I have no idea what's wrong with our offense. The QB? The offensive coaching philosophy? The O-line? There's a laundry list of reasons why we're suffering on offense.
But so far, in my opinion, if we have a chance at making the playoffs this year or next year, it's going to be with Alex Smith. Shaun Hill appears to be a career backup, while Nate Davis is a raw commodity. If Davis ever becomes a starting QB, I believe Nate Davis will take some time to develop.
Many want to draft a QB, but unless there's a STRONG surrounding cast like Roethlisberger had with the Steelers in his rookie year, a rookie QB next season wouldn't produce. It's up to McCloughan on whether or not he wants to draft a QB in the long-run, but I would think his fate is tied to Alex Smith.
There's a lot of excuses for Alex Smith at this point. In my opinion, some of these are valid... No continuity at the OC position... he's not well-suited to certain offensive schemes... the play selection sucks this year... Mike Nolan "ruined" him... Injuries...
But I think another offseason with Jimmy Raye as OC, keeping the same system, but by tailoring the offense to Alex's strengths (likely the spread offense), would answer the validity of the above "excuses."
But this is what I think SHOULD happen:
- With the loss to the Packers and our difficult schedule, we will likely miss the playoffs.
- We should slowly but surely adjust the gameplan to include plays that work to Alex's strengths. The scheme needs to be more consistent too. None of this "run every down in the first half, followed by passing every down in the second half" nonsense.
- Hopefully, Alex will improve. As it stands now, he's got an 81.5 QB rating, with a 61% completion percentage. Some of those numbers are from the soft Texans and Packers defenses though. But if he can maintain these numbers by playing in a more consistent scheme and even improve on them, I think we can expect good things from Alex.
- Alex's performance will dictate just how high we draft a QB and/or the reps we give to Nate Davis in training camp. If he does pretty well and looks like a starting QB, I don't draft a QB until maybe the 3rd round. If he looks like "the same old Alex," then we'll need to consider drafting a guy high and/or trying to expedite Nate Davis's progression (which I don't think will be a good thing).
- Obviously, the cast will need to be adjusted. The offensive line needs work. The Offensive Line coach will need to be evaluated. I don't think Jimmy Raye should be fired, unless the offense regresses BADLY this season. But at the same time, our young WRs will all have a season under their belts as starters (Crabtree, Morgan, and hopefully Hill). They will likely progress and be much better players next year.
- Assuming Alex Smith improves over the rest of the season, he should enter training camp as the starter and take the reps that a starter would normally take.
- The 2010 season will be important for the careers of Singletary, McCloughan, and Alex Smith. I don't believe Nate Davis or a rookie QB would emerge next year. Singletary, who should probably be given the benefit of the doubt and have 3 seasons under his belt, has been around this franchise and has many similar tendencies to Mike Nolan. If he doesn't know how to make this franchise work after being around it so much, then he probably should go if he fails next year. McCloughan has been involved in the re-building effort since the beginning. This is Alex Smith's last chance as a starter. If he can't do it now, then he probably won't do it ever.
- Should we miss the playoffs next season, we may have to start over.
What do you guys think?
There's a big assumption that the team's success is linked to the QB performance, but I think that's a fair assumption. The QB has to play reasonably well for the team to succeed. I'm not saying the QB has to post Peyton Manning or Drew Brees numbers, but they do have to move the chains, make plays every so often, and limit turnovers. If we run a primarily-passing attack, then their responsibilities are greater. But what do you guys think of this situation I've played out?