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George Pickens figures to really benefit from the addition of Todd Monken.

Georgia football winners and losers following addition of offensive coordinator Todd Monken

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Georgia football winners and losers after adding offensive coordinator Todd Monken

Winner: George Pickens 

Pickens was already going to enter the 2020 season with a ton of hype. Given his former 5-star status, strong freshman season and standout performance in the Sugar Bowl, the rising sophomore figures to be high on many preseason accolade lists.

And that was before the addition of Monken and his aptitude with a vertical passing offense. Now Pickens might be able to take his game to an even greater statistical height.

In Monken’s last season as a play-caller in 2018 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Mike Evans had his best season from a yardage standpoint. He hauled in 86 passes for 1,524 yards, which was good for 17.7 yards per catch. He also added eight touchdown catches as well. All three seasons Monken served as the offensive coordinator in Tampa Bay, Evans finished with over 1,000 yards.

Even this past season in Cleveland, both Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry finished with over 1,000 receiving yards. Monken’s passing system, even going back to his time at Oklahoma State where Justin Blackmon shined, is incredibly friendly to wide receivers.

With Monken’s system in place, Pickens will have a chance to become only the second receiver in program history to top 1,000 yards in a season.

The only other receiver in program history to do so, Terrence Edwards, had a pretty classic reaction when thinking about what Pickens might able to do in 2020.

Loser: The narrative around Kirby Smart

When Nick Saban spoke about the need to evolve on offense at the national championship game last week, many Georgia fans assumed Saban was taking a shot at Smart, given the struggles on that side of the ball Georgia had this past season.

But with the addition of Monken — who has a heavy background in Air Raid principles — Smart is making it clear that he isn’t going to just line-up and play man-ball to win games.

With the demotion of James Coley from the offensive coordinator position — Georgia has said that Coley will remain on staff as assistant head coach but has not specified more than that — it’s clear Smart was not happy with the direction of Georgia’s offense last season.

Georgia isn’t going to completely abandon the run next season, nor will it suddenly focus less on its defense. Smart is always going to lean on those two aspects to win. The addition of Monken, will allow Georgia to still do that, though in a more aesthetically pleasing way going forward.

Football coaches are notoriously stubborn, and Smart is no different. But bringing in  Monken allows Smart to show that he is willing to evolve his gameplans and not rely on a 2012 Alabama blueprint to win.

Winner: Jamie Newman

Newman’s best attribute at Wake Forest was his deep passing ability. According to Pro Football Focus, Newman had the second-highest grade in the sport on deep passes last season at Wake Forest. He also ranked second in tight-window throws.

Monken’s NFL offenses have often relied on those same concepts. In 2018, Tampa Bay led the league in passing, and that was with Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick playing quarterback.

Adding Monken in with Newman’s skillset is a perfect mixture of scheme and talent. The pairing between offensive coordinator and quarterback should allow Newman to consistently show off what he does best.

Related: Comparing new Georgia QB Jamie Newman to Jake Fromm

The deep passing game will also help Georgia in the explosive plays category, which was one of the major struggles during the 2019 season. Georgia ranked tied for 65th in passing plays of 20-yards or more in 2019. The four teams to make the College Football Playoff all ranked in the top-15, with national champion LSU finishing first in that category.

Newman figured to be stepping into a better situation than Fromm did in 2019 with the additions of Marcus Rosemy, Arian Smith, Jermaine Burton, Justin Robinson and tight end Tre’ Mckitty. Now with Monken tailoring the offense to his skillset, Newman could potentially live up to the expectations bestowed upon on him by Mark Richt.

Loser: Jake Fromm

Fromm is a loser in that the sense that he really could’ve benefitted from playing in a system called by an NFL play-caller. Monken has worked with NFL quarterbacks and likely would’ve had Fromm doing some of the things NFL teams want to see from him.

Monken was able to get video game numbers out of the likes of Nick Mullens at Southern Mis. and Brandon Weeden at Oklahoma State. Fromm no doubt would’ve been able to put numbers that at the very least would’ve raised his NFL draft profile.

One only has to look at what Joe Brady did with Joe Burrow this past season. Brady came from the NFL, and was able to create an offense that brought the best out of Burrow.

Expecting Monken and Fromm to possibly replicate that would be unfair to both parties. But Monken would’ve represented the best play-caller and offensive mind he would’ve gotten to work with in his time at Georgia.

For Georgia to get that kind of an offensive coordinator just over a week after Fromm announces his departure seems a tad cruel to the talented quarterback.

Winner: Zamir White 

For all the talk about the passing game under Todd Monken, it’s not like Georgia will abandon the run game. And the biggest beneficiary under Monken from an individual standpoint could end up being White.

The running back will enter his redshirt sophomore season as the Bulldogs’ leading returning rusher. He had a strong game in the Sugar Bowl, rushing for 92 yards and a touchdown in the win. ESPN went ahead and labeled White as Georgia’s breakout player for the 2020 season.

As for why there should be some optimism for White, running backs have had outstanding seasons with Monken as the offensive coordinator. Nick Chubb finished second in the NFL in rushing this past year. At Oklahoma State, Joesph Randle ran for over 2,600 yards and 38 touchdowns across Monken’s two seasons as the offensive coordinator. In his final year as the head coach at Southern Miss, the Golden Eagles had two running backs top 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.

White is used to great expectations. That will be the case once again entering 2020. But with Monken’s vertical offense potentially pulling defenders out of the box, that could allow White and his fellow running backs to feast next season.

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