Alabama Football: Old Reputations Die Hard

Walter KirkwoodAnalyst IAugust 25, 2011

NY Jets Quarterback Greg McElroy
NY Jets Quarterback Greg McElroy

This is the 21st century.  We have Internet on our cell phones, flat panel TVs on the wall and Bear Bryant has been dead for nearly three decades, but Alabama recruits are still told Alabama is not a school for wide receivers. 

So, how does perception stack up to reality?

It takes only a few moments on the Internet to look up last seasons stats.  In a season in which Alabama finished in the middle of the pack in the SEC, they ranked third overall in passing yardage.  Only Arkansas and Kentucky passed for more yards.

Traditionally, pass-happy Florida was seventh.  LSU finished ninth.  Even Tennessee which spent most of the season playing while behind was behind Alabama.

The 2011 NFL season will likely begin with the last three starting Alabama quarterbacks employed.

Brody Croyle needed to land in the right place to have a shot in the NFL, and he landed in the worst possible place. 

The Kansas City Chiefs were as bad as any team in the league and had what was considered to be the worst offensive line in pro football.  Every time he entered the game, he was brutalized and his slender body couldn't handle it.  He was cut this summer.

Atlanta Falcon John Parker Wilson
Atlanta Falcon John Parker Wilson

There is little doubt that under the right circumstances Brody Croyle could flourish. His next opportunity begins this week with the Arizona Cardinals who have no bankable starter.  

He will be behind Kevin Kolb, but an injury there could give him a better chance than any he had in Kansas City.

Croyle's replacement at Alabama John Parker Wilson surprised many by beating out former college stars to win the third team job in Altanta.  He finished both the 2009 and 2010 seasons as the No. 3. 

In 2010, he came close to winning the No. 2 job from Chris Redmon and looked close to taking that job this fall but a concussion has set him back.  The jury remains out on where he will finish this season.  Prior to his concussion, he was playing very well.

Many did not think Alabama's Greg McElroy would make a team, but he got a shot at playing time in the last two weeks of preseason after No. 2 man Mark Brunell was injured.  

All McElroy did was lead the NFL in rookie passer rating.  At this point, the Jets must be giggling that they got McElroy in the seventh round.

While McElroy will likely being the season as the No. 3 guy his performance indicates the Jets may not hesitate to elevate him to No. 2. 

Altanta Falcon Julio Jones
Altanta Falcon Julio Jones

Greg is like a snake. He will lay in that grass and when his opportunity to strike comes. Good luck getting him out from behind center. 

Also in Atlanta is Julio Jones.  The first-round draft pick has done nothing but impress in preseason, and he appears to be an NFL star waiting to happen.  Last season, Jones was the second leading receiver in the SEC after Alshon Jeffery.

Alabama currently has two quarterbacks who in theory have as much or more passing ability than any of the recent quarterbacks at Alabama with the possible exception of Croyle.

While it is true that any SEC team that has eyes set on championships needs to be able to run the ball, there is absolutely no truth to the idea that Alabama is a ground attack only.

Though recruits are being sold that dusty old lie they don't appear to be listening.   Alabama currently has nine young receivers ranked four stars by Rivals.  One more, Chris Black is verbally committed for the 2012 class.

This season, fans will definitely see plenty of Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy toting the rock but don't expect that run pass balance to tilt to far either way. 

Alabama is about winning and offensive balance is a key component to winning when everything is on the line.  Alabama also has two quarterbacks with big time arms at their disposal. Both can make throws that Greg McElroy could not. 

All recent evidence points to Alabama being a top offensive program.  Balance is always important, but Alabama can and will throw the ball.  In fact, the Alabama passing game may be more active not less in the future.