I am still shaking my head in disbelief. Did I really just hear what I thought I heard from the sportscaster on the NFL Network? What he uttered supports quotes in the press recently about other Oregon players in the NFL, and could change the Oregon image in the media. It is in direct conflict to the narrative the national press and fans of opposing teams have been presenting for years about Our Beloved Ducks, and I am still wrapping my head around it. Are you surprised too?
Let me set the stage: it is Sunday evening and I found Sunday Highlights by the NFL Network in my cable lineup. The review of games proceeds and then they get to the Chargers game and the conversation is about how Justin Herbert again played well (with some rookie mistakes) and threw some superb passes. Then the announcer describes a play where Herbert goes back to pass….
“Look at the hit he takes … look like he’s banged up … but he’s tough, he’s strong, he’s OREGON STRONG!“
And he was emphatic; the last two words came out loud from him and I had to rewind it several times as I did not believe what I heard. First to confirm the quote, to truly absorb what I just heard and to ponder the ramifications, and finally to capture the quote for you. Oregon players, offenses and defenses were not called “tough” or “strong” over the years of our time residing in the top 10. Instead, we have been denigrated as being “finesse” or “soft” or “not physical” with our Zone-Read, Spread Offense.
As we know, part of that was due to the explosion of Oregon in the media with the uniforms, resurrecting the No-Huddle attack from the NFL of the 1990s, and the interesting story of a coach from New Hampshire storming the stage with the use of the Zone-Read Spread Offense. All of those reasons have been copied or taken from Oregon, and certainly part of that story is how the culmination of those components together created a “soft” offense for the Ducks.
Time has proven otherwise; recent national champions have adopted all of the above over the course of the years, and the same concepts have now crept into the NFL. Imagine my surprise to see San Francisco 49ers run the Outside Zone Read the way Oregon did a decade ago! Or how I sat in stunned silence as I saw the Las Vegas Raiders run a Sweep Read as I described in my video back in 2011, or watched Cam Newton run the Inverted Veer play for the New England Patriots that he ran against Oregon in the ‘Natty of 2010. It turns out that all were enduring tenets of football…
Of course this website and Mr. FishDuck worked hard to overcome the “finesse” label attached to Oregon, with analysis articles like this which helped to assuage the fans, but not the national media. Later yours-truly published this article that was factual, with a concluding sentence that was brutal to the press, who continued pushing these misconceptions about Our Beloved Ducks. It seemed it would never end!
Then the quote about Herbert before a national audience happened, and it was not the only one. Shane Lemieux was getting great reviews at the NY Giants camp as NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah reported that “his play style is Mauler-Brawler. He’s gonna latch his hands, he’s gonna drive you, and he’s gonna finish you. He has that nastiness to him which I love.”
Whoa. Now that is how you overcome a national perception, my friends. We can thank Coach Mario Cristobal for instilling that toughness, that new culture, but also for articulating it often to the media, who after a couple of years are coming around to recognize and embrace it. Yet another thing to thank Coach Cristobal and Coach Aaron Feld for installing at Oregon as the impact on recruiting and future successes will surely result from this major paradigm change in Eugene.
“Oh how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
Top Photo from NFL Network Video
Bob Rodes, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is an IT analyst, software developer and amateur classical pianist in Manchester, Tennessee.
Charles Fischer has been an intense fan of the Ducks, a season ticket holder at Autzen Stadium for 33 years and has written reports on football boards for over 23 years. Known as “FishDuck” on those boards, he is acknowledged for providing intense detail in his scrimmage reports and in his Xs and Os play analyses. He and his wife Lois, have a daughter Christine, reside in Eugene Oregon, where he was a Financial Advisor for 36 years and now focuses full-time on Charitable Planned Giving Workshops for churches and non-profit organizations.
He does not profess to be a coach or analyst, but simply a “hack” that enjoys sharing what he has learned and invites others to correct or add to this body of Oregon Football! See More…
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