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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Alex Smith Runs Mouth

Alex Smith Slams Newton? It’s hard to say how the Alex Smith comments should be handled – it’s easy to say it doesn’t matter, or that they’re not comparable situations. Or that it doesn’t matter what this guy thinks, which probably should be the reaction – but that’s not much of an article.
Here are Smith’s comments:
 "This is the honest truth, I could absolutely care less on yards per game.  I think that is a totally overblown stat because if you’re losing games in the second half, guess what, if you’re like the Carolina Panthers and you’re going no-huddle the entire second half and, yeah, Cam Newton threw for a lot of 300-yard games.  That’s great.  You’re not winning, though."
Well, fair enough Alex, but you weren’t why the 49ers won most of those games, either.
Let's start with this: Newton had a total of 3 300 yard games.  Carolina finished third in rushing.  It’s definitely true that Carolina threw deep a lot.  Deep throws in larger numbers mean more big plays which mean more yards, but not necessarily sustainability or game control.  That’s definite.  But were there deep bombs because Carolina was behind?   No, absolutely not – Carolina actually gets higher percentage, at least it seems, when trying to build points they have to have (and teams take away the deep ball anyway). 
It’s definitely a passing offense, and there’s a correlation between the early 2011 offense that threw too much (mostly by design it seems) and a lack of wins. But the early games were certainly a lot more blaming on the defense, and certainly special teams failures (the AZ game came down to a matter of yards in a game that had Carolina giving up a special teams TD earlier).  
Of course, however, this offense isn’t no-huddle, by any means.  Carolina also ran the ball a ton (cite # carries).  You may have even heard that Newton scored a rushing TD or two – something about a record and going after the overall rookie TD record for all skill players?   So Smith’s words in that case are, at best, misleading.  Newton neither made many calls at the line, nor played better in two minute type situations.  
And, while there wasn’t as much offensive consistency as you might prefer out of a top 10 unit, to go with the D/ST problems, Newton didn’t get 4000 yards because he was behind.  His first half yards were higher, as were his attempts.   He only threw 55 balls down more than a full touchdown. 
And, I’m sure Smith would love to have had the rookie year or buzz that Newton did.  Smith took seven years to have a successful season, which is more important than a statistically great one, but he hasn’t had any of those either.  Smith’s spent plenty of time riding benches and fighting the Shaun Hills, Chris Weinkes, and David Carrs of the waiver wire, more or less saved by good coaching and then almost unwanted by that same team within the year (a couple of wins and circumstance from being Trent Dilfer, or worse, having to go to Miami as their 19th best option to start).   I’m not saying that Smith is jealous, but envious is conservative – Newton could (and probably won’t) easily skate by on his rookie successes.  He proved year one that he was NFL material, and Smith took 7.   When Smith was an instant millionaire, Newton was a sophomore in high school.  Probably wasn’t easy seeing Aaron Rodgers get it right either (while I’m at it –what an awful QB class – Rodgers and Smith, Charlie Frye, David Greene, Stefan Lefors – when Kyle Orton is the next guy who started, and the remaining notables are Derek Anderson, Matt Cassel,  Ryan Fitzpatrick - well, wow; more success outside or Rodgers in the 6th and 7th than above it).
As well, there’s a lot of over-generalization in this statement, and the idea of getting to 100 yards rushing/30 rushes/etc over 40 pass attempts.  This isn’t that NFL anymore.  The Pats and Packers aren’t counting their carries, and dumping Gatorade at the 30th time Danny Woodhead dances behind draw blocking.  There are plenty of passing attacks that can and do succeed longterm without a massive run intervention – though I don’t see Carolina staying with that longterm – so it’s not like there’s “one way” to do things.
The 49ers do rely on defense and running (certainly not Smith), and you could say they do it “right”.  But while the Packers’ and Pats’ defenses need to improve, did that keep them from having immense success?  There’s no one way to do it.  No team is perfect, no team is going to be good at everything and the best way is to have balance.  No doubt there.  But it’s not a league that requires you to have
Smith is ultimately right because passing stats don’t matter.  Agreed.  He doesn’t need to trash-talk, mischaracterize, or hassle other teams to defend himself.

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