It’s so fascinating to ponder the inflection points in a quarterback’s career. Watershed moments pop up along the way where they could easily doubt themselves and end their football journeys before they had a chance to truly blossom.
A quarterback at Alabama doesn’t strike me as someone who deals with major adversity. However, Nick Saban is such a powerful recruiter that he can attract multiple 5-star-caliber players to compete for the same job. You’re not guaranteed anything in Tuscaloosa no matter how celebrated you are at the prep level. That can either break a young man, or bring out the best in him.
In Jalen Milroe’s case, it was very much the latter. Not only did Milroe get benched this season against South Florida, but well before then, his former offensive coordinator and current New England Patriots play-caller Bill O’Brien told him he couldn’t hack it as a QB.
Milroe revealed this in a press conference on Thursday ahead of the Crimson Tide’s Rose Bowl matchup with Michigan on New Year’s Day.
Jalen Milroe on Bill O'Brien telling him he should switch positions: @abc3340
The best play of Milroe’s career to date was a 4th and 31 TD strike to Isaiah Bond to lift Alabama to an Iron Bowl triumph over arch-nemesis Auburn. Talk about overcoming self-doubt and adversity in real time. My goodness.
Of course an old head Patriots hardo like O’Brien would trash somebody like this instead of building him up. Credit to Milroe, though, for ignoring that assessment. He rose above it and became a bigger and better man by doing so. Other than throwing a pretty deep ball, Milroe didn’t look like some high-end QB early this season. However, he couldn’t have responded better to the benching, and wound up leading the Tide to the CFP semifinals. Somehow. Some way.
Anyone who sticks it to the Patriots is a winner in my book. The vast majority of folks affiliated with that organization — specifically, members of Bill Belichick’s coaching tree, such as twice-fired head coach Josh McDaniels — are so high on their own supply. If not for Tom Brady being the GOAT, most of those dudes wouldn’t have gotten the opportunities they did outside of New England. They try to break down every player they come into contact with under the guise of being a disciplinarian. Really, they hate themselves, are poor imitations of Belichick and can’t really forge their own unique identities. Or so it appears from the outside based on their general demeanor and lackluster-to-be-kind bottom-line results.
How’s that Patriots offense doing in 2023 under O’Brien’s watch? Oh, that’s right. DFL in scoring. Cool.
It’s difficult to root for Saban, another Belichick disciple who trots out a team every Saturday with considerably more talent than his opponent approximately 87% of the time (13 out of 15 games seems about right, no?) and can boss everyone around like a raging a**hole because of it. Look at how the similarly-minded-only-worse Urban Meyer translated from college to the NFL with that style. NOT SO WELL. Belichick tree branch Brian Daboll is reportedly a d*ck behind the scenes for the Giants as well. Shocking, I tell you…
So good on Jalen Milroe for sticking it to O’Brien here. His draft stock just went way up for me, although I think he’ll stick it out at Alabama for one more season and make a far stronger case as a first-round prospect in the 2025 NFL Draft as a result.
Considering O’Brien coached Deshaun Watson on the Texans and has seen Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson flourish in the NFL after being written off as passers, you’d think he wouldn’t be so closed-minded about Milroe’s potential
Alas, hubris, stubbornness, and unresolved masculine anger manifesting in screaming at players are the true defining characteristics of The Patriot Way.