clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jumbo Package: It’s Gump Day!

Coming to you from within friendly territory again

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NCAA Football: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl-Alabama vs Washington Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

For the last 34 of a year since leaving the friendly confines of Tuscaloosa, I’ve been writing to you all from just across the state line in west Georgia, only mere miles from being in the heart of cow country.

Now, the Wednesday Jumbo Package is coming to you guys from the Baldwin County area. It’s not any closer to Tuscaloosa, but at least I’m now away from the Barn and all the tractor crossings and #fambly cult rituals chants that permeated the area.

AJ McCarron a better trade target than Garoppolo?

One point in McCarron's favor? Because he spent the majority of his rookie season on the non-football injury (NFI) list, he won't reach unrestricted free agency for two more years. Garoppolo's rookie contract, on the other hand, expires after next season.

If the Patriots set an exorbitant price tag for Garoppolo, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported earlier this month, a franchise such as the Browns might explore McCarron as a fallback option. Cleveland coach Hue Jackson oversaw the former Alabama star's development in Cincinnati and called plays when McCarron stood in for an injured Dalton to close out the 2015 season.

Over that five-game span, McCarron completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 1,044 yards (6.7 YPA) with a 7:3 TD-to-INT ratio and an 89.8 passer rating. NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks has noted that scouts were impressed with his poise in the pocket as well as his ability to make "big boy" throws between the numbers at intermediate range.

McCarron has been the source of trade rumors for the last couple of years. QBs are always in short supply in the NFL, and he’s one of the few backups in the league that actually has shown some ability and promise as a starter while sitting behind the entrenched Andy Dalton.

Marvin Lewis has expressed his hesitation to trade McCarron in the past, as he’s pretty content to be one of the few teams in the NFL to have both a solid starter and a competent backup at QB.

As we all know, though, the 2nd team quarterback is always the best player on the team, so don’t be surprised to see some other team (read: Cleveland Browns) offer way too much for a QB that they don’t know will be successful.

Nick Saban talks leadership with Mark Zuckerberg, 'the Facebook guy'

Zuckerberg, he said, was aware of the role of football in the state. "It was kind of interesting that he saw the spirit that we have in this state relative to supporting athletics as something that is very special, very unique, and very wholesome in terms of people having the opportunity to create hope whether it's in competition, or something they believe in or a spirit,'' Saban said.

In a Facebook post this afternoon, Zuckerberg wrote about his visit with Saban and several Alabama players.

"Many of the same things go into building a good company and a winning football program -- a focus on recruiting, developing talent and setting high expectations," he wrote.

"We all need to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Communities can form around all kinds of things -- churches, schools, teams -- and it's clear that for a lot of folks in Alabama, college football is an important part of their community."

Many of you probably already saw the pictures and headlines of Zuckerberg visiting the state the last couple of days, making appearances in areas like Mobile and Selma.

When I tell many of my friends from other areas of the country about how college football is really a way of life here, they often can’t even comprehend what that means until they’ve been immersed in the culture for a while. Most small talk conversations will end up being about Alabama/Auburn football in some form or another, and even just mentioning my degree from Alabama will often spark an entire work place argument/banter for the next 10 minutes.

DeMeco Ryans joins NFL coaching staff

Former Alabama All-American and NFL Pro Bowler DeMeco Ryans has joined the coaching staff of the San Francisco 49ers.

The 49ers announced on Tuesday afternoon that Ryans had joined the staff of new coach Kyle Shanahan as a defensive quality control assistant. It's Ryans' first position on an NFL coaching staff.

Good for DeMeco! He was quietly one of the best linebackers to have ever worn a Tide uniform, and quietly had a long and successful NFL career. It was never driven by sheer athleticism or pure talent, but great knowledge of the game and field awareness. Only shortly removed from being an NFL starter, Ryans will now look to try his chops at coaching in a relatively low-responsiblity position. If I had to guess, it won’t be long and he will be one to rise up the ranks in the coaching world.

Forristall learns from O.J. Howard, whom he will try to replace

With a pair of new coaching hires being made official Monday, Forristall could also benefit from the additions of offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and tight ends coach Joe Pannunzio. Both have extensive experience coaching tight ends, which could possibly lead to more targets for the guys on the end of the line of scrimmage, and Saban has wanted to see that, too.

Having another receiving tight end that has shown he can also block shouldn’t change the head coach’s mind about getting the tight end position more involved in the passing game, especially when the passing game will be a major focus this offseason.

“Miller’s a very athletic guy,” Saban said during the season. “We try to use him as sort of a quasi receiver / H-back / tight end-type guy. Because he’s a very athletic guy, he does a good job in perimeter blocking and is a very good receiver. I think he’s improved in both of those areas since he’s been here

247 put together a pretty good article with quotes from Tide players about Miller Forristall. Coming out of high school, many didn’t know what to think of the 6’6” guy that was a bit more athletic than you’d expect from someone who had been a QB up until his senior year.

However, his performance in the A-day game last spring after enrolling early really caught my eye, showing he could be a safety valve receiver who makes tough catches across the middle and in traffic. He (like the other tight ends in the Lane Kiffin offense) was rarely targeted in his freshman year, but he did log playing time in 15 games, averaging over 14 yards per reception. With Howard leaving for the NFL and the new offensive coordinator being a former TE coach for the New England Patriots, I wouldn’t be surprised if this year is a huge breakout season for Forristall.

That’s really about it for today. We’re in that point of the year between National Signing Day and the NFL Combine where there is next to nothing happening in the football world unless it’s someone getting arrested. Lets hope Alabama continues to stay out of the news in that regard.

Roll Tide!