Saturday, December 12, 2009

Smith, Gradkowski Playing For Their Futures

Both the 49ers and Raiders are in a somewhat similar position regarding their quarterback situation. The Raiders have bypassed JaMarcus Russel for the time being, and may have found their replacement in Bruce Gradkowski, while the Niners have gone back to Alex Smith to see if he's finally the one to take them forward.

Both quarterbacks have played well in their in-season tryout thus far, but with 4 games remaining on the schedule, there is still plenty to learn about these two. I think the Niners are really pulling for Alex Smith to be the guy, and run away with this job over the final month, and although his stats look solid, he hasn't really won the Niners many games. The 25 year-old has gone 2-4 in his 6 starts, but that's not necessarily a barometer for how well he's done. He's thrown 13 TD's and 7 picks, while averaging 225 ypg and a 61.8 completion percentage in his 7 games this season. Those numbers are pretty good, and in line with some of the better quarterbacks in the game today. However, as I said, Smith is 2-4 as a starter, and although the losses weren't his fault directly, I think the 49ers would have liked to see Smith take over a few of those games and pull them out. One game in particular was last weeks game in Seattle in which the Niners failed to put them away in the second half, and ended up losing a game they should have won. Smith didn't lose them that game, but he should be held in large part accountable for the teams' stagnant second half offense. Smith's numbers are there, but he's got to show ability to control and close out the close games over this final month if he wants to ensure himself this job going forward.

Gradkowski has looked like a young Jeff Garcia for the Raiders in recent weeks. In his 3 starts at QB this year, he's carried the Raiders to a 2-1 record and has put up some impressive numbers against some tough defenses. He threw for 183 yards and 2 scores in the Raiders win over the 9-3 Bengals, then popped off for 307 yards and 3 TD's in last Sunday's game vs. the Steelers. He's showed mobility and efficiency since he's been in there, and really is reminding me of the way Garcia kind of came out of nowhere with the Niners 10 years ago. I just don't know that the Raiders are quite ready to give up on JaMarcus Russell and hand the keys over to Bruce Gradkowski in the long-term. What I'd try to do if I were running the Raiders, is try and ink Gradkowski to something like a 3 year deal after the year, assuming the asking price isn't to high, and let he and Russell battle it out in next summers training camp. If Russel can't win that job, or struggles again to start the '10 season, then they'll have Gradkowski ready to rock. If Russell does win the job, then the Raiders have Gradkowski as insurance for a couple of years just in-case Russell falters again, or goes down with an injury. I don't think many teams around the league would offer him a starting job, so returning to Oakland is likely in Gradkowski's best interest... We here at the Journal, also suggest our readers to check out the sports Interaction review at Doc's.

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