Tag Archives: Alex Smith

Looking Passed Alex Smith

When people hear the name “Alex Smith,” there are usually two reactions: “game manager” and “meh.”   He is not the NFL quarterback who scares fans of opposing teams and when fans rank the top starting quarterbacks in the league, names like Stafford and (Eli) Manning come before his. . . and that’s just ridiculous.

Smith’s journey started at the University of Utah, while being coached by Urban Meyer – he put up impressive numbers after starting just two seasons: 66% completion percentage, 48 TDs, 8 Ints, 1072 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns.   Those numbers make it obvious why he was taken first overall in the 2005 draft by the 49ers. . . at least at the time it was obvious.  Who knew that 23 picks later the Green Bay Packers would snatch up Aaron Rodgers?

For the rest of their careers, Smith and Rodgers have been linked and it’s not in the most complimentary of ways.  Football pundits scoff at the Niners – in hindsight – saying that the 49ers passed up on an all-time great and for who?  Alex Smith.

Never does anyone say “What if Aaron Rodgers got drafted by the 49ers?  Would he still be the Aaron Rodgers we all know now?”  The answer is: “Probably not.”  You see, Alex Smith was thrown into the fire – literally.  He was expected to pull off miracles with a below average roster, a clueless front office and had to deal with this stellar list of head coaches: Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary and Jim Tomisula.   Aaron Rodgers?  He got to sit behind a hall of fame quarterback for three years and when his time came to start, he was the face of a franchise that is one of the best run in the league, with a mastermind of an offensive head coach in Mike McCarthy.

Fate was made so that Alex Smith would have to struggle.

As we all know, it wasn’t until Jim Harbaugh became the head coach of the 49ers that we finally saw  a coach build an offense around Smith’s strengths and we finally got to see what he could do. Nobody is saying that it was the most ridiculous season a quarterback could have, but what it did was give Smith back his confidence.  Smith led the 49ers to a 13-3 record and became the NFL textbook definition of what a “game-manager” is.  Then something weird happened.  The phrase “game-manager” had been around for  awhile, but now that it was tied in with Alex Smith – it now gained a negative aura about it.   Being a quarterback who moved the chains and didn’t turn the ball over became seen as “meh.”

Fast forward and we come to Alex Smith getting injured and losing his starting job to the young quarterback with promise Colin Kaepernick.  After nine games, Smith threw for 13 touchdowns with 5 interceptions at 70% completion rate – but after seeing  how electric of a player Kaepernick was at the time – there was no going back.

Smith now found himself in Kansas City with Andy Reid.  For five years in Kansas City, Smith showed the best version of himself.  Smith threw for 102 touchdowns, 34 interceptions and posted an average of about 3400 yards a year.  Reid was not only able to use Smith’s accuracy (finished the five years with a completion percentage of 65%) he also made good use of his legs which opened up the Kansas City offense.  With Kansas City, Smith became a three time pro-bowler and had the highest passer rating in 2017 with a digit of 104.7.  What did all of that get him?  Traded at the end of 2017, to once again – make way for another young quarterback.

Fate now finds Alex Smith, who is now 33 years of age and will be 34 by the season opener, with a pretty good offensive coach in Jay Gruden, but with a team in the Redskins who are very. . . “meh.”  Washington is where Alex Smith’s career may very well end and although this franchise has historically been one to make questionable decisions on both sides of the roster and has an owner who sometimes gives the impression that he lives in another world – SOMEHOW – it will fall on what Alex Smith “failed to do.”  At this point, Alex Smith has heard it all – “draft bust” – “game manager” and now “passed his prime.”  A good chunk of Smith’s career hurt him and it’s due to nothing else but bad luck and situations that he could not control.

Would he be an all-time great if he had a better situation?  Nobody is saying that.  Smith definitely has his limitations. He just deserved better is all.

Is Wilson Worth the Dough?

The average football fan has been duped.  Duped by social media, commercial America and the NFL itself that the position of quarterback, is the do all and end all of everything important in the game of football.   Is the position important?  Of course it is.  It’s just as important as an left tackle,  defensive end, wide receiver, cornerback etc . . .   It’s been well documented how the NFL has modified it’s rules to help protect the quarterback while elevating the potential of a quarterback’s ability.


The Seahawks drafted quarterback Russell Wilson in the third round of the 2012 draft and have made a successful starting quarterback out of him.  The Seahawks have constructed a roster the way many NFL teams only wish they could – by landing “gems” in the later rounds of the NFL draft.   The only problem when doing that is, eventually – all those gems that were drafted come to the end of their rookie contracts and look to a big pay day when the time comes.

The quarterback market in the NFL is almost as lucrative as the Gold Rush of 1849.   The narrative of “you need a quarterback to win in this league” is an overstated and overused one, which has some truth to it, but folks have gotten out of control with it.  Look at the quarterbacks who have gotten huge contracts after winning a Super Bowl – Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Tom Brady and Russell Willson. Tom Brady – is on another level and not part of this discussion and Eli, for all the praise he gets, happened to be an average quarterback on a talented roster, so he was fortunate to get back to and win a second Super Bowl. . .

Joe Flacco, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers have all had their own versions of “success” but they all have not returned to the big game although they are paid as if they get there every year.   It’s common sense but it must be said – if you decide to pay a quarterback $20-$25 million a year – then as a general manager you have to find ways to cut corners with your roster.

This is why the Seahawks and Russell Wilson conundrum is an interesting one.

The Seahawks tote around one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, albeit mostly on the defensive side, but still – finding a hole in this roster is nearly impossible.  Russell Wilson has been a direct beneficiary of this roster.  Being the game manager he is, having a running back like Marshawn Lynch in his back pocket is one of the greatest resources any offense could ask for.  Sure, the receivers on the Seahawks aren’t of Pro Bowl caliber, but what they are are blue-collared wideouts, who run routes well, block for the running game and aren’t afraid to put their bodies on the line for the sake of something like a three yard slant route.  This defense is solid all around and they make up for three and outs, and bad field position like clockwork.


Is Russell Wilson terrible?  No.  He’s average.  His stats go hand in hand with Alex Smith’s but the perception of the two is vastly different.  Alex Smith was able to coax the Chiefs into a four year and nearly $70 million contract.  That’s with minimal success over his career and no commercial appeal what-so-ever.  Russell Wilson is on tv all the time and has been on a winning team since his entry to the league.  At the end of it all, Russell Wilson wants $20 million a year (he enters this season in the final year of his rookie contract, with an expected salary of $1.5 million).  Russell Wilson plays just as well as a guy who many were calling a “bust” a few years ago – and he wants $20 million a year.

Of course if you’re Russell Wilson, you should try to get paid as much as you can, while you can.  Especially considering how mediocrity at the quarterback position is consistently overpaid : Alex Smith, Jay Cutler and now, Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins.  The Tannehill contract showed the lunacy which ensues during quarterback contract talks.  Miami Dolphins fans were actually happy with the fact that they overpaid for a player who’s ceiling of potential won’t get them into the playoffs.


Giving Russell Wilson the contract which is expected, will without a doubt start the decline of the Seattle Seahawks organization.

When will there ever be a general manager and coach combination that stands up for how good they are and tell a quarterback : “You know what, we’re good.   We appreciate your time in this organization, but we know how to put a team together.”

You see, it’s not just Russell Wilson – it’s every quarterback.  There are probably three quarterbacks in the NFL who are maybe worth $20 million a year because they have the ability to make everyone around them better.   Those kind of quarterbacks are rare.  Quarterbacks who throw for 20 touchdowns, 7 interceptions and 3400 yards in a season are quite abundant and need a team around them to have success.

G.W. Gras