The 49ers won only their second game this past Sunday against the Denver Broncos in London. That's something (a win) that's only happened one other time this year, so obviously people are excited about it. Perhaps more exciting was the fact that Troy Smith played what seemed like a pretty good game - going 12 of 19 for 196 yards and 1 TD passing to go with 1 TD rushing...and maybe the most important stat: ZERO turnovers.
Still, today there was a lot of debate as to whether Troy really played a good game...what did he really show us in this game? Some commented he wasn't very accurate. Others said it was just because the Broncos defense is so bad that Troy had success.
I went back and watched the 49ers vs. Broncos game today and documented my thoughts on each of Troy Smith's pass attempts. Hopefully this sheds more light into Troy Smith's performance on Sunday, especially for those of you who weren't able to watch the game, or maybe were caught up in the heat of the moment. After the jump, I give my analysis of every passing play.
1Q 12:17 - 2nd & 7 SF 45yd line: Crabtree was between two defenders, but it looked like MAYBE he could have caught the pass if it was thrown slightly shorter and more to the right.
1Q 7:54 - 1st and 10 SF 18yd line: Good pass, short to Delanie Walker but right on the money for the bubble screen. Iupati didn't get a body on his man, which shortened the gain.
1Q 6:01 - 2nd and 8 SF 39yd line: Incomplete bubble screen to Ginn. Gotta put this one on Joe Staley. He pulled out on the play and didn't get in the way of Ginn's DB in time, plus Ginn ran pretty far back, probably because the DB was still close to him. The ball was where Smith thought Ginn would be...can't call it a bad throw really.
1Q 5:58 - 3rd and 8 SF 39yd line: Great route by Vernon Davis, great throw, in-stride to Vernon so he could run after the catch, which he needed to do to get 1st down.
1Q 4:35 - 2nd and 9 DEN 48yd line: Crabtree was in slot and Delanie Walker outside as WR...Walker runs what looks like a read-route, kind of an outside seam. The DB was playing outside technique and Walker just ran to his inside hip and looked for the ball. Smith hit him in stride, in the gut area.
1Q 3:07 - 2nd and 7 DEN 35yd line: Smith feels pressure (unabated rush up the gut) and steps back a few step, then fires to Westbrook, again giving him a chance to run after the catch for the first down.
2Q 9:53 - 2nd and 6 SF 38yd line: I can't be sure, but Norris ran past a free rusher on this play and then ended up being the intended receiver when that same free rusher was inches from contacting Troy Smith. Part of me wonders if Norris should have read that free rusher and chipped him, because Josh Morgan ran a similar flat-route just beyond Norris and could have caught the pass if Norris wasn't available due to picking up the blitzer.
2Q 9:48 - 3rd and 6 SF 38yd line: Smith wanted the quick hit to Delanie Walker over the left side, a mini-3-step drop pass, but he realized it was covered and pulled back, but was slightly late and high/outside on the pass attempt to Crabtree. Being high and outside was the best throw though since Crabtree was covered.
2Q 4:09 - 3rd and 4 SF 44yd line: Morgan had inside position on the slant but an inside defender widened and got in the picture, causing Smith to throw high and away. He waited a bit on this pass and by the time he threw it I'm guessing the inside defender influenced his throw outside. Nice avoidance of a pick at the last minute, at least.
3Q 12:50 - 1st and 10 SF 34yd line: This was a great play by Troy Smith. He had a free rusher coming at him...he pump faked, causing the rusher to hesitate and throw his arms up to bat it down. Then Troy ran around the rusher to the left, outside of the pocket, and drilled a low pass to Crabtree on a comeback route.
3Q 8:02 - 1st and 10 SF 23yd line: Staley's man get's free of Joe's grasp and comes at Smith who dips his shoulder underneath the tackle and moves to his left, then finds Gore for a 7 yard gain.
3Q 6:46 - 3rd and 1 SF 32yd line: Smith wanted Morgan all along, but he wasn't open and he felt the pressure. He stepped outside to the right and forced a defender to keep him honest, all the while keeping his eyes on Morgan. When he had a lane he threw it to Morgan in-stride and allowed him to pick up another 20 yards after the catch.
3Q 4:29 - 3rd and 6 DEN 24yd line: Again, it almost seemed as though he was trying to miss Walker on this play because there were defenders everywhere except where he threw the pass. He had Dawkins on a free rush who drilled him upon the release, but I don't think if affected the throw.
4Q 14:06 - 1st and 20 SF 34yd line: It might have looked like he threw it way behind Delanie Walker on this play, but I actually think he was looking for Gore, who hadn't turned around yet and wasn't expecting the ball when it was thrown. It's hard to tell but Gore gave him a look afterwards like "what was that?" I just checked the game-book and they scored it as intended for Gore.
4Q 13:56 - 2nd and 20 SF 34yd line: Beautiful play here. Smith slides up in the pocket as the edge rushers started pinching in, then delivered a frozen rope to Delanie Walker, in-stride for a 27 yard gain.
4Q 13:30 - 1st and 10 DEN 39yd line: I originally thought this was a 3rd down play and thus there wasn't as much risk since a punt would have been lucky to end up on the 2 yard line. It was actually 1st down and so that makes it a little bit more ill-advised. I do like Troy's improvisational skills though, and at least it was down the the 2 yard line, although we were trailing. Still, as much as you could say "we only won because of that lucky pass" I would say that if he hadn't thrown it we could just as well have moved down the field and scored anyways. Who knows, but yeah, a risky throw.
4Q 8:16 - 2nd and 8 DEN 46yd line: Smith took his drop and was looking over the middle to Walker, bounced on the balls of his feet, poised, then looked right and delivered a strike to Crabtree for a 13 yard gain.
4Q 7:29 - 2nd and 5 DEN 28yd line: Crabtree saw Goodman playing WAY inside of him and was looking back to Smith after only 10 yards of his route. He put a double move on Goodman and Smith recognized it, dropped it right over the DB's head to the back shoulder. The safety was coming over on the play, but I think Smith still could have lead Crabtree if he wanted to. I think Crabtree was expecting the back shoulder throw though. Either that or he just recognized the throw and made a perfect adjustment. Either way, it was awesome.
4Q 7:07 - 1st and 10 DEN 18yd line: Play action pass, the thing I like about this and some of the other passes is that Smith sucks the rusher in and waits, knowing his check-down is all the more open due to the free rusher. He stands in and hits Walker for a nice 4 yard gain at the last minute.
So there you have it. Upon watching the game again I came away very encouraged by what I saw from Troy Smith. Granted it was just one game, but he showed some skills in this game. Most impressive to me was his ability to avoid the rush from any area and still keep his eyes down the field, eventually delivering either a completion or throwing the ball where nobody could catch it.
Bottom line: TROY SMITH IS OUR FUTURE! Buy your jerseys now, book the travel for the Super Bowl, yeah, this one...we're going.