i did a thread on him a while back talking about all this.
dude was thrown into one of the most constantly dysfunctional situations that anyone could have.
i was reading in PFW
about the QB situation in san fran and how harbaugh wants smith to stick around and thinks he can work with him, the new GM thinks that it is unlikely that they will stick with him. meanwhile, alex smith seems ok about the idea of working with harbaugh (or so it seems) but overall uninterested in sticking around with the 49ers, after all...who can blame him after what he's had to put up with there?
what has he had to put up with there?
when smith was drafted, it was the year that mike nolan was named coach. his OC was mike mccarthy who runs a WCO which is probably the most complicated of the schemes used by the NFL. so not only do you have a 20 year old QB coming out of a spread to the pros, you have a 20 year old rookie QB coming into a system that takes 4-5 years for a QB and the rest of the team to get a full grasp on. it's no wonder smith had the problems he had (1 TD:11 INTs) as a rookie. there was bound to be problems having a rookie starting, but having him start in a WCO was just dumb. the scheme needs to be rookie QB friendly for him to be able to adjust to the game. that is something that teams more recently have caught on to. this was very much a case of a round peg trying to fit into a square hole.
well, after that season, OC #1 left to become head coach of the packers. in came OC #2 in season #2 for smith. in also came offense #2, the air coryell offense with norv turner...quite different, but not nearly as complicated. there was nowhere to go but up for smith, but up he went doing much better than the previous year. he threw 16 TDs and 16 INTs. not too shabby for a 2nd year QB, esp. after how he looked the previous season.
well, after that season, turner left to become HC for the chargers. that meant hostler became the 3rd OC in smiths 3rd year bringing in a 3rd offense. it wasn't a WCO and it wasn't a coryell. it was the ugly abomination of a bastard child of the two. it was hostler's brain child. i'm not sure, but i think its called the fail offense. the playcalling was horrible. it hugely underutilized their best weapon in frank gore. the players didn't like him or trust him. he was probably worse than davidson last year. smith started off that year hoping to build on his success from the previous year, but he struggled in that God forsaken offense and then he got hurt very early in the season (4th game). nolan was a jerk and got smith back in the game too early and smith got hurt again in the same area (shoulder).
hostler got fired as the season ended and then in came mike martz as OC #4 in season #4 bringing in offense #4 for smith. martz's offense has it's roots in the coryell, but is a much more complicated version of it...too complicated according to many. martz wanted a big gun slinger for the job and went to jt osullivan. osullivan sucked. mike nolan gets fired. singletary gets made head coach. osullivan gets replaced with shaun hill. smith sits on the bench. martz gets fired by singletary who wants a more conservative ball control offense rather than the high wire circus act known as a mike martz offense. in comes jimmy raye as the 5th OC in smith's fourth year. in comes smith's 5th offense in 4 years. season ends with smith still on the bench.
next year the OC stays the same for the first time in smith's 5 year career. smith was benched for the first 5 games but half way through the 6th he stepped in and finished with a 5-5 record, 18 TDs and 12 INTs. he did surprisingly well considering all the changes that had taken place every year he had been there.
2010 season, they start out with the same OC, but then he gets fired 3 games into the season. so in comes OC number 6 in year number 6 with a 6th offense, which has a lot of singletary's offense in it but with elements of the spread. smith does ok for a few games, throwing 7 TDs (including 3 in 1) and 4 INTs with the new OC and offense, but then gets injured by charles johnson which very well could have been the reason they lost the game. smith wasn't winning much, but a lot of that had to do with singletary who was becoming pretty schizophrenic his last year there. troy smith comes in and wins a couple games, but then has a melt down and alex smith comes back in and wins 2 and throws 5 TDs and 1 INT.
point of all that is to ask, is alex smith a bust or just a guy with a stream of bad luck? 2 HC's fired while there and 6 OCs with 6 different offenses in his 6 seasons as a pro.
after that first miserable season of his, he went on to throw 50 TDs and 42 INTs in 45 games. that isn't anything stellar, but when you consider how much of a clusterf*ck his situation has been, it's pretty reasonable.
any QB coming into the league needs to have a team commit itself to him. more than that, he needs consistency so that he can learn the job he has. he doesn't need to be in a situation where the OC and the offense changes every year. why didn't he make the transition to the pros very well? was it because he came from a spread or because of the crappy situation he was thrown into.
i'm not even sure that you can call him a bust knowing what he went through. if he is, it's no more his fault than someone getting injured early on and having a mediocre career can be called a bust. it's a busted situation that kept getting busted up. it wasn't the spread offense he played in college that hurt him. it's having to learn a new offense every year with no real time to get completely acclimated to it.
agree or disagree?
discussion seems appropriate, imo, for any season where you have college QBs playing in the spread moving to the pros, esp when he is many times the first QBs name thrown out there of why it can't work.