- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Later that night at Jones's hotel in La Jolla, Whitfield drills his pupil on plays for the upcoming Senior Bowl. Coaches from the Detroit Lions are in charge of Jones's team, and they have sent a package of about 60 plays. Jones, Whitfield and McEntee have spent the previous two nights studying and drawing routes on a dry-erase board. Jones aces the test, missing only one variation on three different plays and reciting the rest flawlessly. As the sun sinks into the Pacific outside the meeting room, Whitfield asks Jones if he needs more help. Not tonight, Jones says. His wife, Whitney, has just arrived. "It's date night, playa," Jones says.
Four days later in Mobile, Jones and Glennon take part in their first Senior Bowl practices. While Glennon forces passes into coverage, Jones wows scouts: "Oklahoma product Landry Jones had the best day of all the quarterbacks," former scout Daniel Jeremiah writes at NFL.com. "He has outstanding arm talent and moved around better in the pocket than he did on tape from the fall."
This is precisely what Jones had asked Whitfield to help him improve. In a year when West Virginia's Geno Smith is the presumptive No. 1 quarterback but no one truly jumps out as a draft-day lock, such a public show of improvement can be worth significant money. "Pocket presence, moving in the pocket," Jones says. "George is always talking about being explosive and keeping everything as quick and as tight as possible."
Actually, Whitfield would tell Jones to "cut grass" (brush his cleats along the turf to maintain proper footing), then get in a "home run stance" (bend the knees, allowing the thighs to generate power) while "buckling the ball" (holding it by the collarbone nearest the throwing arm). Then he'd tell him to "flash" (turn his nonthrowing shoulder toward the target), use his "GPS" (his left foot, which should point to where the ball will travel) and "cast the fishing line" (throw).
Whitfield can take a quarterback whose first instinct is to run—Newton or Manziel, for example—and teach him to stay comfortable in the pocket. Or he can take a player such as Jones, who prefers to set and throw, and teach him to throw on the move. Whatever a quarterback needs to survive in today's game, the Colts' Hamilton says, Whitfield can find a way to teach it.
"He's a Jedi," Hamilton says.