Chris Bahn: Dilfer’s Tyler Wilson Criticism Harsh, But Was It Wrong?

Trent Dilfer’s analysis of former Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback Tyler Wilson was harsh. Very much so, and there’s really no debate about that point.

In case you missed it, here is what Dilfer, a former NLF quarterback and current ESPN analyst had to say after Wilson was announced by the Oakland Raiders as the 112th overall pick in the fourth round:

“His brain writes checks that his talent can’t cash.”

Ouch, right?

Arkansas Razorbacks fans already a little beaten down because Wilson had been available for so long (imagine how Wilson was feeling at that point) did not take kindly to Dilfer’s thoughts. There was a time that Wilson was regarded as a possible first-round pick, so seeing him go that low and then hearing such pointed criticism of a fan favorite did not bring out the best in people.

Reaction was predictably anti-Dilfer. My mentions column on Twitter lit up with an assortment of criticisms of Dilfer, the most common being that he got a Super Bowl ring only by virtue of being on a team with a great defense.

What stood out to me among the reactions to Dilfer and his comments on Tyler Wilson was how few actual counterpoints were being offered. A friend did text to point out that Wilson holds 27 school records and helped the team to a Top 10 finish.

Impressive as those accomplishments are, they don’t really serve to counter this: Tyler Wilson found himself in trouble quite a bit. And a lot of the times Wilson was in trouble, it was of his own doing.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that said about Wilson. Former coach Bobby Petrino noted that the quarterback put himself in bad positions. Both Paul Petrino and Garrick McGee, Wilson’s former offensive coordinators at Arkansas, said it.

Wilson himself admitted to making poor choices on the field at times.

We saw this play out nearly ever week that Wilson was under center. It began with his first start at Arkansas when he was running the football — “making up plays,” Bobby Petrino called it — and lowering his helmet, looking for contact. Wilson wanted to prove his toughness to teammates (and maybe himself) and in the process put himself and the Razorbacks at somewhat of a risk.

Praise — lots of it — came Wilson’s way for the grit and fearlessness that he displayed on the field in two seasons as a starter. No doubt we should have all been impressed with the way he got up time and again from some brutal hits.

What seemed to go unspoken (or at the very least unheard) in a lot of those instances was that Wilson was responsible for some of the punishment he took. It wasn’t always simply a case of the offensive line being bad.  Wilson, I was often told by folks who would know, wasn’t as adept as his predecessor, Ryan Mallett, at getting the right protection called. There were also times Wilson simply held onto the ball too long, hoping for a play to open up.

Then there were the times Wilson was all too willing to let the ball fly, good sense be damned. Coaching breakdowns in 2012 didn’t help Wilson’s cause, and we saw his interception total go up in his final season at Arkansas, but Wilson has admitted the pressure to make big plays led him to make throws he shouldn’t have.

Wilson liked to take risks. Sometimes unnecessarily so.

When we put it that way, it doesn’t sound so harsh, right?

A willingness to gamble and absorb hits made Wilson a heckuva story and something of a folk hero at Arkansas. It also made him seem like a risk to some NFL teams.

SEC Network

As you’ve likely heard by now there will be gobs of programming on the SEC Network when it launches in August 2014. Some of it interesting (the continuation of the SEC Storied series) and some of it zzzz… (swimming and diving championships).

What really excites me as a football fan is that every SEC football game will be available for me to watch beginning next season. And this hopefully means fewer of those brutal 11 a.m. kickoffs. CBS will still have first choice of games, but won’t have exclusivity when it comes to that afternoon broadcast time, meaning ESPN and the SEC can broadcast games in that 2:30 window.

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