws and can’t read coverages. He’s not going to have a chance. Watson stands tall in the pocket and whips the ball around like (Pittsburgh QB) Ben Roethlisberger.”
No shot in a league that employs Blake Bortles, Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton?
It seemed an unduly harsh knock on a guy who wasn’t the main focus of the story. If that anonymous coach was a king-sized believer in Watson, great. But was it necessary to torch Jackson, who has at least one more season to prove his NFL worthiness?
I think not.
Fast forward to Wednesday morning. I downloaded the latest issue of Sports Illustrated, the 2017 college football preview issue, the one that projects U of L Number 14 in its national rankings. The magazine found a different anonymous coach – and this one likes Lamar Jackson better than – wait for it -- Deshaun Watson.
Here is what SI calls a take from an opposing coach:
“That guy (6’ 3”, 211-pound junior quarterback) Lamar Jackson is a stud. I like him better than (Clemson’s) Deshaun Watson last year. Jackson has a stronger arm. He’s not as steady a guy as Watson was, but it’s not even close athletically. Watson could get 20 yards on a run; with Jackson, he’s gone. You can have him penned in, and he’ll make three guys miss, outrun your whole defense and pick up the first down. He needs to run well because their O-line is below average.”
Hmmmm. Sports Illustrated changed direction quicker than Jackson.
Which anonymous coach should we believe? Who are these anonymous coaches?
As I said, five competed against both guys last season: Clawson; Jimbo Fisher of Florida State; Dave Doeren of North Carolina State; Dino Babers of Syracuse and Steve Addazio of Boston College.
Jackson suspected Clawson, who denied that he was the anonymous coach quoted by Thamel.
So if you’re scoring at home, it looks like this:
Deshaun Watson > Lamar Jackson, according to Anonymous Coach Number One.
Lamar Jackson > Deshaun Jackson, according to Anonymous Coach Number Two.
Now we need the three others who coached against Watson and Jackson to deliver their anonymous analysis and break the tie.
I’ll be waiting.
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