drummer’s note : I am feverishly writing this for the morning post. Seriously, I got a fever baby, and it needs more chicken soup.
Matt Maiocco’s article yesterday - while making a case for Alex Smith - also looked at the current state of the NFC West quarterbacks, from starter on down. After reading his article, it reminded me of the paucity of true, top tier QB’s in a division where offense once thrived. His article explains that by default, Smith is the better out of all of them, including the aged and oft-injured Matt Hasslebeck, based on his numbers he presents.
Of course, those numbers only qualify so much. The NFC West has become a Ghost Town for quarterbacks in just one off-season, after Kurt Warner hung up his holster for the last time to ride off into the Arizona sunset. Veteran gunslingers like Marc Bulger has become shell shocked and freezes up while aiming towards his targets, while another Veteran in Hasslebeck is running out of bullets in Seattle. It’s High Noon in the NFC West. Just who and where will the next gunslinger emerge?
Unless Donovan McNabb arrives guns a blazin’, we have our stable of young guns in the West, 2 of which really have the most weapons in the West with Alex Smith in San Francisco, and Matt Leinart in Arizona. Out of these 2, Smith has clearly shown to be the better quarterback. Well, at least shows the most promise. Smith is far from being a polished QB, but compared to Leinart, he is clearly way ahead of him in the curve.
Despite having Warner last season, San Francisco swept Arizona with not only Smith at QB, but also with Shaun Hill's wounded ducks behind center. Much credit in those wins goes to San Francisco’s stampeding defense, and that’s where Arizona’s may lie in the future against SF. They simply will need exceptional QB play against SF because SF’s defense should only get better against both the run and the pass. It’s a pretty daunting task for Leinart, a guy known more for polishing his gun than being able to use it.
Smith on the other hand, is known for fumbling for his gun after pulling it from the holster. He isn’t one of the fastest guns on the draw as far as release. He is better with a shotgun than he is with a pistol. Although his accuracy has improved, he still tends to stare down his primary targets. Of course, now he is hitting them consistently. Where Smith has to improve is to not hesitate on when to pull the trigger once he see his target open. He has to trust that he can hit multiple targets also. Smith has a lot more weapons at his disposal than in the past. The reality for Smith is that this is his last stand in San Francisco. If he can’t make full use out of those weapons, than the 49ers will have to pull the trigger on another quarterback for the future.
Which leaves us at the last 2 NFC West teams in Seattle and St. Louis. Clearly, it’s become a crapshoot looking at their respective rosters as of right now. Outside of the shaky trigger fingers of the aforementioned Hasslebeck and Bulger, there really is, in my opinion, to not a have a reason for confidence going into a shootout with any of the rest of the QB’s in the NFC Mild Mild West. This could be one of the worst divisions for quarterbacks in the League. So I can see Maiocco’s argument for Smith. In this division, I’ll take the guy with the big shotgun to shoot all these fish in the barrel.
Footnote: You know, it's pretty bad in the NFC West when the only starting quarterbacks worth writing about are Alex Smith and Matt Leinart. Seriously.