Monday, November 15, 2010

Smith Carries Niners to 2nd Straight Win

Troy Smith is quietly leading the 49ers back into the NFC West race, as he's now gone 2-0 since taking over after Alex Smith hurt his shoulder in Carolina.

Smith looked like a legit QB on Sunday vs. the Rams, throwing for 356 yards and a TD without turning the ball over once. In his 50 games at the NFL level, Alex Smith never once threw for 356 yards, and here is Troy Smith, a guy who's been a back-up since coming into the league in 2007 after dominating in college, doing it in just his 4th career start. I know it's only been two games, but the way Troy Smith is taking reigns of this offense is really reminding me of the way Jeff Garcia kind of came out nowhere and took the league by surprise. Again, not granting Smith the next Jeff Garcia, but he's got a similar skill set and he wins, and this is the first time he's really getting a shot. The Ravens gave him a small glance at the end of his rookie year, and he did an OK job, going 1-1 in with a QB rate of 85% in just 2 starts. Since then, he's gotten just a few snaps over the last 3 seasons, mostly in wild cat packages. I'm still eager to see what this guy can do, and I really hope Singletary keeps rolling with him until he proves he's not capable of doing the job. What I've been most impressed with is his accuracy, as he just puts the ball where it needs to be as he's over 60% completion rating with no picks in his 2 starts. I was really hoping Alex Smith would eventually figure it out, but I'm ready to let that ship sail, and this job should be Troy's the rest of the way.

The Rams were looking like the top dog in this porous NFC West coming into that game, so this win was huge for the Niners. Troy Smith looked better than Sam Bradford and Frank Gore looked better than Steven Jackson and the Niners defense held on to beat a decent football team. Now they face an even better one in the 6-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, nonetheless, a team I think they match-up well with and can beat if they play the whole game like they did the 2nd half vs. the Rams. This should be a big test for Troy Smith though, as Tampa does tout one of the best defenses in the NFL, and they can be a tough secondary to throw on when they're health. I would like to see Smith used more in bootlegs and roll-outs, as he seems to be extremely accurate on the run. He's not Mike Vick, but he can move and when he's out of the pocket, he gives defenses another element to worry about.


Raiders Atop AFC West

Speaking of winning teams, the Raiders are now leaders of the AFC West with the Chiefs loss, despite being off in week 10. I think it's safe to say Raiders fans, that Darren McFadden has now solidified his selection of 4th overall by the Raiders in '08, and he has been the man behind this 2010 offensive turnaround. Quarterback play has been hot and cold, and Michael Bush has been hurt a lot, so it's been McFadden who's really stepped up a notch. At first, it looked like he was going to go the route of so many Raider draftee's (won't start naming names in this post) before him, but the dude stayed focused and has turned himself into a top NFL running back and a multi-threat out of the backfield. Hopefully Darrius Heyward-Bey keeps progressing as well after his breakout game in week 8. Like with DMac though, the Raiders have to figure out a way to keep him on the field each week as he has a knack for getting injured.... They aren't the biggest names in football yet, but Louis Murphy, Heyward-Bay, McFadden, Jacoby Ford and the most underrated of them all, tight end Zach Miller, are starting to turn this Raider offense around. As long as they have a QB who can manage the game and make a few plays like Jason Campbell has started to over the last 3 weeks (5 TD's/1 INT, 270 YPG) they're developing the play-makers to win games.

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