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Jumbo Package: Day 2 of Gump Day

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Some fantastic quotes from Nick Saban and the upswing of QBs in the SEC

NCAA Football: SEC Media Days Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

With Erik off doing real-life work and important stuff, the rest of you get stuck with me doing the Jumbo Package two days in a row.

I googled “evil laugh gif,” and this is my favorite. Take that as you will.

Anyways, some Alabama links to get you through your work day:

2017 could mark new era for quarterback play in SEC

In 2016, for the second straight year, eight SEC teams completed fewer than 59 percent of their passes, while just two SEC teams -- Ole Miss (13th) and Missouri (20th) -- ranked in the top 25 nationally in passing. Nine SEC programs ranked 79th or worse in that category: Florida (79th), South Carolina (83rd), Alabama (87th), Mississippi State (89th), Georgia (97th), Vanderbilt (100th), LSU (101st), Kentucky (102nd) and Auburn (112th). A tenth, Tennessee, ranked 62nd -- narrowly finishing in the top half of FBS programs.

Ouch. On the bright side, I bet the SEC’s pass defense numbers looked pretty great last year. Always a silver lining, right?

This article expresses some optimism for the future of the SEC QBs. They expect Jalen Hurts, Nick Fitzgerald, Austin Allen, and Drew Lock all to build on their first seasons and become true threats at QB. And of course, Jarrett Stidham is going to win the Heisman over at Auburn.

I really like Drew Lock, and could see him taking the reigns in the SEC for Missouri this year. Allen has a lot of talent too, but has a little too much of a Brett Favre mentality too him without Favre’s magical luck. Fitzgerald and Hurts are very similar. Athletic playmakers with a strong reputation for leadership, but a bit on the inaccurate side with their throws.

53 former Alabama players reporting to NFL training camps

Alabama's training-camp roster includes eight defensive tackles, seven linebackers, six cornerbacks, six running backs, six wide receivers, five guards, four offensive tackles, three safeties, two centers, two defensive ends, one fullback, one long snapper, one quarterback and one tight end.

The Cincinnati Bengals and New York Giants have four former Alabama players apiece on their rosters. The Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins have three each.

Four teams don't have a former Alabama player on their rosters - Carolina Panthers, Cowboys, Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers.

53 Alabama players on rosters reporting to training camps. So we’re officially done with the “all Bama players are busts” now, right?

It’s surprising to me that the Panthers and Steelers both don’t have any Tide alumni. Both are teams with a reputation and identity of an aggressive and hard-hitting defense, which you would think would be a perfect fit for an Alabama defender.

How Nick Saban keeps his 'finger on the pulse' of Alabama

In a story he admitted he probably has never shared publicly, Saban shared a philosophy that he learned from legendary NFL head coach and coordinator Buddy Ryan. He said he used to visit Ryan when his “good friend” was the defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears, coaching what Saban called “the best defense in the history of ball, probably, in the ‘80s.”

When Ryan was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals and Saban was calling defensive plays for the Cleveland Browns, the now-Alabama coach paid Ryan another visit after he found out Ryan was losing his job in his final coaching stint with the Cardinals.

“I just asked him, I just said, ‘Buddy, what was different about being a coordinator and being a head coach?’” Saban said. “And not in an arrogant way, but this is a lesson that I always remembered, he said, ‘I was always somebody’s best assistant. I was Mike Ditka’s best assistant. I ran his defense and did a good job.’ He said, ‘But I wasn’t my best assistant when I was head coach.’

“That told me he didn’t play to his strengths to contribute to his own staff when he was a head coach. So, I’ve always tried to make sure that the things that I do, whether it was special teams or defense, that I impacted the most, and I didn’t go try to call plays on offense -- which I’ve never done since I was a high school quarterback -- to miss up our team. Even though I wanted to keep a pulse on exactly, philosophically, what we were doing.

“So, that’s kind of how I try to manage. I want to try to be the best assistant as I can be, and that comes from what your expertise was when you grew up in the profession.”

This is a cool soundbite from Saban in an interview he did with Wimp Sanderson. He’s expressing his hesitation on overruling and taking over the jobs of his coordinators, especially those on offense. He knows that, while a great head coach and secondary coach, his coordinators are more in tune with their jobs than he is, and having an ego about that would only hurt the team.

He also mentions in the interview that he always has a council of older players every year that he meets with regularly to try and understand the “pulse” of the team, which was a major factor in choosing Hurts as the starter last year. The entire team seemed to respond well and gravitate towards him.

Lastly, Saban makes one other comment that he doesn’t try to force players into a system or philosophy that doesn’t fit them, rather he wants to tweak his system to best fit and accentuate his players’ strengths.

It’s all just more little things that add up to what makes Saban such a legendary coach.

I’ll leave you with this little gem of #sportswriting

Our take: Alabama football is nervous about Auburn — and should be

I think Alabama is nervous about Auburn — and should be. The fact that Nick Saban stood up and overlooked the Tigers this early on tells me he’s already thinking about the Iron Bowl. I’m not sure that’s been the case in recent years. Malzahn also made it clear that this is one of his deepest teams since he’s been at Auburn. More importantly, the group gets along well. Genuine chemistry is difficult to develop, but it’s a huge part of why teams are able to upset programs like Alabama. The Tigers outplayed Alabama at times in Bryant-Denny last year, even though they suffered a double digit loss. But with the game being played in Jordan-Hare? It’s anyone’s game.

There’s really not much to say about this one. Just have fun laughing.