Another Sunday, another victory, another example of Alex Smith doing everything he can to earn my mistrust of him.
This is a prime example of why stats can be misleading: Alex Smith’s QB rating in the 19-11 win over the reeling Redskins was 109.7. 17/24, 200 yards, 1 TD, no picks. Seems like a legitimate game for a real life NFL QB, but this win felt different. I would argue that once again the team won in spite of Alex “I checked down to Addition instead of Multiplication on my 5th grade math quiz” Smith, instead of because of him.
Well, it has to do with how this game played out differently than those previous. For whatever reason (and far be it from me to cast aspersions on Jim Harbaugh’s decisions at this point), the coaching staff decided to loosen the reins a little and let Alex “I’m staring longingly for the safety of the sideline again” Smith call audibles at the line. The result? Any number of running plays that sent Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter running into a wall of Redskins defensive linemen, and a good smattering of check down passes that earned, by my informal count, an aggregate total of 9 yards.
Safe? Yeah. Alex Smith is (thankfully) beyond killing his team with crippling turnovers at inopportune times now (I hope. I hope. I hope). But he is still, and will never be, a quarterback who will take his team to a Super Bowl, because he is ONLY effective when he’s playing such an ultra-conservative game that he is rendered incapable of making big plays, for either team. Deep in his heart, he knows it, too. That results in situations like today’s game, in which whenever he had the opportunity to make a choice, whether strategic or immediate, he went for the safe, boring, ultimately ineffective option. It’s an approach that will defeat the measly Redskins of the world (though it nearly lost, if the defense hadn’t continued its turnover-forcing ways and avoided a relaxation of focus in the 4th), but I am terrified of the upcoming games against the Steelers and Ravens. Safe may not lose you the game against the really good teams, but it won’t win it, either.
I’m happy that we got another win, but sad to see the return of mediocre, ineffective old Alex.