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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Possible Smith Move Under Radar, Unannounced, Past Due

Steve Smith is primed for a huge year. He's beating very solid corners badly, and from pictures of camp, seems to be doing much more flanker this year. He'll get to move around more, more can be created, more plays can be made. And he's ready to take on that extended role. The position is much more suited to the smaller receiver, though there were no limitations to Smith playing split end.

Stuck at split end as a deep, deep consequence of a puzzling move in the 2000 preseason, Smith has been at split end because of Patrick Jeffers' injury in preseason 2000; Donald Hayes, possibly one of the dumbest Panthers ever, was Muhsin Muhammad's backup in 1999. He learned split end, having had years in it, and when Jeffers was injured in 00, Muhammad had to move because of it. The move left Muhammad miscast; not as useful in motion, not as likely to get the posession routes he'd earned a Pro Bowl and a receiving title in 1999. Muhammad played flanker exclusively from 2000-2004, the final year being a season he finally got to get under some deep balls and show some playmaking again.

And with Muhammad miscast, that left Smith, likewise, miscast.

One of the darkest days in team history left Steve Smith floundering under the weight of triple coverage while the rest of the team floundered; desperate, downtrodden, the Seahawks methodically took away Smith in an act of defiance that led to yet another posession player being miscast, Keyshawn Johnson, in that flanker role. Johnson, signed to keep that from happening, was a move in good faith, but the move Smith is undertaking may be the better solution. While the Johnson move is still puzzling, using Smith in this fashion and relying on Jarrett at a more natural split end looks to be for the best.
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