Criteria #3: An Identity on Offense
In a conference full of high-flying offenses, Stanford historically zagged with a physical, disciplined attack. In his 12 years at the helm, Shaw authored an offensive attack that was labeled “Intellectual Brutality”.
Behind a tough, disciplined OL (David DeCastro, Andrus Peat amongst them), RBs like Christian McCaffery, Bryce Love, and Tyler Gaffney bludgeoned their competition. Considering how easily the Broncos have been pushed around in recent years, I’d say that we’d all gladly take that kind of physicality.
Not only that, Stanford has had a reputation for developing QBs that were NFL caliber.
Yes, Andrew Luck is the unicorn that any program would have been fortunate to have. It’s the guys that followed him that helped solidify a reputation behind Stanford’s development.
Guys like Kevin Hogan, Davis Mills, and now Tanner McKee are all guys that have/will be drafted (and play) in the NFL. Even KJ Costello had a cup of coffee in the pros. Now, are any of them on pace to become franchise QBs? No. However, few programs have as many QBs make it in the league. Let’s not forget how much success Alabama had with guys like Greg McElroy and AJ McCarron, guys who barely saw the field in the pros.
The remnants of the old West Coast system that Shaw employs have helped mold QBs that are fundamentally better at basic pro concepts than many other QBs coming into the NFL. While some of their ceilings have been lower than others, it’s important to note that Stanford’s system can be QB-friendly.
To that point, there were two NFL OCs last year that have ties to Stanford. Greg Roman and Pep Hamilton were on different staffs with Shaw, the latter being his OC from 2011-2012.
Since leaving Stanford, their resumes speak for themselves. Roman’s had enormous success with the 49ers, Bills, and Ravens. Meanwhile, Hamilton went on to be Luck’s coordinator in Indy, Herbert’s QB coach his rookie year (where he broke multiple rookie records), and coordinated Davis Mills’s surprisingly solid rookie year in Houston.
Considering the amount of success his colleagues have had in the NFL, it’s safe to say that Shaw’s physical attack could adapt to the pros.
Now, for all of the naysayers to Shaw’s candidacy, let’s break down those concerns and look at the context behind them.