Ryan Mallett speaks; T.J. Carpenter calls him “great Arkansas QB ever;” monkey confused

January 20, 2011

Greatest Arkansas quarterback ever? I don’t know, and it’s hard to compare across eras, but my generational bias would place him behind Joe Ferguson. But Ryan Mallett has the records and a cannon. While I don’t see him automatically becoming a quality pro — I think his apparent lack of mobility is a big issue — there’s no doubt he’s got better physical tools than a lot of guys playing the position at the next level but for once I think there’s something to the old coaches’ superstitions — a quarterback does have to have some kind of intrinsic leadership quality to be genuinely effective. There are lots of physical specimens who can’t play a lick.

And I’ve heard all (or at least some) of the stories about Mallett’s character too. And while I think some sports writers and sports talkers disingenuously dimiss the smoke surrounding “our” quarterback, I sort of believe most people, if granted celebrity immunity, would act like jackasses. I mean he’s a kid who’s had grown men (and women) treating him like a pasha since he was in middle school. I’m not about to get all worked up because he’s got an overdeveloiped sense of entitlement.

Most of us need to grow up —no matter what our age. So far as I know Mallett is no worse a human being than your typical male undergraduate college student, and he has gifts that make him a potential first round draft choice. I just hope that whoever drafts him gives him a chance to mature — young quarterbacks used to be allowed five years (or more) to develop; now the relative success of players like Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and Sam Bradford has raised expectations for first and second year players.

But I remember how Terry Bradshaw stunk when he first came to the Steelers. (He even lost his job to Joe Gilliam for a time in 1974 — the season that culminated in the the Steeler’s first Super Bowl victory.)

How good was John Elway his first three years? Not very. Troy Aikman threw 36 interceptions his first two years —against 20 touchdowns. Roger Staubach didn’t become a full-time starter until he was 31 years old. Even Peyton Manning, who seemed to have sprung from the head of Zeus full growed and armed, threw more interceptions (28) than touchdowns (26) his rookie season.

Given this, I’m not sure I wouldn’t rather have Matt Leinert than Ryan Mallett right now. Or Vince Young.

But you know, I hope he does well. It’s just that quarterbacks are like pitchers — you really never know how physical aptitude is going to translate in a game situation. Or as Mike Tyson once put it, “Everybody has a plan until they get hit in the mouth.”

(Oh, and the link above is from T.J. Carpenter‘s show, via Arkansas Sports 360. And here’s a link to a similiar Mallet interview on Bo Mattingly’s program.


  • Comment by blind willie mctell — Jan 20,2011 at 4:07 pm

    What’s this “leadership” question all about? Petrino says he was an excellent leader (a captain both years). What is the basis for thinking otherwise? I bet he is mobile enough to beat Big Ben in a one on one basketball session. He will be a very good pro.

  • Comment by tmfw — Jan 20,2011 at 4:53 pm

    Hard to say. There is no doubt that the young man has a rocket launcher for an arm. But so does JaMarcus Russell. So did Jeff George and Ryan Leaf. The ability to throw a football through a car wash without getting it wet is of limited utility. Mallett’s a thrower and not a passer. He seems to be a good kid. But he seems to me to not be particularly athletic for such an accomplished quarterback. As one of his teammates said of him “He looks like a stork when he tries to run.” He holds on the ball too long, tries to fit the ball into a keyhole at times and unlike Big Ben seemed pretty easy to take down. One caller to Bo’s show yesterday said that Mallett was the 2nd coming of Ryan Leaf. Leaf was a massive head case. I don’t believe Mallett has snakes in his head as Leaf did. But I do think he’s a work in progress.

  • Comment by Uncleredeye — Jan 22,2011 at 4:08 pm

    I think I’ll just hide and watch and then tell y’all what I thought in a couple of years.

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