We should change the question. The team, not an individual player, is the priority.
So maybe a better question would be: What does Alex have to bring to the team?
I can think of four things.
1. He has to start 16 games.
Last year, Alex played in only 11 games. He started 10 of them.
The team needs him to play well enough and stay healthy enough to start all 16 games.
For him to stay healthy and play well, the team will have to protect him.
2. His touchdown to interception ratio needs to improve.
Last year, he threw 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Critical elements that will lead to this improvement: better ball placement and no stupid throws.
But, in all honestly, some of the picks were not his responsibility. The receivers must also step up. If the ball hits their hands, they have to catch it. If the throw is close but not on target, the receivers have to go get it. To some degree they may have to carry Alex—and yes good receivers do that.
3. He has to throw for more 1st downs.
Last year, only 30.1 % of his passes resulted in first downs. Last year, the team was 25th in time of possession. More first down throws, will improve our time of possession. Gore will get more touches and the receivers will get more attempts—the offensive skill players will be more productive and a lot happier.
4. Alex needs to improve his completion %.
Last year, he completed 59.6 on his passes. Last year, the play-off quarterbacks completed 63.2% of their passes in the regular season.
If Alex can do these four things, we might surprise a lot of people.
This season, or any season, is not just about Alex Smith or any individual player. It is about the team.
We need to ask: What does a player bring to the team? How each player and each unit contribute to the team and its success?
[ Edited by buck on Sep 8, 2011 at 2:38 AM ]