First off: This is an honest question and I'm hoping to get some thoughtful conversation/input on it.
I think Gardner's biggest issue is that in his five years he's played under three OCs, three QB coaches, three offensive systems, and 3/4 of one year at receiver. When I look at it in this context, it makes a whole lot more sense to me that his play and decision-making is more like a sophomore than a 5th year senior.
If Nussmeier gets fired this year, Morris, our presumed started next year, will be on his third OC and third QB coach in three years. Which puts him on the same trajectory as Gardner. This seems to be somewhat borne out in his play this year.
I really and truly think we are missing just one thing to flip the script on this season: Good QB play. Yes, I know, our D hasn't been what was expected. But what was expected also included Peppers and Morgan (yes, I ate my lemon). We've also had various other defensive players out for some periods. When I look at the D and O-line, I thinik, yep, that's about right. Not great, but coming along.
Now, we can't run the ball. And I think we can't for the same reason we haven't been able to for five years now: We have zero tangible passing threat. Because our QB hasn't progressed as a passer. If we made teams play honest pass coverage, we'd have room to run. But we don't because we can't pass. Just like we couldn't with Denard.
I live in Seattle where a whole lot of my friends wanted Nussmeier as the head coach at Washington when Sark left. He had a great run with the Huskies as OC and was successful in Alabama, too. The guy can get it done. And, personally, I think our offensive line HAS improved this year, and it's certainly better than last year. Except, again, at QB.
So, and this is where I'm hoping folks will engage in some...ahem...civil conversation, I'd personally like to see Hoke, Mattison, and Nussmeier get one more year. I don't think it makes sense to fire them after one season or less with a new OC and I don't think it gets us much of anything in terms of improvement next year, especially at QB where I think we really need it. If there isn't a significant improvement next year, then make a change.
Thoughts? (running to closet for Nomex suit now...)