Jim Chaney must be willing to adapt to succeed at Georgia

UGA offensive coordinator Jim Chaney looks on at practice on Monday.

Welcome to your one-stop shop for all the relevant UGA football news and takes every Monday through Friday. In today’s edition, we ponder whether Jim Chaney has the ability and wherewithal to improve Georgia’s offense. That’s how I got to Memphis.

Inherently flawed

Most of Georgia’s failures this season begin and end with the offense’s inability to move the ball, which, in fans’ minds, made offensive coordinator Jim Chaney public enemy No. 1. The first-year play-caller seemed to realize that, and, in his first interview session this season, Chaney gave a mea culpa of sorts, taking the blame for UGA’s offensive woes, saying, “It all stops and starts with me.”

Someone taking some ownership for this team’s failures is likely music to many fans’ ears, but his comments on Wednesday only solidified my feeling that Chaney isn’t the right man to lead Georgia’s offense and never was. Here’s the passage, from Seth Emerson of DawgNation, that gave me pause:

Chaney also acknowledged that at times the offense tried to be more straight-ahead and physical when in fact freshman quarterback Jacob Eason was more comfortable in the shotgun.

“I do believe there are some parts of that. You’d love to be a downhill team, but you do have a young quarterback that has played in the gun more. So, you have to find some happiness there,” Chaney said. “As we work through that, sometimes it didn’t work out as well as we’d like to. There was a little contradiction with philosophies in regards to that, as we worked through it.”

If you’ve read what I’ve written about Georgia’s offense this season, you know I’m no fan of Chaney’s power run system. (I’d rather UGA ran some version of the spread.) But my opposition to Chaney’s power run offense wasn’t so much with the strategy behind it. Alabama, Stanford, Wisconsin and Michigan State are just a few teams who have shown it can work. My problem is with the mindset that usually comes with a coach trying use a power run system.

To me, it all boils down to the old school mentality that comes with power run systems. If you’re a coach who still runs this system today, it means you ignored, or at least didn’t care for, all the innovations in offense, mostly from the spread, over the last two decades. That comes with an inherent stubbornness. It means you saw all that and still thought the old way — your way — is best.

Of course, this doesn’t mean this system can’t work. Nick Saban and Alabama proved it can to the tune of four national titles. But this season, we’ve seen one thing that sets Saban apart from so many other coaches: his ability to adapt. With the speedy Jalen Hurts at quarterback, Saban decided it behooved Alabama to spread out its receivers and let him run the read option — something you wouldn’t have dreamed of Bama doing a few years ago. Although Saban almost certainly thinks his power run is the best and right way to do things, he recognizes its limitations and is always looking for other strengths that he can exploit.

Now, compare that with Chaney, who tried to square peg, round-hole Eason all season. Simply adding a few more shotgun packages to the offense would have made Eason immensely more comfortable. And in a season where almost every loss was settled by a single score, a pass or two, where Eason was completely in his comfort zone, could have made a game-changing difference. My problem with Chaney is he’s seemingly stuck in his ways and unwillingly to adjust when needed.

Dog in a dress walking on two legs.


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