The right Peter Principle for a different reason?

We’ve tended to focus on the offensive slippage last season as the reason Kirby Smart elected to change offensive coordinators, but what if it was something else that motivated him to move on from James Coley?

Something like this ($$):

Around this time last year, some online draft analysts were touting Georgia’s Jake Fromm as a possible top 10 pick or higher. Now, that doesn’t sound like that’s going to be anywhere near the case. I was skeptical of those projections at the time from what I’d seen and heard. One NFL coach told me in Indy that of the QBs who threw there, he felt Fromm probably hurt himself the most. “He measured short, ran slow (5.01 in the 40) and threw poorly, but he was outstanding in the interview, so that’ll help him some,” the coach said.

Jake Fromm’s passer rating declined from 171.22 in 2018 to 141.15 in 2019.  Nationally, that represents a drop from fifth to fiftieth.  Sure, he had to deal with significant changes in his receiving corps, but it’s not exactly like he had chopped liver to deal with this year, especially as long as Cager was healthy.  And he still had a formidable offensive line protecting him, along with a top running back talent in Swift.  At some point, you’ve got to say Fromm’s game declined year over year because of Jake Fromm.  Then you’ve got to wonder why, or at least you do when you realize it didn’t happen in a complete vacuum.

Fromm did the job the year before, and, for that matter, led Georgia to a national title game as a true freshman.  He wasn’t a mediocre quarterback before the start of the 2019 season, but he did finish as one.  And the adjunct to that observation is that while Kirby Smart made a correct decision to stick with Fromm over Fields as his starter, a year later this doesn’t sit so well.

… But a few coaches and folks in the quarterback space say they won’t be shocked if Justin Fields ends up pushing him for that top spot.

Now, this is hardly the consensus. Several coaches and evaluators I talked to this week think Lawrence is far and away the better quarterback prospect. Everyone I spoke to still loves Lawrence, and it’s not like the NFL personnel people have been able to study either extensively at this point. But the feeling I got from some coaches is that people don’t realize just how talented the Ohio State quarterback really is in terms of his arm and athleticism.

I don’t care how justified the original decision was at the time — and, for the record, I think Smart made both the correct and obvious call in that regard — in retrospect, that’s got to sting.  If I’m Kirby Smart, I’m asking myself how things got turned upside down as quickly as they did.

It’s probably not a big step to look in Coley’s direction from there, either.

69 Comments

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69 responses to “The right Peter Principle for a different reason?

  1. ugafidelis

    When they started talking about Jake’s mechanics slipping about mid season last year, I knew something was rotten in Denmark.

    Early in the preseason, maybe Jake, sensing Coley had too much on his plate, got too confident and tried to do too much on his own. Maybe Coley had too much on his plate, and trusted his QB too much, and focused more on the OC role.

    Maybe Kirby was too preoccupied with the defense and trusted his offensive staff too much, and nobody had QC. Everyone was just too comfortable and confident, until things weren’t going right in the games and then there was nobody to be be the offensive rudder. We saw it boil over on the field with the dustups between Herrien and CKS, and then Fromm and Swift.

    Hell, I’m just speculating. I don’t know, but it was dang sure ugly at times.

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    • Texas Dawg

      Multiple times through out the year, commentators for the games mentioned his poor mechanics. It was bad enough that I noticed it even without them saying anything. That is coaching. He did not have that problem the 2 previous years.

      Like

  2. Alkaline

    I console myself with the thought that Coley would have wasted Fields’s abilities just as easily as Fromm’s. sobs in corner

    Liked by 1 person

    • Russ

      Yeah, I’m there as well. If we’d kept Fields, he would have still been handing off into an 9 man box or giving it to Cook on a jet sweep.

      Bottom line, the QB position regressed, Coley was responsible for the QBs, and now Coley is gone. Unfortunately, Jake is, too. I wonder if Jake would have stayed if he knew it would play out differently with the coaches.

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      • Mayor

        I’m pretty sure Jake left to get away from Coley. In fact, Jake leaving probably was the wakeup call Kirby needed to make the changes he made. If that is the case, Dawgs everywhere need to thank Jake if the team gets better offensively.

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  3. Granthams replacement

    Fromm’s cast diminished significantly in 2019 and made it much easier for defenses to make him play to his weaknesses.

    The Fields decision will be unfairly used against Kirby from where the 2 QBs end up in their careers. In 2018 Fromm was the better QB. Fields has progressed and I expect him to continue to progress well beyond Fromm’s physical limitations.

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  4. SlobberKnocker

    I read that article today and my head went to the “what if”. What if Fields were still here and Monken had him to work with going into this year. How different would our thoughts about the coming offense be? Now, I know there are a ton of mitigating circumstances, not limited to if Monken would even be here. But, it was still a fun question to think through in my head.

    And for the record, I agreed with the decision Smart made to stay with Fromm.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Derek

    Talent matters.

    You can blame coaching all you want but there was never one single time that Jake took over a game when we needed him to. Did he steady things? Yes. Did he make big plays in tight games vs. good teams? Yes. Has he been arguably the most successful qb we’ve had? He has my vote. But he doesn’t have the physical talents of many qbs that we’ve had through the years and that costs yiu vs. the fastest most athletic defenses you face.

    I remember the top qbs we’ve had repeatedly taking 10 point or more deficits and bringing us back on their play alone. That never happened with jake.

    As an opposing dc, if you could make jake beat you, well, he didn’t beat you and that was with both cheney and coley.

    The reason for this is simple: he is physically limited.

    Its possible, but not very likely that he’ll find a nfl team that lives on the running game, defense and special teams and only wants a 15 for 22 for 200 yards and no pick performance, but that league requires qbs to win games on their own. Most qbs throw over 30 passes every game. There were 20 qbs with 13 or more games played that averaged over 30 passes pg.

    What’s jake’s record when he threw over 30 times?

    0-6.

    If you want to beat the Alabama’s and the Clemsons and the OSU’s who do have top 5 qbs in the nfl draft, you might need one of those too.

    And again, don’t blame coaching. Stafford wasn’t picked first because of bobo anymore than murray never played a nfl snap because of bobo. Bobo didn’t break Joe T or Joe Cox either.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Kirby made the right decision between Fromm and Fields – full stop. It wasn’t Kelly Bryant vs. Trevor Lawrence where Bryant struggled mightily at times even before Goldilocks showed up at Auburn with a Lake.

    Something happened after the Tennessee game. Was it Cager’s injuries? Was it a lack of trust until he was comfortable with Pickens? Was it a lack of coaching as the season progressed? Was it Kirby’s panic after the USCe turnovers? Did the 2 games in the driving rain hurt Jake’s confidence? Was it a little bit of everything?

    Jake made a mistake by coming out. I REALLY hope he makes coming back to finish his finance degree a priority.

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    • JasonC

      I was also surprised Fromm came out this year. I wonder if Kirby had brought Monken in earlier, if that would have changed his decision or if he felt Cooley wouldn’t be able to help him much for 2020.

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  7. MGW

    I would love to have seen Fromm stay and put up 4,000 yards in 2020, win a title, and get picked top ten overall. His first two years when he was asked to sling it, he slung it mighty well. He deserves some blame for sure but there was a good bit working against him.

    Anyhow I look forward to seeing what Newman/Monken are gonna do.

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  8. Doug

    Even given the get-while-the-gettin’s-good nature of how college stars eye their NFL prospects, I was legit surprised that Fromm jumped after last season. It sure didn’t seem like the kind of season that would inspire a lot of confidence from pro scouts, and the current draft projections seem to bear that out. I wonder if he might have stuck around had Kirby pulled the trigger on Coley sooner, even without the prospect of someone specific like Monken on the horizon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Napoleon BonerFart

      I think the time was right. The 2020 QB will be operating behind an OL with 4 new starters, handing off the ball to unproven running backs, and throwing the ball to unproven tight ends and receivers (except for Pickens). And doing all of this for a new coordinator.

      UGA may be very successful in 2020. But that’s likely to be because the defense is suffocating and the offense does enough to win early and gets good late in the year.

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    • It’s said he did it all for his best girl…. 😍

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  9. The other Doug

    I agree that Smart made the right call starting Fromm over Fields and Eason, but what if he decided that it was the wrong decision in hindsight and he wasn’t going into 2020 guaranteeing Fromm the job? I know that sounds crazy, but the QB that showed up at the draft is the guy Smart has spent 3 years trying to coach up.

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  10. Greg

    These eyes thinks for the most part, it was the receivers. A little help in the SC game and we would not even be talking about this.

    The LSU game, it would have not mattered. Still a helluva a season.

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    • A “little help in the SC game”? You mean, this game?

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      • Greg

        Hell, anybody can pick out a moment in a game to try and make a point.

        Watch the entire game and tell me how many drops there were.

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        • My point is that Jake’s decision making and mechanics declined year over year. Some of that’s on Jake and some on coaching.

          If you want to lay it on the receivers, most of them are back this season, so I guess that means Newman’s due for a decline.

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          • ASEF

            Receiving wasn’t optimal, but we live in a time where there is no middle ground. So, not optimal = Vandy bad apparently

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          • Greg

            It’s on his receivers mostly, you don’t want to believe me fine.

            I am not the only one who says it, google Todd McShay and see his comments on Fromm….or believe what you want.

            As far as the receivers this coming year, hopefully we get a healthy Blaylock back along with Pickens. Both will add another years experience along with a whole bunch of blue chip receivers.

            It will not be the same, so you can’t compare……well you can, but do it fairly.

            Fromm’s biggest drop off came with Cager going out….South Carolina game, right??

            What is not getting pointed out is, it was obvious to me he had very little trust in most all of his receivers with exception of Cager who was out for the most part, Pickens and for the most part Blaylock….he also got injured toward the end…..wrong routes, drops, getting jammed at the LOS and etc, hard to trust’s.

            Fromm was a pretty damn good QB, one of the best we have ever had. But it may not translate to the pros. Aaron Murray….the same could be said about him….and it didn’t translate to the pros.

            Again, some of my point is….if the receivers hung on to the ball in the SC game, we have only 1 loss (what was it, 5 drops??). A pretty damn good season….and Jake led it.

            Jake did a pretty damn good job with what he had to work with last year.

            This new year with different recipes circumstances proves nothing (Fromm’s ability).

            I for one appreciated Fromm, always will…

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        • The other Doug

          After the SC game Jake struggled mightily. There’s no way around it.

          He had an OL and RB rotation full of future NFL starters plus 2 solid freshmen WRs, but the guy couldn’t get the offense out of first gear.

          http://www.cfbstats.com/2019/player/257/1086994/passing/gamelog.html

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          • Napoleon BonerFart

            SC showed other teams the blueprint to beat UGA. Some of that was Fromm not executing. Some was receivers not executing. And some was coaches continuing to run into stacked fronts and calling out routes instead of being more creative. With the exception of the play calling in the cocktail party, I don’t think Coley helped Fromm out much in the second half of the season.

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  11. Mick Jagger

    Quite simply, in 2019 opposing DCs stacked the box to force Jake to beat them. Against strong competition, he didn’t.

    BTW, I love Jake and thought Kirby made the right choice.

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    • People were talking about stacking the box in 2018.

      Loading the box doesn’t explain why Jake’s mechanics regressed last season, something even he admitted he had to work on during bowl practice.

      Liked by 1 person

    • He did it against Notre Dame, Baylor and Florida. He didn’t against LSU. He didn’t against Auburn and Texas A&M, and we won anyway.

      Something was different, and I don’t believe it had anything to do with DCs stacking the box. They’ve stacked the box since he came into the game against App State.

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      • The other Doug

        I think it was the increased use of man coverage. Florida and Baylor stayed mostly in zone.

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        • I didn’t go back and watch the 2017 and 2018 season all over again, but teams weren’t just playing zone for 2 1/2 years. That probably points out the wide receiver problems we had when Cager was out. If WRs and TEs can’t get off man coverage, then the windows close more quickly. In turn, the QB has to trust the target is going to be in the right place when he throws to the spot where his read says his receiver should be.

          I’m not saying Jake didn’t shoulder some of the blame, but he didn’t all of a sudden become inept at throwing the football in man coverage between the Tennessee and South Carolina games.

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        • How can you cats ascribe Man or Zone coverage when viewing a TV broadcast.? You can’t see shit much beyond the line of scrimmage ! Are you all on some different wavelength ?

          Liked by 1 person

          • The other Doug

            It’s hard to tell. Sometimes you can watch the 22 personnel feed and see everything, but most of the time it’s seeing where the DBs line up pre snap after motion, and then the replay. After 5-6 games it was obvious.

            How teams stymied the passing game was:
            1. They played man tight pre snap. The tight part took away the quick pass. Most DBs in man want some space so they don’t get beat deep. I noticed a few times opposing coaches yelling/waving for their DB to get tight pre snap.
            2. Take away the sideline throw. Most DBs in man are scared they will get beat to the middle of the field so they protect that, but against UGA you do the opposite. Fromm was money up against the sideline but rarely went over the middle.
            3. Have the safeties play run first and then get back into position if it’s a pass. Again, this is the opposite of what you would normally do because Fromm has plenty of time to wait for a WR to beat a guy deep. Fromm struggled with the deep ball. You can see this on the replays when the safeties first step or 5 is towards the line of scrimmage.

            Also, it’s very hard for a college team to play tight man because they don’t have CBs who are that good. They might have one if they’re lucky. That’s why in prior years if a team played man they kept a safety or 2 up top for help. Grantham made the mistake of going to zone once his DL guys were dinged up and it cost them. After UF everybody risked it and played man except for Baylor.

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  12. ASEF

    Those issues absolutely were playing out in recruiting. And if Kirby is running into flak on the recruiting trail, he is going to adjust instantly. As much as we speculate about how stubborn he is as a game tactician, he is 100% a whatever works on the recruiting trail. Whether Coley was to blame or not, his direction of the offense become a liability on the recruiting trail. Which left Kirby with a simple binary: go another year with Coley to prove the doubters wrong or punt.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dawg1

      I think you are right. Firstly, losing Jadon Haselwood was a surpise canary in the coal mine (even though he had OK ties) soothed a bit by Kirby grabbing Pickens, but Arik Gilbert leaving due to no other reason than the criminal misuse of the TEs over the last 4 years and ridiculously anemic passing game is a big reason for all the changes, IMO.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. mp

    I thought he got jumpy last year despite having unbelievable pass protection. Threw terribly despite the pocket holding up. With the games in the rain, his small hands as measured at the combine were clearly evident.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    Because it is winter I like to watch replays of UGA games, and over the past three years, I have watched Jake make some great plays and great decisions. If I had $100 for every time someone like Gary Danielson said something like “that was a perfect throw! Aaron Rodgers can’t do that any better” or “the reason that play worked is that Fromm saw the coverage and changed the play” I would have my annual liquor bill paid for. That said, those kind of comments declined in number drastically the second half of last season. I doubt that Jake just lost his abilities. Maybe it is a coincidence that for most of that time Cager was playing hurt or just out. Maybe Jake had some minor injury that started nagging at him that he hasn’t talked about. I have no idea that I would insist upon, and we may never know. But I do think he will get drafted and I do think he make a team. He plays the NFL game as well as anyone, and he has the head for it.

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    • Classic City Canine

      He plays the NFL game as well as anyone? You’ve got to be kidding right. Game managers and statuesque pocket passers are going the way of dinosaurs. Jake’s going to be a 3rd string backup for a few years and then put that finance background to good use.

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  15. dawgfan1995

    I was rewatching a bit of the Missouri game on YouTube over the weekend. I think it was Dan Orlovsky who pointed out an issue with Fromm’s footwork.

    It’s third down and 2 on the Mizzou 11. Fromm does a play action fake and curls back to the middle of the field. The TE Eli Wolf is wide open, but Fromm throws the ball with all arm and no legs — a clear technique issue. As a result, the Mizzou DB is able to recover and knocks the ball down.

    If Orlovsky can see something like this live watching a game, one has to wonder about technical regression. Fromm was a baseball player. He knows how to follow through on throws. And yet, the ball dies because he just lofts it out there instead of finishing the throw.

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  16. Hogbody Spradlin

    If Jake Fromm’s mechanics regressed, that’s lamentable. He’s a good guy and deserves success.
    About that other guy, objective Ohio State fans I know (there are some) say Justin Fields’s windup is too long to be a good pro. Like Tebow.

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  17. CB

    Important to note that Fromm’s passer rating in the first 5 games of the season before Cager got hurt, plus Florida where he returned for one game was a combined 186.45 which would have been good for 3rd in the nation behind only Joe Burrow and Jalen Hurts. The impact of Cager is a real mystery to me. I had never heard of the kid until he decided to transfer to Georgia, but the offense with and without him was noticeably different during his short stint. In Fromm’s case the difference was tangible to the tune of 45 rating points.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Classic City Canine

      Same thing with Wims in 2017. It’s weird how Fromm locked onto one security blanket every year and seemed lost without him.

      Liked by 2 people

  18. FlyingPeakDawg

    Fromm over Fields was the right decision. Fields isn’t facing SEC competition these days either. And Jake flat out won the ND game in South Bend, but not sure Eason wouldn’t have been better…for us…the rest of the way. Oh well.

    As an aside, I’m amused at this much introspection about the limitations and failings of the offense last year without the usual cast of characters flaming everyone for not being loyal…Kirby’s on the mother…etc. Our offense was a mess and everyone knew it.

    I’m not ready to give Kirby a full pass for the changes he’s made in the off-season. I’d like to see him make those adjustments mid-season when they really matter. OMG…WE WON….QUIT YER BITCHIN!!! That offense had no chance going into the SEC game that everyone knew would be Bama or LSU early on. Kirby decided to play-out his endgame and rely on the defense. In 2017 Chubb and Sony visited Chaney with concerns. That took leadership and it seems Chaney made some adjustments. Maybe it was a lack of real leadership this past year for someone to challenge Coley.

    Hopefully Kirby will make the changes on offense this year that gets all of the cylinders clicking in unison. I think it’s more than just inserting a new DC…it’s all the parts from every coach on the O side, the players, and the head man. We’re not a playoff team until this happens…and we have a Heisman caliber player in the backfield too, probably.

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  19. dawgman3000

    I think Kirby made the right decision in keeping Fromm as the starter but he and Cheney failed miserably in how they used (or misused )Fields. Fromm was a very good qb for UGA but like Derek said, he’s not a game changing qb. His strengths are getting the offense in the right plays and minimizing potential mistakes. I personally think that Aaron Murray is better and unfortunately, even he didn’t pan out in the NFL.

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  20. Admiral Sackbar

    Not sure to whom the Peter Principle is being applied but I can see it for either Jake or Coley.

    We might look back at the end of 2020 and say Kirby made the wrong decision on not making Fields our starter but it wasn’t that obvious in 2018 and Fields probably wasn’t going to succeed in Coley’s offense anyway. Jake might go down as just a good college QB, but he might yet be a successful pro. He’s just going to have continue to work hard and improve.

    As for Coley, I think his career has shown where his ceiling is as a coach. He’s a great recruiter, a great guy to have in a support role on staff, but not a great offensive coordinator. I know the reasons why FSU and Miami were maybe not good indicators of his coaching acumen; however, as the Senator points out, he wasn’t really working with chopped liver in 2019. Jake’s mechanics might have been off, but who was his QB coach?

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  21. Former Fan

    Fromm did fine till Cager left. I don’t think we can ignore that.

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  22. Jason

    Fromm over Eason after sitting 4 games understandable. I also understand why you go with the new guy in his Sophmore year and allow your junior to leave. I understand why you pick Fromm to play his Sophmore year and you sit the new guy.

    You don’t have vision if you watch Fromm for 2 years and you can’t see that Fields has a much higher ceiling. You prep Fields for starting in his Sophmore year.

    That being said. I do like Fromm. He is a competitor and a DGD. But blaming the WRS all year for how he played doesn’t make sense. Should those receivers have caught more balls? Definitely.. but his ball placement did not help. Colely may have called the plays but who the ball was thrown to and when it was thrown was all Jake Fromm.

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  23. Classic City Canine

    Kirby’s original sin was picking an offensive system that favored a Fromm-type game manager over play-makers like Fields (and Eason).

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  24. TN Dawg

    Maybe Jake Fromm never was that good.

    Maybe he looked good because they put him in low-risk situations, surrounded him with NFL talent, and the “bad games” weren’t really bad games, just games where he faced good defenses that actually pressured him.

    Maybe he didn’t actually “lead the team” to the NC game, but rather was handled with kid gloves as a game-manager by an experienced OC and the team was led to the NC by two of the highest character, NFL-caliber running backs both in the locker room and on the field.

    Like

    • Mayor

      I’m on record at the time saying that if Eason was named starting QB again after he healed up in ‘17 the team would have still made it to the national championship game.

      Liked by 1 person