Just maybe, this is what it was supposed to be like – supposed to feel like – all along.
Before we jump ahead, let’s go back for a bit.
Back to Aug. 18 when everything lay ahead for these Tigers.
There was a ton of pre-season optimism – in retrospect, well-placed high hopes – and at the core of that was all the chatter we heard about Jefferson making a quantum leap forward under Steve Kragthorpe’s tutelage.
Jefferson was simply going to be better, maybe because he couldn’t have played much worse than he did at times in 2010. He was going to be more composed. He’d rely on better decision-making. His mechanics and fundamentals would be sharpened.
For a team oozing with talent everywhere else, Jefferson and the quarterback spot wouldn’t be the weak link any more, but rather a key component to a revamped offense.
Then the fight outside of Shady’s happened. Then everything went haywire.
Since the whole mess unfolded, my contention – one I stick to – is that it’s hard to believe Jefferson is guilty of everything he was accused of that night.
It was bad judgement for him to be there, yes. Just like it was for all of his other teammates. That can be forgiven.
And I’m not naïve enough to think he was an innocent bystander as the scrum unfolded. If anything, I’d be more disappointed to find out he hadn’t jumped in to help his teammates in that situation.
But kicking a combatant in the head (I don’t care to identify him as an ex-Marine because I don’t see where he acted real Marine-like)? That’s just too far out of character for Jefferson. There are some players I can imagine that about. He’s not one of them.
Back to the present, I’ll admit that I didn’t quite grasp the abrupt switch to Jefferson after the Alabama game.
|Jarrett Lee has ben displaced at QB but his contributions this season shouldn't be downplayed.|
Jarrett Lee played a big role in getting LSU to 8-0, although I think it’s arguable that the Tigers would’ve gotten there anyway had Jefferson been at the wheel the whole time.
At first, it just didn’t make sense to disrupt the team and the offense’s flow after eight games by flip-flopping quarterbacks.
It does make sense now.
Because Jefferson is the better quarterback, period.
For all his on-the-field faults and weaknesses, Jefferson simply brings much more to the table than Lee does against the kind of defenses LSU sees – and is likely to see down the road – in the SEC.
It’s not only the mobility and escapability that add different layers to pass plays when they break down, although those are huge additions against defenses that are talented enough to at times force LSU into being one-dimensional.
It’s deeper than what Jefferson brings to the table physically and scheme-wise. He seems to have emerged from the whole ugly Shady’s imbroglio as a stronger leader, a stronger man – more focused, more determined. Teammates seem to respond to him better than they do Lee. The swagger is still there, perhaps to Jefferson’s detriment at times, but you want your quarterback to be confident.
This isn’t about the alleged team revolt when players threatened to skip practice when Jefferson was suspended or about the core group that has allegedly urged Les Miles to reinstall him as the starter since he returned.
|The relationship between Tigers coach Les Miles and Jordan Jefferson has been a sore spot at times.|
Nor is it anything to do with the new wave of innuendo that Lee has blown off class recently (all semester?) to find a place in the coach’s doghouse and deservedly forfeit the right to start or even play much.
It’s more about this: After watching Jefferson for four years, I’ve never seen him play with as much confidence as he is right now. Even when he makes mistakes, Jefferson has steered clear of compounding them with another bad throw or shaky decision. He has bounced back better.
Not sure I can say that about Lee anymore. He had a chance to show he had moved beyond letting one bad mistake bother him against Alabama, but instead came back out and threw a second, even worse interception.
This also isn’t meant to bash Lee. I respect the hell out of that kid for standing up like he did and answering questions in 2008 and for sticking it out the last two seasons to even be in position to take the job in August when Jefferson was out of action.
And I certainly don’t agree with the way Miles handled the transition or what he’s said to the media and by extension the public while the situation has played out. His actions have turned this into a controversy when it didn’t need to be.
If Jefferson is the guy, Miles should’ve just said so. Tell the media, the fan base – and most importantly Lee – that’s the case and move on. He’s the coach and he gets to make those decisions. He doesn’t need to explain or apologize for them. He does need to be up front about it, though.
But there’s not any reason to feel sorry for Lee. He stood tall and did what he was asked to do – what the Tigers needed him to do – and has nothing to be ashamed of.
It boils down to this now: Jefferson is the better quarterback and he gives LSU the best chance to win these last two games, period.
Maybe it’s a result of all Jefferson has been through. Or maybe he was just supposed to be the guy all along.
Whatever the case or the path or how well it’s been handled (or not) by Miles, it just seems like this is how things were supposed to be for LSU all along.