Over the course of the last two months my entire opinion of Alex Smith has changed from a bust to someone that could be our QB of the future. Amazing isn't it? In September i was throwing out the idea of releasing him following this season and now i believe he should be handed the reigns in 2010. I will be listing some statistics to back up my opinion but in all this will be more of a broad conversation regarding Smith and our QB position.
Alex Smith: 61.8 % 1,577 YDS 13TD/7INT 86.7 Rating 244.7YPG 1.86 TD/INT Ratio
Donovan Mcnabb: 61.0 % 2,427 YDS 16TD/6INT 92.3 Rating 242.7 YPG 2.67 TD/INT Ratio
Eli Manning: 59.4 % 2,925 YDS 20TD/11INT 86.8 Rating 243.3 YPG 1.82 TD/INT Ratio
Matt Ryan: 59.4 % 2,291 YDS 16TD/12INT 80.0 Rating 229.1 YPG 1.33 TD/INT Ratio
Jay Cutler: 62.0 % 2,814 YDS 17TD/20INT 77.6 Rating 234.5 YPG 1.18 INT/TD Ratio
Kyle Orton: 61.2 % 2,627 YDS 14TD/7INT 88.0 Rating 218.9YPG 2.00 TD/INT Ratio
Matt Cassel: 53.9 % 1,982 YDS 13TD/9INT 72.3 Rating 180.2 YPG 1.44 TD/INT Ratio
Carson Palmer 60.8 % 2,547 Yards 16TD/10INT 85.0 Rating 212.3 YPG 1.60 TD/INT Ratio
Now the only reason i added Cutler and Cassel to this list is because many where talking about those two as options for us in trades during the last off-season. They both have had incredibly poor seasons following major trades and it would have been a mistake to acquire either. Also keep in mind that Alex Smith is the 2nd youngest QB on this list behind Matt Ryan. Who would have thought that following week 13 Alex Smith would have a higher QB rating then Eli Manning, Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler and Carson Palmer? Amazing isn't it?
Beyond the statistics i would like to talk about how Alex Smith has played since taking over as a starter. Sure he has had his ups and downs. But it's hard to argue that he isn't coming off the best 10 quarter stretch of his career. Granted we went 1-2 during that time, but he has continued to improve and show he has the ability to be a darn good QB in this league. He is looking more comfortable in the pocket and is making less mistakes. By mistakes i am not talking only about Interceptions but holding on to the ball too long, throwing it into coverage, staring down the receiver or missing on passes. It seems to me that he is starting to anticipate the coverage much better, make quick reads and throw the ball away when the play isn't available. I like the fact that he goes to the check down quicker instead of forcing it or taking a sack, this enables us to get positive yardage instead of negative yardage. These are all indicators of him progressing as a QB and becoming comfortable in the offense. This only promises to get better in the final 4 weeks.
Now some could question all this praise considering he is 2-4 as a starting QB, but really how much of that is his fault? As the leader of the offense he is partially to blame but the onus cannot be solely placed on him. Yes we went something like 1-13 on third downs against Seattle. But how much of that is on Alex Smith? And how much of that is on dropped passes and play calling? Now don't get me wrong he has a lot more to prove and a lot more progress to make before i anoint him our "franchise QB" but the strides he is taking are very very good. I would like to see a 2/1 QB to TD ratio, and he is nearly right at that, i would also like to see a rating of between 90-95 and he isn't far from that. But in the end i want to see us win games and he has to prove he can do that.
If you are not a big fan of Alex Smith i completely understand that, he hasn't done anything to give us confidence in his skills before these last 6 games. But let me ask you this. What are the alternatives? The free agent market is average at best, the draft class is completely overrated, Nate Davis isn't ready to take over and Shaun Hill is nothing more then a very good backup in this league.