Clearing up a couple of issues...
I wrote an extensive post yesterday supporting Joe Cox's job as starter, but while it drew a healthy number of comments agreeing with my sentiment, it drew nearly as many from fans who disagree vociferously.
I think the best comment, however, was this: Cox is a problem for Georgia in the way a runny nose is a problem for a cancer patient.
No one is saying Cox has played mistake-free football. My point in the post was simply to say that he's not playing THAT much worse, statistically, than Matthew Stafford did a year ago. No one was asking for Stafford to be benched.
I've also read numerous comments that Cox cannot stretch the field. Folks, he's completed more deep balls than any other QB in the SEC. Give the credit to A.J. Green if you want, but it was a deep ball to Tavarres King that set up the go-ahead TD last week. And the defenses Cox has faced so far -- Arkansas aside -- have been pretty solid.
What has been troubling about Cox has not been his leadership. That's been great. It's not been the deep ball. He's been as good on those as anyone could have expected since the flu-related stinker against Oklahoma State. It's been the mid-range throws, and that is a sincere criticism. Cox missed a couple of 10-to-15-yard throws to King last week and another to Shaun Chapas. He needs to hit those, but those passes aren't far off and he's capable of making them. He just has to get it done.
But all of that is really not worth arguing about. The numbers are what they are, and there's a large contingent of people who don't care. They prefer the subjective argument that Cox stinks because of a dozen or so bad throws this year rather than the objective argument that his numbers are only about 5 percent worse than what Stafford provided last year. They argue that the pass protection has been good, but ignore the fact that the running game has been brutal. In fact, I've heard some critiques that it's Cox's fault that the running game has been bad because defenses aren't respecting him. (I love this one because defenses would respect Mariah Carey's arm if she had A.J. to throw to.)
So if you don't want Joe at quarterback, there's nothing I can say to change your mind. But here's the question: What is your alternative?
This is my response to every "bench this guy" or "fire that guy" comment I hear. What is your better option?
Aaron Murray was not ready three weeks ago, and since then he hasn't practiced fully a single day thanks to a triceps injury.
Logan Gray was supposed to see playing time, but he's still not getting it. Why do you think that is? Because the same coaches who subbed D.J. Shockley in for David Greene, who benched Joe Tereshinski, whose dad was on the staff, and who benched Matthew Stafford as a freshman when he couldn't get it done -- those coaches are all too overwhelmed with appreciation for Joe that they refuse to play a better quarterback? I find it hard to believe.
In fact, remember during the spring how all those coaches talked about how Logan Gray was behind the learning curve because he had been working too much on special teams and not focusing as much on quarterback? Well guess what -- HE'S STILL PLAYING ON SPECIAL TEAMS!
Even if Gray bests Cox in pure physical ability -- a notion that is as much opinion as fact at this point -- there's nothing to say he uses a stronger arm to connect on more throws. There's nothing to say he uses his advanced athleticism to actually elude the oncoming linebackers that the O line can't seem to block. And most importantly, it is fair to conclude that when he's on the field, there won't be a single person in the huddle who truly grasps the entire offense. Who is Washaun Ealey supposed to be getting pass-blocking instructions from then?
Look, I'm not against the concept here. I argued a few weeks ago that there was merit to getting playing time for next year's quarterback. But by that same token, the opportunities have been few and far between, and at this point, while a number of fans want to see heads roll, I promise you that the feeling inside the locker room is this: We were 69 seconds away from beating the No. 4 team in the country and we still will be the SEC East champs if we win out.
If Georgia loses this week, then I'll be in your corner. Logan or Aaron should play some significant downs against Vanderbilt. But give things a little more time, and let the doctors try fixing the deadly disease before worrying about the runny nose.
The other big issue is special teams, and more than a few people have asked: Why won't Georgia hire a special teams coach?
OK, this one is a valid argument, but there are bigger issues at play here.
First, hiring an outside special teams coach means firing one of the current coaches. The NCAA regulates how many coaches a team can have, so to add one, you also have to get rid of one. And firing Willie Martinez to hire a special teams coach is not an acceptable answer (although it his sorta funny).
Secondly, it really doesn't matter whether there is a special teams coach or not. What matters is a staff-wide emphasis on the importance of special teams. It's more than about Xs and Os. It's about giving whomever is handling special teams both the talent and the time to properly prepare their units.
Think back to the field-goal block by Green. John Jancek had to fight for the ability to use Green on his team because Tony Ball was worried about his receiver getting hurt. This is the case throughout the team -- and in fairness, there'd be some outcry from fans if Green HAD gotten hurt.
I don't know what the right answers are here, but I do know this: Things aren't getting fixed right now, and hiring a special teams coach is not a catch-all solution to the problems.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Clearing up a couple of issues...