Week 7 Wrap
The Alex Smith Project
Alex Smith has not looked like a No. 1 overall pick thus far.
The 49ers didn't just make one small error to transform themselves from a perennial Super Bowl contender to a laughing stock. It took a lot of cunning and foolish moves by owner John York, but he somehow got it done.
York orchestrated the worst error of all this past offseason, a mistake so extreme that it will haunt San Francisco for the remainder of this decade. They drafted Alex Smith.
The 49ers panicked. But, can you blame them? After winning five Super Bowls with Joe Montana and Steve Young under center, San Francisco desperately needed a quarterback; the team was 2-14 in 2004 with Tim Rattay and Ken Dorsey as starting signal callers. The team chose Smith to be the face of the franchise over the next 15 years.
We are only two games into the Alex Smith era, but I think we can all safely agree that he will not be placed in the same category as Montana. He has only played two games after dazzling the citizens of Utah with his brilliance, but he looks like the next Ryan Leaf and Tim Couch -- and not the next Young.
Smith had the best game of his career Sunday against Washington, completing 8-of-16 passes for 92 yards and an interception. He also fumbled thrice. This was one week after he threw four interceptions against Indianapolis.
Granted, Troy Aikman, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning all struggled in the first few games of their careers. Smith looks just as lost as they did and may slowly mature into a solid NFL signal caller.
However, that is all he will be. Solid. The 49ers made a grave mistake by choosing Smith with the No. 1 overall selection in April's draft, and not waiting until USC quarterback Matt Leinart was available in spring of 2006.
Leinart, who is almost guaranteed to become a Pro Bowler in the NFL, would have been a great player for the 49ers to build their franchise around. By waiting one year, they could have acquired some offensive linemen, a proven receiver and a running back better than Kevan Barlow -- as if there is a ball carrier worse than him. San Francisco could have traded down from No. 1 and acquired a player like outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, running back Cadillac Williams or cornerback Antrel Rolle.
The 49ers would have undoubtedly finished with the worst record in the NFL again, allowing themselves to draft Leinart. By waiting one year and witnessing its young players mature, San Francisco would have been in better position to make a playoff run toward the end of this decade.
Instead, 49ers fans will have to hope that Smith does not turn out to be the next Joey Harrington. Meanwhile, another organization will have the pleasure of watching Leinart command their team to multiple playoff berths during his career.
San Francisco has plenty to be angry about.
The Joe Vitt Good Moves of the Week: Maybe Joe Vitt should permanently take over for Mike Martz. Vitt somehow beat the Saints without his starting quarterback and top two receivers. He also called 22 running plays and 29 throws for Jamie Martin. It’s safe to say that Martz would have called at least 40 passes for Martin.
Uncle Charley Casserly’s Offensive Line: David Carr was sacked five times in Sunday’s 38-20 loss to the Texans. He has now been sacked 35 times this season, and is on pace to be driven into the ground 93 times, breaking his own NFL record by 17. On a drive at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Carr was sacked on three consecutive plays, resulting in a fourth-and-29. One sequence later, a Carr sack resulted in a fumble recovery, which was returned for a touchdown.
Houston Texans: The Texas jettisoned former offensive coordinator Chris Palmer a few weeks ago. They might want to get rid of his replacement, Joe Pendry. With 2:12 remaining in the first quarter, David Carr threw an incompletion on third-and-2 at the Colts’ 41-yard line. Pendry called a pass play, even though Domanick Davis was running the ball effectively. On the Texans’ next possession, Carr threw an interception at the 50-yard line. Once again, Pendry neglected the run at a crucial moment in the game.
Minnesota Vikings: It’s a miracle that the Vikings somehow found a way to win. I’m still not sure how it happened. Minnesota was responsible for allowing three sacks, fumbling twice and registering one penalty on offense. Credit the Packers for blowing a 17-point lead in the second half.
Green Bay Packers: Speaking of which, how in the world do you lose a 17-point lead to the Minnesota Vikings? The Packers are now 1-5 and look the worst team in the NFL not named the 49ers or Texans. Mike Sherman should be fired for this recent loss.
New Orleans Saints: Speaking of teams that surrendered large leads to bad teams, how did the Saints permit the Rams to come back from a 14-0 deficit without Marc Bulger, Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce? New Orleans has underachieved for years, and owner Tom Benson cannot allow this to continue. Jim Haslett needs to be fired right now.
Tennessee Titans: Tennessee is another team that yielded a double-digit lead to a poor opponent. However, you cannot blame this one on poor coaching. Chris Brown, who had rushed for 37 yards on 10 carries, left the game with an injury in the second quarter. The Titans didn’t score for the remainder of Sunday’s game against the Cardinals.
Miami Dolphins: Maybe Nick Saban should rethink his whole Ricky Williams stance. Williams carried the ball six times for -1 yards against the Chiefs, while No. 2 overall pick Ronnie Brown rushed for 95 yards on eight rushes. Saban should stop wasting his time with Williams and give Brown more carries.
Kansas City Chiefs: Is there any coach who is happier than Dick Vermeil after a victory? Every time the Chiefs win, Vermeil looks like he’s going to cry during his press conference.
Philadelphia Eagles: I guess Andy Reid didn’t hear ESPN analyst Tom Jackson pleading for the Eagles to run the ball more during Sunday NFL Countdown. Brian Westbrook only received 10 carries, while Donovan McNabb threw the ball a whopping 54 times.
Detroit Lions: Lions fans have plenty to be excited about. They saw a real offense on the field -- and it wasn’t the other team. Garcia was 22-of-34 for 210 yards against the Browns, giving Detroit its first legitimate victory since Week 1.
San Diego Chargers: The Chargers might be the best 3-4 team in NFL history. Their four losses have been by a combined 12 points.
Baltimore Ravens: Ray Lewis wants a new contract. If he gets it, he’ll be even more overpaid than he already is. Lewis and the Ravens’ defense could not stop Thomas Jones on Sunday, as the Bears runner gained 139 yards on 25 carries. Lewis blamed last season’s debacle on the 3-4 defense. It turns out that he has simply lost a step.
Indianapolis Colts: You won’t really see it in the box score, but the Indianapolis Colts struggled to stop the run once again. Domanick Davis rushed for 98 yards on 28 carries, a performance that was responsible for keeping the Texans within striking distance for much of Sunday’s game.
Kerry Collins: The AP Wire offered its predictions for the NFL this weekend. Next to the Raiders-Bills pick, the following was written: “Randy Moss is banged up. Kerry Collins is vulnerable.” Vulnerable? Did he break up with his girlfriend? Is it his time of the month? Are his in-laws visiting?
CBS: CBS announcer Randy Cross said this when he was talking about the development of Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer: “Eventually, they’ll mature into a Drew Bledsoe.” Randy, you think Roethlisberger and Palmer are going to get worse? Both are already better than Bledsoe. You think two phenomenal signal callers will worsen and become immobile statues?
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Super Bowl XLIII Live Blog
2007: NFL Draft: Day 1 Review Blog - April 28
Quarterback Rankings - June 25
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Chief Carl Has Lost a Step - Sept. 9
The NFL Cheated the Patriots - Sept. 16
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NFL Week 18 Wrap-Up - Jan. 6
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2008 Championship Sunday Diary - Jan. 20
Super Bowl XLII Live Blog - Feb. 3
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