In case you missed it, Cornelius Washington (former Georgia Bulldog defensive lineman) is battling for a roster spot on the Chicago Bears this season; so far he’s made a few plays, but he’s still got some work to do in order to solidify a spot.
That said, he credits his ability to quickly adapt, to a new team and a new scheme, to the coaching he received under the defensive staff at Georgia:
What has surprised you the most at this point in your NFL career?
“That I haven’t had to radically alter my technique to play in the NFL. My fundamentals are sound, thanks to the coaching at Georgia [emphasis added]. It was somewhat similar to what I am getting right now. That definitely makes things a little easier. (Beth Gorr, Scout)
That’s something I’ve heard before, as Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin had a similar opinion of former Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones:
The Steelers say the best thing about Jones’ game is that it might be ready-made for the NFL. Pittsburgh has had a habit over the years of drafting undersized 4-3 defensive ends and transforming them into outside linebackers in the 3-4 formation it has so successfully fielded since 1982. But those transitions always took time, as the Steelers drained the players’ defensive end instincts and taught them how to think, move and react in space, as outside linebackers must do.
No such learning curve is needed for Jones, who played 3-4 rush linebacker at Georgia. His coverage responsibilities for the Bulldogs weren’t extensive, but dropping isn’t a new skill he must master, and that key distinction should enable him to start making an impact early. (Don Banks, SI)
Such sentiments are sure to impress future defensive prospects looking to remain in-state and on the NFL’s radar; and if you think it’s all about the defensive lineman and linebackers, think again: former safety Shawn Williams is holding his own, too.
…Williams, the Bengals 87th overall pick in the 3rd round, has come out swinging. Williams has made the transition from the SEC to the Cincinnati Bengals safety position look easy [emphasis added]. Williams shined in the Oklahoma drill, shedding off both offensive players in two times he competed and successfully tackling the ball carrier both times. Williams has been all over the place during the last two preseason games recording a total of 12 tackles through both games. (Brian Dugan, Stripe Hype)
To be fair, Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogletree have each garnered their fair share of criticism for poor tackling, but any Georgia fan who watched them play over the years can tell you they were known more for the hits they did make, than the ones they didn’t; and for the most part, both were capable of making plays (and often did)—both on the ball and on the ball carrier.
Does that mean the defensive staff is the best in the business? No, not yet. There are still plenty of conversations to be had about development because, for all the talent the Dawgs possessed on defense last season, there was still an overriding belief they underachieved on the football field; what it does tell you is the basic coaching foundation is there, and the defensive staff at Georgia is doing a good job of instilling that into the players they are molding for the next level; that couldn’t always be said with any degree of confidence.
So, the natural question is this: if these guys were so good, why did the Bulldogs play so inconsistently on defense last season? My response: any lack of consistency was likely due to individual attitudes, not poor coaching…and that, friends, is a whole different conversation.