Ron Jaworski played quarterback in the NFL for 17 years, most notably helping the Eagles get to Super Bowl XV in 1980. He then became a prolific broadcaster, featured on Monday Night Football and NFL Matchup, among other shows.
We caught up with Jaworski for this week’s Friday Five…
Who is your biggest mentor?
That’s pretty simple: Dick Vermeil. I couldn’t be happier that Dick Vermeil is now going into the Hall of Fame. I can’t think of a more deserving coach. Our relationship goes back to 1973, when he was a running backs coach with the L.A. Rams. That was my rookie year, before coach took the job with UCLA. I got to know him at a young age. He taught me not only about playing the game of football but the game of life. And when he became my coach in Philadelphia, he worked me hard, but he made me better. If there’s a guy that I have utmost respect for, it’s Dick Vermeil.
You do so much film study, have you seen any trends that jump out at you heading into the 2021 season?
It was crystal clear to me me last year that this is becoming a wide open, run-and-gun style of offense. You just look at teams coming out with 3-, 4- and even 5-wide – aggressively attacking defenses. Forcing defenses to play their fourth, fifth and even sixth-best cornerbacks and getting matchups on wide receivers. I’ve always been a believer – and this is going back to my formative years learning from Hall of Famer Sid Gillmam — that this is a game of matchups. How do you create favorable matchups for your offense? What I’m seeing now from an offensive standpoint is teams using multiple wide receiver sets and putting an incredible amount of pressure on defenses.
With the proliferation of dual-threat quarterbacks, what do you see defenses doing to combat this?
Must rush! Pretty simple. Stay in your lane, just collapse the pocket on the quarterback. There’s the feeling that the game is now loaded with these run-around quarterbacks, the Lamar Jackson kind of players – those are unique players. When you go through the season, you see the teams that have the most consistent success are those that make plays from the pocket with the quarterback. It’s great to have those designed bootlegs, and Patrick Mahomes is the perfect example of that, and Andy Reid does a great job with creativity, but when you look at 65-70 snaps a game, what gives you your best chance of winning – I’ve always been a believer that the Tom Brady’s of the world, that stay in that pocket and deliver the ball in time and in rhythm with the receivers, are the ones that usually have the most success. Now there are always aberrations. There’s always going to be the outlier that is doing something different, but from a percentage standpoint, I would say the teams that have the best chance at success are the teams that play the quarterback from the pocket first. I love the mobile quarterback, but I’ve also come to realize that you take the running opportunities when they present themselves. Don’t try to create them.
What team do you think will surprise people in 2021?
The Minnesota Vikings. They had a lot of injuries last year on defense. Rookie receiver Justin Jefferson had a phenomenal season. Running back Dalvin Cook is as good as they come. I think Kirk Cousins is an underrated quarterback. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves. As I look at that team, if that offensive line comes to the party, I think they’re going to be a surprise team.
If you could have dinner with any three people in history, who would they be and why?
Outside of my famiy and dear friends, I ‘d say Tiger Woods. I’ve been a golf fanatic and always enjoyed the way he played the game of golf. Michael Jordan. Michael played the game the same way — hated to lose, just like Tigers Woods did. The way those guys played with heart, they would be one and two. And I’ve always been intrigued wth politics, so I would love to have someone from the political side. I’ll go with Barack Obama.
Check out all of our Friday Five features — including Troy Aikman, Adam Schefter, Andrea Kremer and more — in the Friday Five archive.