Georgia football: winning should come before Jake Fromm’s NFL future

ATHENS, GA - OCTOBER 6: Jake Fromm #11 (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
ATHENS, GA - OCTOBER 6: Jake Fromm #11 (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Georgia football enters an off week coming off a disappointing loss to the LSU Tigers. The Dawgs fell back to no. 8 in the AP poll and no. 6 in the Coaches poll.

I have tried to understand what caused Georgia’s poor offensive performance this past Saturday at LSU. It wasn’t a lack of talent. There are five and four-star recruits all over the field. All-SEC talent on the offensive line, in the backfield, and at receiver and tight end. Talent clearly isn’t to blame.

Were we soundly beaten in every facet of the game? No, Elijah Holyfield and D’Andre Swift had great games on the ground. They weren’t stopped at all by LSU. The only factor that slowed them down was Jim Cheney’s play calling.

There lies the issue. The play calling. I know it’s an easy scapegoat for those who don’t understand the game. But what else do you blame when the two leading rushers rumble down the field, and then barely combine for 20 carries for the entire game? What else do you blame when the offense is just as stagnant in the fourth quarter, as it was in the second?

Give credit to LSU, they came up with a game plan and they executed it to near perfection. But why was their defensive game plan that much better than our offensive game plan? Why are we picking up large chunks of yards on first-and-10 on a halfback draw, and then abandoning the run? If LSU can’t stop a halfback draw on first-and-10, clearly they’re waiting on Georgia to pass the ball. So why did Cheney start calling more pass plays?

I’ve pondered this question all weekend, and the only answer I’ve come up with is that Jim Cheney is valuing Jake Fromm’s potential NFL future over Georgia’s current success. That sounds bold, and maybe I’m way out of line. But why else is Jake Fromm throwing 30-plus passes that are constantly falling incomplete, while the running backs are gashing the Tiger defense for six-plus yards at a time. Why else is Justin Fields standing on the sidelines while the offense is going nowhere?

Fromm’s NFL future should be of concern to the coaches. As a university employee, a part of your job should be to ensure the students to preside over can one day succeed in their chosen profession. Whether you’re a head athletics coach, a teaching professor, etc. Same with high school, as a coach or teacher, you should be judged based on how many of your pupils get to college or succeed elsewhere.

But as a coach at the collegiate level, winning shouldn’t be sacrificed for any one player’s NFL future. I’m not saying Cheney and head coach Kirby Smart are purposefully placing Fromm’s future over the team’s current situation. But when you frame a game like Saturday’s, that’s essentially what you’re doing.

When you take a quarterback like Fromm, who is at his best in the no-huddle and given a green light to run if he wants, and try to contain him to the pocket in a methodical offense, you’re essentially pigeon holing him against what is best for the team.

Cheney, this is important, you can’t make Fromm the next Drew Brees or Kyle Orton. Just let him be Jake Fromm. He doesn’t need to sit back in the pocket to get to the NFL. There are 32 head coaches in the league, not all of them are looking to draft the prototypical quarterback. Those coaches have taken numerous chances unique passers. Look at Johnny Manziel, Cam Newton and Jameis Winston. Even your original protege Brees, has made his NFL career by leaving the pocket and being a weapon in other ways.

And Fromm also doesn’t need to play nearly every snap of game to get to the league. Look at Tom Brady. It’s okay if he splits time with Justin Fields 75/25, 70/30, 65/35, 60/40. If Fromm can lead Georgia to greatness and look good doing so, he’ll get to the NFL.

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On the other hand, I get it, he needs to be prepared for other rough situations later this season. With Florida, Kentucky, Auburn and hopefully the SEC Championship coming up, Fromm has to be ready to lead the team through those tough times.

And while the LSU game may look like one of those tough times at first glance, it wasn’t. The Georgia offensive line pushed LSU’s front around for the running game. The backs were about to take the lead after the Tiger’s first field goal. We could have ridden them to victory. Fromm’s day could have been easier. Georgia could still be undefeated.