By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – As the quarterback position evolved in the NFL, and the read-option offense becomes an effective way of moving the ball and scoring points, it’s hard for Eagles fans to not wonder “what if?”
What if the man once dubbed the “Ultimate Weapon” by Sports Illustrated, actually was put in an offense that would have maximized his ability to run the ball and throw the ball, instead of the “go make something happen!” offense that Buddy Ryan employed?
“Could I have run the read-option? I think I possibly could have done it, but I would not have wanted to do it,” Cunningham told 94WIP’s Ike Reese and Rob Ellis. “I would have wanted it to be all natural running.”
“When I was in high school, my high school coach told me if I ran he was going to bench me,” Cunningham said. “So I didn’t run in high school. Then in college, if you look at my statistics, I had negative yards rushing because they took the sacks off of your rushing yards. And then when I went in the NFL, nobody knew who I was pretty much, besides the people that drafted me. So I look at these kids now of days—Kaepernick? Everybody knew Kaepernick. RG3? Everybody knew RG3 and it’s so crazy because they still can’t stop them. It’s a combination of great coaches, it’s a combination of kids who have a strong, strong will. When I look at some of these kids now of days, even the kids—[Andrew] Luck from Indianapolis. I mean Luck is about to make Indianapolis forget all about Peyton Manning because that kid is so good as a young rookie. These guys are great.”
Instead of waiting until joining the Vikings to see his career blossom, if Cunningham had a guy like Chip Kelly calling his plays and designing the offense, perhaps it would have happened a lot sooner. As it turns out, Cunningham is familiar with Kelly, but in a different way.
“I love Chip Kelly. Chip Kelly was recruiting my son, who is at Bishop Gormon High School,” Cunningham said. “He’s in 11th grade right, he’s the starting quarterback next season. I was looking forward to my son having an opportunity to go to Oregon, but now I guess I got to look forward to him having the opportunity to go to the Philadelphia Eagles later on. He’s been offered by LSU at the quarterback position. He’s been offered by Syracuse, he’s been offered by Baylor. UCLA offered him a full ride for track and field.”
Even though Buddy Ryan might not have been the best coach for Randall Cunningham the quarterback, Randall Cunningham the person looks back at those days with a smile.
“I was really having fun. I was a happy-go-luck, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed young kid, who wanted to sign autographs for everybody as soon as I got in the league. I went out and just had fun. I’m thankful I had a coach like Buddy Ryan, who let me be myself and he said, ‘look go make five plays and we’re gonna win the game, the defense is gonna do their job.’ I said, ‘really coach? That’s all you need out of me?’,” he said.