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  1. #1
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Around the NFC West (Part 1): Alex sMYTH and the Niners

    Around the NFC West (Part 1): Alex Smyth and the Niners

    Note: This will be my first article in a three-part series on the Rams’ Division rivals.

    There are two things the national media loves:

    (1) teams that make big offseason acquisitions; and
    (2) the Niners.

    As the Niners were one of the most active teams on the free agent market (landing, most notably, CB Nate Clemments) and, for the second consecutive year, had two first round draft choices, the pundits are salivating in anticipation of the next San Francisco ascension.

    Sure, the team still has a pedestrian WR corps (at best) and needs a lot of improvement to go from a defense that was last in the NFL in points allowed in 2006 to one that could support a playoff contender. But don’t worry, the pundits will say… the new guys will take care of these problems.

    Maybe, maybe not. But the real problem in San Francisco is the guy who the media has mistakenly portrayed as a rising star: QB Alex Smith. Countless writers have pointed out his “dramatic improvement” from his rookie year to his Sophomore campaign. True enough. He did raise his QB rating by 34 points. Of course, that merely allowed him to improve from an abysmal rating of 40.8, to a mediocre 74.8 rating.

    The rating only tells part of the story, though. Consider these facts:

    • Among the nineteen NFL QBs who started at least 14 games in 2006 (Smith started all 16), Smith was sixteenth in passing yards. Behind him were two QBs who have since become second string players (David Carr, Brad Johnson) and one who rushed for over 1,000 yards (Michael Vick).
    • Smith had fewer TD passes than any QB with 14 or more starts except Carr and Johnson.
    • Smith remains wildly inconsistent. In 2006, he had four games with a passer rating of 100 or better, and six games with a rating below 55.
    So the statement “Smith showed dramatic improvement,” while not entirely lacking in a factual premise, conveys a false implication – that Smith is a good NFL QB. Therein lies the myth of the Smith and the Niners. Right now, he is not a good QB and, without a good QB, the likelihood of the Niners becoming a playoff contender is highly remote (in this context, I note that they are not the 2006 Bears who, with a great defense and special teams, were able to overcome the lack of a good QB).

    Can Smith continue to improve to the point where he will merit his #1 overall selection? Time will tell. But, from what I've seen, coupled with the fact that Smith will, once again, be coached by a new offensive coordinator (not to mention all the new receivers he'll be working with), I wouldn't bet on it happening any time soon.

    St. Louis is located in the “Show-me State.” So, until he shows me he can play well on a consistent basis, the Niners’ QB, to me, will simply be Alex Smyth.
    Last edited by AvengerRam; -05-09-2007 at 01:17 PM.


  2. #2
    Brain Daddy's Avatar
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    Re: Around the NFC West (Part 1): Alex sMYTH and the Niners

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam View Post
    1. Sure, the team still has a pedestrian WR corps (at best)

    2. and needs a lot of improvement to go from a defense that was last in the NFL in points allowed in 2006 to one that could support a playoff contender.

    3. Maybe, maybe not. But the real problem in San Francisco is the guy who the media has mistakenly portrayed as a rising star: QB Alex Smith.

    4. Consider these facts:
    • Among the nineteen NFL QBs who started at least 14 games in 2006 (Smith started all 16), Smith was sixteenth in passing yards. Behind him were two QBs who have since become second string players (David Carr, Brad Johnson) and one who rushed for over 1,000 yards (Michael Vick).
    • Smith had fewer TD passes than any QB with 14 or more starts except Carr and Johnson.


    5. Smith remains wildly inconsistent. In 2006, he had four games with a passer rating of 100 or better, and six games with a rating below 55.

    6. So the statement “Smith showed dramatic improvement,” while not entirely lacking in a factual premise, conveys a false implication – that Smith is a good NFL QB.

    7. Therein lies the myth of the Smith and the Niners. Right now, he is not a good QB and, without a good QB, the likelihood of the Niners becoming a playoff contender is highly remote (in this context, I note that they are not the 2006 Bears who, with a great defense and special teams, were able to overcome the lack of a good QB).
    Interesting read. I've broken down your article into numbered points, to which I've responded below:

    1. There's no way our WRs are still pedestrian. They've been worse than that for the last couple of years. Pedestrian is an upgrade, my man

    2. The improvement needed to make the defense playoff caliber is less than you realize. The defense from weeks 1-8 was quite possibly one of the worst I've ever seen. During weeks 5-9, Nolan altered the starting lineup and in week 9, after changing out 5 different starters, the starters were set for the rest of the season. From that point on, the defense was nowhere near as bad. I would describe it as "average". The defensive improvement doesn't show up in the final stats, however, because of just how bad it was for the first 7 games. From a talent standpoint, the pieces for a good defense are there. The biggest obstacle to defensive success will be team chemistry with all the new additions.

    3. In what way would this be a mistake? The term "rising star" implies that he's on his way to being good, not that he's already good. Only time will tell if referring to Smith as a "rising star" is a mistake.

    4. If your definition of success depends upon a minimum yardage and touchdown requirement, then it might be awhile before Smith meets with your approval. Norv's offense is a run-first offense and he isn't going to be throwing the ball alot. It should come as no surprise that most of the players ahead of Smith attempted more passes than he did as well. On a somewhat unrelated note, I think it's also worth point that none of the players ahead of Smith are younger or less experienced.

    5. I would disagree here as well. During the month of November, for example Smith posted ratings of 54.7, 88.8, 105.9, and 50.1. Despite the varying ratings, Smith was pretty consistent during this stretch. During this time, the offense was riding the legs of Gore and Smith was just a game manager. I can only think of a few games this season where Smith's play was a detriment to the team.

    6. Saying Smith showed a dramatic improvement implies nothing more than "Smith made a dramatic improvement" and if you take anything else from that statement, you're reading too much into it. You'd have had a point if "experts" neglected to mention just how bad Smith was his rookie year, but it's something they love to bring up. It's not as if they're making it out like he was an okay player who suddenly became a superstar a la Drew Brees.

    7. Smith may not have been a good QB last year, but he wasn't a bad one, either; he was middle of the pack. As of right now, though, Smith hasn't played a down of football this year, but it seems as if you're operating under the assumption that he's as good as he's going to get. Supposing for a minute that's the case and he is done growing, he has a pretty good running game behind him, and if the defense is at least as good it was during the last 9 games, the Niners should have a decent shot at the playoffs in a weak NFC.

    I'm not sure if Smith will ever live up to that #1 overall pick, but if he plays well enough for the team to win, I can live with that.

    While Smith's performance will help determine how the team finishes, I don't know that he's the deciding factor. There are some other things on which you touched but didn't expand, and I think you could have made a better case against the Niners making the playoffs had you run with those a bit more rather than focusing on just Alex Smith.

    I didn't buy him as a quarterback. He's just so stiff, especially when he drops back to pass. Really stiff. He reminds me of Kurt Warner.
    -- Kevan Barlow on Adam Sandler's performance in The Longest Yard

  3. #3
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Around the NFC West (Part 1): Alex sMYTH and the Niners

    I appreciate your point of view, BD, and I think you make some valid points.

    The point we really disagree on is how important it is to have an above average QB to go from a team that wins 6-8 games, to one that can really be a factor in the conference. I think Smith will hold the Niners back. Teams will focus on Gore and dare Smith to beat them. I don't think he consistently can.

    Of course, these are just opinions. As they say, "that's why they play the games."

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    Re: Around the NFC West (Part 1): Alex sMYTH and the Niners

    Smith played well against the Rams last year. In the game in SF he threw the heck out of the ball, making some impressive throws. The kid has the talent, Linehan thinks he is super also. Yes, he is missing Turner, and that may hurt him a lot. But he showed me a lot in his 2nd year with an offense missing quality WR's. In short, he still scares the heck out of me this year. And I hope I'm wrong.

  5. #5
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    Re: Around the NFC West (Part 1): Alex sMYTH and the Niners

    I find that most of the national media seem to be a little "light in the loafers", not that there's anything wrong with that", and this might explain their infatuation with the team not-to-be-nameed here?
    RnD

    GO RAMS!!

  6. #6
    blood85's Avatar
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    Re: Around the NFC West (Part 1): Alex sMYTH and the Niners

    He's weak just like the rest of the ******.

  7. #7
    Brain Daddy's Avatar
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    Re: Around the NFC West (Part 1): Alex sMYTH and the Niners

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam View Post
    The point we really disagree on is how important it is to have an above average QB to go from a team that wins 6-8 games, to one that can really be a factor in the conference. I think Smith will hold the Niners back. Teams will focus on Gore and dare Smith to beat them. I don't think he consistently can.
    Okay, I feel ya then. I generally tend to undervalue the importance of the QB more than most. I think you can get by with an average QB provided the offensive system and the supporting cast (RB, OLine, Defense) are there.

    Your comment about teams daring Smith to beat raises an important point. Later in the season teams did try to force Smith to beat them, and he wasn't able to consistently do so. The game against the Saints would be a good example of that. He definitely has to step up when teams are focusing Gore. If he can, I think the offense will be much better. If not, there may not be much improvement at all. As you said, you think he can't. Personally, I'm uncertain, though I'd like to think he will.

    I didn't buy him as a quarterback. He's just so stiff, especially when he drops back to pass. Really stiff. He reminds me of Kurt Warner.
    -- Kevan Barlow on Adam Sandler's performance in The Longest Yard

  8. #8
    The Shredder Guest

    Re: Around the NFC West (Part 1): Alex sMYTH and the Niners

    STL is a small market team. Combine that with the fact that STL doesn't make the playoffs, then of course the Rams wont get any media love. But then again what's the big deal about media love anyways?

  9. #9
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Around the NFC West (Part 1): Alex sMYTH and the Niners

    Quote Originally Posted by The Shredder View Post
    STL is a small market team. Combine that with the fact that STL doesn't make the playoffs, then of course the Rams wont get any media love. But then again what's the big deal about media love anyways?
    Did you even read the article?

    The subject was not the lack of "media love" for the Rams. Rather, it was the media's overly positive spins on the Niners and, particularly, Alex Smith.

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