Let me go on the record and say that I am not trying to stir any pots or throw any further negativity in the direction of the Georgia Football program, there’s plenty of that to go around lately, but after reading some comments from folks stating that defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s stay at Georgia is starting to eerily mirror that of the one he had in Cleveland, I was curious to note where the similarities existed.
Now, if you feel you’re going to take issue with me at the end of this post, I implore you to stop now and read another; but if you’re curious—and I have to emphatically state again, curiosity is the motive here—then read on, and take everything you see here for what it’s worth; no more, no less.
With that bit of housekeeping out of the way, we begin…
Some of the more intelligent conversation (and I realize this really depends on your definition of the word “intelligent”) about Grantham is he’s always been a bit of a curmudgeon, from a coaching standpoint. His approach to teaching, at times, can rub people the the wrong way— coaches and players alike—and it can be tough to relate to him on a professional level because he’s so sure that his scheme is infallible.
That said, he doesn’t take to criticism well and, when he is challenged on, he takes a defensive staff and makes it clear that the lack of success is less about his scheme than it is about the players who are attempting to execute it on the field.
All of the above, apparently, had a great deal to do with why Grantham’s tenure with the Cleveland Browns ended so abrubtly—and by “ended”, I mean went down in flames.
By now, you might be wondering how this relates to what’s happening with Grantham at Georgia, well, if you read enough interviews, watch enough video, read between the lines of any major publication, or simply use your own eyes, it’s not hard to see that this season has not gone as planned—even with the youth being what it is, there is a palpable air of confusion as to how and why things are this bad.
And while you could just as easily point to the injuries, offensive line inconsistency, or questionable preparation, the majority of the onus appears to fall on the defense’s inability to play up to its potential each and every game.
Now, for the sake of discussion, I’ll lay out some of the things I’ve read and heard in the points below—and please keep in mind that none of this is verifiable, just speculation–and then refer to the attached quotes from a post, written better than five-years ago, about the reason Grantham was let out of his contract with the Cleveland Browns.
(Note: I did reach out to the author of the article referenced in the link above and, although Mr. Pluto could remember very little about Grantham’s time in Cleveland, after all it was better than five years ago, he did note that Grantham’s lack of success with the Browns could just as easily have been attributed to the organization’s inability to find a good fit for the defensive coordinator job, in general; just thought I’d mention that point as well).
Point #1: Grantham and Richt could potentially be at odds with each other over the performance of the defense this season—perhaps an NFL defense is too complex for a group of true freshman and Grantham, rather than simplify, decided it was best to stick to the plan…no matter the outcome.
If this is the case, and Richt didn’t agree with Grantham’s approach, it could cause some degree of tension between the two—obviously.
It makes little sense to debate the politics behind the firing of Browns defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
The bottom line was a bad defense and a head coach that no longer seemed in the same book, much less on the same page, as his coordinator.
When that happens, someone has to go. (Terry Pluto, cleveland.com)
Point #2: Continued disappointment over the lack of progression by the defense, after three seasons under Grantham.
Georgia ranks near the bottom in nearly every defensive category and continues to have problems stopping the run—in particular mobile quarterbacks.
When Todd Grantham arrived, the Browns couldn’t stop the run.
Three years later, they still couldn’t stop the run, ranking 29th out of 32 teams by allowing 4.5 yards per carry. That’s horrible. In the end, it cost the Browns a playoff berth. (Terry Pluto, cleveland.com)
Point #3: Players and coaches are frustrated.
I don’t know how much truth there is to it, but a few friends of mine, who were in attendance at the Auburn game, even mentioned seeing defensive players on the sidelines arguing amongst each other. If that’s true, I’m sure it’s not a first, but such things have been known to cause discord in the locker room if left unchecked.
…Supposedly, Grantham did not appreciate some of Crennel’s suggestions this season. Some players saw that, and it created problems. The game is hard enough when the coaches are pulling together, so it’s a guaranteed loser when members of the staff are drifting apart.
While the similarities between Cleveland and Athens certainly appear to be there, it is important to note that a good bit of what’s been said, in both instances, is debatable depending on who you ask. And, as the Senator pointed out in his post, the players do play hard for Grantham and genuinely love the guy as a coach and teacher—so there’s that.
Again, take it all for what it’s worth and see how it all plays out over the next three months or so.
I said on yesterday, I’m not calling for slips, and I stick by that, but I cannot see a situation where Grantham returns next season. Quite frankly, I’ve felt that way since the Vanderbilt loss; I just no longer see him wanting to deal with the mounting criticism and finger-pointing, and if he gets a head coaching offer or the NFL comes calling again, I can see him bolting.
However, that’s just my opinion, there are certainly others who think otherwise.