QB Coach Says Gus Malzahn Offense Hurting Jarrett Stidham in the NFL

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Jarrett Stidham was a fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and the expectations for those drafted on Day 3 aren’t that high. Sure, there are the occasional Dak Prescott, Tom Brady or Tony Romo, but those are outliers.

Sometimes it’s OK to ask why a particular guy was available on Day 3 though.

From a physical standpoint, Stidham should’ve gone higher. He has the size (6-foot-3, 215), a strong enough arm and impressive mobility. There were concerns about his ability to elevate his game in crunch-time moments, but the raw tools were — and are — there.

So why did he fall, and why is he struggling to take the next step in his development?

Obviously, Stidham is partly to blame, as are the New England Patriots, the team that drafted him. But according to individual quarterback coach Jordan Palmer, former Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn is the real culprit — or at least his offensive system is.

He also mentioned the Art Briles offense at Baylor, where the five-star Stidham originally started his college career.

Palmer recently made an appearance on “Tom Curran’s Patriots Talk” podcast, and the point about Stidham stands out.

“Jarrett had as far to go mentally in terms of what he knew — not in terms of intelligence, in terms of what he knew about football — he had as far to go between college and pro as anybody I ever worked with,” Palmer said, via AL.com. “People don’t know this. Art Briles’ offense (at Baylor), basically nothing in it would help you play in the NFL. The way you read defenses, the way you go through — I’m not saying it wasn’t prolific at Baylor. He took a team out of Waco, Texas, and made them a top 10 team — but none of it translates.

“Gus Malzahn’s offense at Auburn, I think, is even further from the NFL than Art Briles’. In Gus Malzahn’s offense, they don’t even call the receivers – they’re not even letters; they’re numbers. There’s a one man, a five man, a seven man, a three man. And this isn’t an indictment on his offense. He won a national championship with Cam Newton. I’m just saying what they expect you to know on offense at Auburn is the furthest thing from NFL offenses.

“Then I think the Patriots’ offense is the most complex, and he was the 2 his rookie year, like a play away, so the gap he had to make up mentally is the most significant gap that I’ve seen. Out of anybody that I’ve trained for the NFL Draft — I’ve trained over 35 guys and 10 of them started as rookies, so I do this every year — I’ve never seen a gap like that. You’d love to think, ‘Well, he had all offseason.’ Well, you don’t learn it all in an offseason. You’re not walking through things in the offseason. This guy watches as much tape as anybody. He studies as much as anybody. So it’s not just what you all see, Pats Nation, in the game. There are things that lead up to that.”

Is there some truth in that? Probably, but let’s not act like Palmer has no ulterior motive here. Palmer has been working with Stidham for years now. Think about who could possibly be at fault for the Auburn quarterback’s lack of progress.

Palmer could blame the Patriots, but that’s Stidham’s current team. That obviously wouldn’t be a good look, and it certainly wouldn’t do Stidham any favors. He could blame Stidham, but that’s his guy. He’s certainly not going to make it his fault.

Palmer could also blame himself. Stidham has been his QB coach for years now with little progress. Do we expect Palmer to blame himself though? Absolutely not. So who is left? Well, the party Palmer is blaming: Stidham’s college coach.

Malzahn is the easy target.

Now, this isn’t me saying Malzahn isn’t to blame. In fact, a lack of proper quarterback development helped get Malzahn fired. Another five-star talent Bo Nix didn’t make any progress in Year 2 down on The Plains. Jeremy Johnson never panned out either, even after he was labeled the savior in 2015 because of one performance against Arkansas the season before. In other words, Malzahn and his staff are certainly part of the problem.

The point is they aren’t the only factor here, and Palmer knows that. It’s not like his answer was unexpected though.

However, despite all the negative talk, Palmer is high on his quarterback going into Year 3.

“I’m really positive on him this coming season,” Palmer said, “because he’s been in this system with (Patriots offense coordinator) Josh McDaniels for a few years now. He’s healthy, he’s in a good spot, and it’s time.”

We’ll see if that extra time away from Malzahn helps.

Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.

Written by Clint Lamb

Clint Lamb is a College Football Writer for OutKick. Managing Editor for Roll Tide Wire. Sports radio host for The Bullpen on 730/103.9 The UMP. Co-host for The 'Bama Beat podcast through The Tuscaloosa News and TideSports.com.


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  1. So blame Gus who also had Cam who certainly is a better talent than Stidham who also plays on the same team and admittedly struggled in his first year in the NE system.


    I’m no fan of Gus, I get it, but neither Stidham nor Cam are Tom Brady and that’s what this coach had to deal with before not Brady. So blaming Gus is easier to sell than it is to buy.

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