When the Tennessee Vols hired Jim Chaney as the program’s offensive coordinator during the offseason, one of the things fans were most excited about was the positive impact he was expected to have on UT’s quarterbacks.
Specifically, fans were hoping Chaney would help turn Jarrett Guarantano into a productive SEC quarterback (like he did with Jonathan Crompton at Tennessee in 2009).
Through four games this season, Guarantano has looked like anything but a productive SEC quarterback.
Part of the reason for Guarantano’s struggles early this season is the fact that his footwork/mechanics have been terrible.
Watched this over and over and I still don’t get how this happens pic.twitter.com/Z4QmRNrv1e
— zach ragan (@zachTNT) September 22, 2019
Everything about that throw was wrong. His feet were never in the proper position to hit a wide open Dominick Wood-Anderson.
What’s frustrating for fans, however, is that Guarantano’s poor mechanics are fixable via coaching.
So why is the redshirt junior quarterback struggling so badly this season?
I think it’s mostly because Jim Chaney is a “walk around coordinator” and Chris Weinke is the actual quarterbacks coach.
Weinke, who spent two years as a quarterbacks coach with the Los Angeles Rams and then a year as an analyst at Alabama before joining Jeremy Pruitt’s staff as a running backs coach in 2018, in his first season as a quarterbacks coach at the college level.
And I’ve seen nothing to suggest that he should be a quarterbacks coach in the SEC. Guarantano hasn’t improved any this season. In fact, he’s probably regressed after having Tyson Helton as his position coach last season.
If Guarantano has regressed, what kind of negative impact has Weinke had on redshirt freshman JT Shrout and true freshman Brian Maurer?
No track record of success
Jared Goff has turned into one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. But his transition from struggling rookie to successful veteran had nothing to do with Weinke, who coached the former California quarterback in 2016.
Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson, who played with the Rams from 1983-1987 blasted Weinke in 2016, questioning his credentials as a quarterbacks coach.
“Show me the proof,” Dickerson said. “Show me your history. What history do you have working with quarterbacks, developing quarterbacks? Then I can believe. And I just believe that they don’t have the right coaches in place for him, and that’s what it comes down to.
Goff’s career took off in 2017 after Weinke wasn’t retained by new head coach Sean McVay.
What’s the solution?
Obviously, I believe the Vols should move on from Weinke. I think his presence on Tennessee’s staff has been detrimental to quarterback development.
The Vols should then move Chaney to quarterbacks coach. He worked wonders with Crompton in 2009 at Tennessee. And he helped beleaguered former UT quarterback Nathan Peterman turn his career around at Pittsburgh in 2015.
Unlike Weinke, Chaney has a track record of success with quarterbacks. Right now, the Vols’ best quarterbacks coach is walking around visiting different position groups in practice, while an inferior coach is coaching the most important position on the field.
What kind of sense does that make?
If Chaney was the dedicated quarterbacks coach, perhaps we’d see a different version of Guarantano this season.
As for the open coaching spot. The Vols would still have five offensive coaches if they let Weinke go. Pruitt could use vacancy to hire a safeties coach and let defensive coordinator/secondary coach Derrick Ansley coach cornerbacks.
This seems like an easy and necessary move that Pruitt should make. Just because Weinke spent time at Alabama, doesn’t mean he’s an infallible position coach.
That’s a lesson that Pruitt needs to quickly learn.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports