Former Bulldog Jake Fromm suffers wretched first NFL start

After the better part of two seasons in NFL cold storage, former Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm was thawed out and wheeled out for his first pro start Sunday. And, lo, wouldn’t you know it, there across the way would be a living, breathing flashback to his worst days as a Bulldog.

Such a long wait for a chance to show himself. And, still, he’d find himself looking for – and not finding – a way to beat Jalen Hurts.

What followed essentially would be both Fromm’s first real day and his worst day as a pro, rolled into one. He generated next to nothing in working two-plus quarters in the Giants 34-10 loss to Philadelphia, completing but 6-of-17 passes for a mere 25 yards, with an interception before being returned to the bench. In the eight possessions he oversaw, the Giants gained 78 yards and scored three points.

“I don’t think it gets much worse than that,” Fromm told the Giants media postgame.

The saving grace for Georgia fans who made Fromm one of their favorite players after he took the Bulldogs to three SEC title games – winning one – was that the game wasn’t televised anywhere locally.

For who wants to watch a train wreck with replays?

And who would want to watch a player who may have had Fromm’s name stitched across the back his jersey but scarcely resembled the one remembered for winning 35 of 42 starts for the Bulldogs?

He was no imposter, though. That really was Fromm the ex-Bulldog. Just as it really was Jalen Hurts the ex-Alabama quarterback on the same field. The two had hooked up in national and conference championship games at opposite ends of 2018. In one, Hurts came to the Tide’s rescue after subbing in for Tua Tagovailoa. In the other, he in turn was relieved by Tagovailoa. Both meetings ended the same, though, in excruciating Georgia losses.

This time Fromm was breaking in his new New York gear against Hurts, the more established fellow dressed as an Eagle. The result was a game not remotely as watchable as those the two had competed in before, and a loss that was not remotely in question.

Such a tortured unveiling for such a good guy. Fromm’s Sunday was painfully modest from the start. His first pass was a completion – that lost four yards. His next four dropbacks produced three incompletions and a sack. He’d finish the first half – with his Giants locked in a grim 3-3 affair – completing 5-of-15 for 18 yards.

His first pass of the second half, a 20-yard throw in the direction of Kenny Golladay was intercepted. Five plays later the Eagles had a go-ahead touchdown.

After Fromm took a second sack and went three-and-out on his next possession, the Giants had seen enough, inserting Mike Gleanon for Fromm with seven minutes left in the third quarter. He and his abysmal stat line were done for the day.

“I decided to make the move going from Jake to Mike because we weren’t getting anything going offensively,” Giants coach Joe Judge said. “I thought there were some opportunities we did have in the first half and early in the second half that were out there for us to make.”

Fromm put it all on himself. “I wish none of the coaches would have been put in that situation (of changing out the quarterback). I wish I would have gone in, handled my business, led us to victory and we’d be having a nice ride home.”

While on the interception it appeared Fromm may have taken a blow to the head, the quarterback refused to use that as a crutch. “That was tough. I felt something happen in mid-throw. That’s football, stuff happens and you have to respond and answer. I didn’t respond and answer enough,” he said.

In his postgame presser, Fromm also included a vow: “Man, I’m going to learn from it, I’m going to grind, I’m going to work my tail off to get better and play better like I know I can.”

Sunday was such an important day for Fromm, if for no other reason than to re-introduce him to football society. Playing with a substandard cast and a decimated offensive line, working out of a playbook he has spent three weeks cramming to learn, facing an opponent still grinding for a place in the playoffs, he had no business expecting anything glorious from this first start.

Asked this week by the New York Post about what kind of NFL career he hoped to craft, Fromm said, “Hopefully, a career where I can decide when I’m done and not the other way around.” That lofty goal sadly and certainly wasn’t furthered Sunday.

Many of us suspected he had goofed in leaving Georgia early for the NFL draft, given how his skill set – a great head for the game but an average arm – figured to leave the league’s talent scouts lukewarm. From Fromm’s viewpoint – the only one that really matters – he had done about all he could in Athens and was anxious to explore a new horizon.

Sure enough, he lasted until the fifth round of the 2020 draft, when Buffalo took him. Besides the bleak weather, that city offered little chance for career advancement with Josh Allen on the payroll. Fromm was isolated in last season as a break-glass-in-case-of-COVID emergency backup. He took nary a regular-season snap, not then and not in 2021, until the Giants rescued him from the Bills practice squad at the first of December.

And it then took a heaping measure of desperation to put Fromm in a position to play. The Giants had lost starter Daniel Jones for the season due to a neck injury. Backup Glennon was gawd-awful over New York’s previous three games, which the Giants lost by a combined score of 78-36. A 4-win team with nothing to lose turned to Fromm, who got his first regular season playing time last week in mop-up duty. Until Sunday, he had the benefit of being the unknown.

He played well to his new audience, saying earlier this week, “As a guy from the south, especially in Georgia, I never really envisioned myself being in New York. But man, it’s an awesome place, got so much history, so much culture, got great people here,” he said. “It’s awesome, this is New York City, this is the city in the United States. Man, this is it, doesn’t get any bigger than this.”

He will find out, also, just how fickle the great city can be.

And whether Fromm will validate that decision to leave Georgia early is now just as doubtful as ever.

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