If you don’t know the name Michael Lombardi, he’s one of the most unfiltered, while at the same time, knowledgable minds in sports media.
Lombardi has experience as an executive in the front offices of the 49ers, Browns, Eagles, Raiders and Patriots and has worked at various media outlets such as Sports Illustrated and The Ringer. His new outlet for sharing his takes is a podcast called “The GM Shuffle” that he co-hosts with former ESPN studio host Adnan Virk.
The latest episode of “The GM Shuffle” deals mostly with Lombardi and Virk reacting to the 2019 NFL Draft. While discussing some potential late-round value picks NFL teams may have found last weekend, Lombardi quickly turned to former Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham. Keep in mind, Lombardi has a very close relationship with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, and after Stidham was selected by New England at the end of the fourth round, it’s not hard to envision a scenario where Lombardi reached out to Belichick about his new quarterback.
“Jarrett Stidham, the kid from Auburn. Here’s this kid, he was a five-star, four-star kid at Baylor with Art Briles, okay? They have the absolute fiasco that happens there and then he decides to leave Baylor and goes to Auburn,” Lombardi says on the podcast. “Really if the kid was smart, he would have stayed at Baylor with Matt Rhule. Because if he plays with Matt Rhule at Baylor, he’s probably going to throw. He probably would have been a first or second-round pick. He’s easily better than Daniel Jones if he plays in an offense that would have highlighted what he can do.”
That’s a very bold statement considering Jones was drafted sixth overall in the draft by the Giants, however, most were stunned by that decision by New York so Lombardi may not actually be that far off in his assessment of the two prospects.
To continue that thought, Lombardi then really went all in on Auburn’s offense, which he says could be the worst offense in all of football.
“That offense at Auburn, I’m not sure what the hell it is,” Lombardi said. “They run power, they run unbalanced… But anyway, that offense, seriously, might be one of the worst offenses in football, so you can’t evaluate a quarterback in it or they can’t train a quarterback, that’s the other thing. (Gus Malzahn) can’t train them.”
Clearly, Lombardi doesn’t hold back when asked to give his opinion. While there’s no way Belichick would ever say something like that publicly, you have to wonder if he feels much the same or if he relayed similar comments to his former coworker during the lead up to the draft or following Stidham’s selection.
Either way, it’s hard to argue with Lombardi’s take on Malzahn’s lack of development of his quarterbacks. Outside of Jeremy Johnson and Sean White, both of which disappointed during their time on The Plains, Malzahn typically has to reach into junior college or the transfer market to find a quarterback. That won’t be the case next season, so Malzahn will have a chance to silence his critics in the fall, but if he doesn’t, this narrative will only get louder next offseason.