Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco 49ers’

Cam Newton has proven to be the Superman many thought he was – but his detractors are still looking for Kryptonite.

It’s been a while since the last time I’ve written an original post for the blog. If you’ve added this page on Facebook, then you know I tend to post articles and ask for feedback daily, so I am indeed active in terms of how I utilize Shoot, Pass, Quibble! However, there are SO MANY different sources of information and analysis on things in the world of sports, oft times when I come up with a concept for something I’d like to write – I find it’s already been done and approached from a variety of angles. And to be quite honest – I don’t want to feel like I’m parroting anyone, or even appear that way.

But as luck would have it, a friend on Facebook provided me with the perfect topic for this post. Since we went back and forth for the better part of 2 hours on Facebook over this subject, I realized – it’s one that hasn’t really been broken down the way I tried to break it down to my friend. Eureka – my next post.

Now, before I go forward, I want to say – this particular blog isn’t meant to dis my friend, nor is it to be taken as an excuse to take potshots at him in the least. However, I WILL refer to things from our online conversation, and to things I’ve heard and read in reference to the subject matter. Some perceptions out there need to be refuted and cleared up. So, to paraphrase the great poet Jay-Z: “Sorry (friend), I’m just trying to advance my quotes – I ain’t making you the butt of my jokes…”

Now, with all that said…Alex Smith is a b***h.

If you’ve watched Alex Smith’s NFL “career” – this picture is something you’re extremely accustomed to seeing.

I’m sure most, if not all of you, have by now heard San Francisco QB Alex Smith’s verbal shot at NFL Rookie Of The Year Cam Newton. When asked about his statistics from a season ago, Smith, a long-time NFL under-performer (he was the #1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft) who had his most successful NFL season just last year, unnecessarily threw Cam and the Carolina Panthers under the bus for pretty much no reason. In order to be perfectly clear and transparent, so no one accuses me of “ESPN-ing” this up (read: saying something as though it’s fact, without actual evidence to support it – knowing my audience will buy it due to my reputation) – check out the actual clip of Smith’s words (the quote that has generated the press comes about 4:46 in).

Now, when watching the entire interview, Smith doesn’t seem to be too much of a jerk, right? Seems like he’s just answering questions about his team and the upcoming season. But the media jumped on the Cam comments, and rightfully so – Newton and his team had nothing to do with that conversation. Smith could have easily made his point without naming Newton or any team at all; the question is – WHY did he do that? Why did he choose Cam Newton of all other QBs he could’ve named? What was the impetus?

I’ll get to that a little later.

For now, let’s deal with the fallout from that interview. Newton’s teammate, linebacker Jon Beason, fired back in support of his quarterback on Twitter: “Alex smith, don’t hate on Cam (because) your stats would’ve gotten u cut if Peyton decided to come 2 San Fran. Truth b told. That’s after a 13-3 yr.” Yikes.

Jon Beason stuck up for his teammate in a manner I can relate to – by simply telling the truth.

Talk about going for the jugular. Thing is – Beason is 100% right. The absolute truth of the matter, and absolute fact – Smith was a free agent this year. The 49ers put out a take it or leave it offer, and Smith, somehow feeling he was due more as the QB of a successful 13-3 team, balked. He felt undervalued, and went out to test the market. Only thing is – there was no market for Smith. He didn’t receive a single offer from any team in the entire league. In fairness, the 49ers offer was a very good one, and one I believe was beyond fair and generous for a QB of his level (and one that he eventually signed). But the fact that they didn’t franchise him, and fully allowed him to test the market speaks volumes. The Miami Dolphins, desperate for a QB, didn’t even offer him a contract (even though they met with him). Lest you forget, the Dolphins pretty much suck. I can’t even name you any other teams, because Miami was pretty much the only team that gave this guy a call. Now, by my count, there were about 10 teams (including San Francisco) that had needs at the starting QB position before both free agency and the draft.

Here are some more Smith facts – a year ago, the 49ers had so much faith in this guy, they drafted QB Colin Kaepernick in the 2nd round. Kaepernick wasn’t drafted as a “sit and wait” QB – he was expected to compete for and win the job. So what saved Smith’s bacon? The lockout. New coach Jim Harbaugh didn’t have the time to really work with the kid like he would’ve liked, so he went with the experienced guy on the roster. That’s it. Nothing more. When Smith performed decently during the season, the team felt a breath of relief. And lest one tries the argument of how it wouldn’t matter since it was a new coach – Harbaugh kept much of he 49ers’ system that was previously in place the year before since he didn’t have a full offseason to make major changes. Smith, of course, was familiar with that system.

What’s that? I’m missing something? Oh, believe me, I know. I know how San Francisco went balls to the wall to get Peyton Manning. I know full well the coach who rejuvenated Smith’s career and who supposedly had so much faith in his ability had no contact with him during this time period, and was the first person to go see Manning throw at Duke, secretly flying in under cover of night. I know that the 49ers put on the press harder than any other team until Manning told them he wasn’t interested. Big show of confidence, right?

But let’s get to the meat of the argument, and the perception that some people (my friend included) bought into – that Smith’s comments hold merit. Because, make no mistake about this in any capacity…THEY DON’T. See, outside of throwing a guy under the bus, Smith’s comments actually aren’t true in relation to Cam Newton. This line stands out in particular: “…if you’re losing games in the second half, guess what? You’re like the Carolina Panthers and you’re going no-huddle the entire second half and, yeah, Cam Newton threw for a lot of 300-yard games, that’s great. You’re not winning, though.” The only part of that statement that’s true is Cam and the Panthers didn’t win. But the STRONG implication, the one that most people in the NFL (by their own words, not mine), the media and the public took to heart, was that Cam got his stats because his team was always losing, and thus, they were constantly trying to throw the ball to attempt to stay in games, padding Cam’s stats and making him look like a better QB than he actually was. There’s an implication that HIS (Cam’s) stats were overblown, and that he isn’t as good as advertised.

Rubbish.

Look up what Smith did in HIS rookie season. It WON’T be pretty.

What Smith says assumes (A) Newton was always putting up stats in garbage time and (B) it’s easy to get the stats Newton got. If it’s so easy, how come no other rookie ever did it? Stands to reason most rookie QBs are on teams that aren’t top-caliber (the first-year starters, at least). No, it’s dismissive of a record-breaking achievement. Drew Brees puts up gaudy numbers whether his teams are good or bad (feel free to check his career stats and the win-loss records of the teams he’s played on – whether the teams’ are good or not, he pretty much always gets his numbers). So one could dismiss his numbers if they chose to, but it would be foolish to. Smith’s first season as a starter wasn’t in the same galaxy as Newton’s, by the way. Hell, no one’s was – because Cam broke every major rookie QB record of note. Smith isn’t even in the top 20 of rookie seasons by a QB. Hell – not even top 50 (look it up). Remember – Smith was a #1 draft pick, just like Newton. Please don’t forget that.

Smith didn’t go 13-3 because he was so great – he wasn’t even a Pro Bowl selection. He went 13-3 because he had a top 5 defense and a fantastic running game. Teams didn’t game plan to shut him down AT ALL. People who just take stats without context might buy the crap he said. But he’s as responsible for his team’s gaudy record as Joe Flacco is. Meaning – they both rode great defenses and strong running games to success. The difference is – Flacco at least HAS been above-average his entire career. Smith has been sub-par until last year. And both QBs had somewhat similar seasons stat-wise last year, both of which were good seasons for both.

But make no mistake – Ray Rice, Frank Gore and their defenses were the main components of the Baltimore Ravens’ and 49ers’ success last season. Anyone arguing differently is a fool.

Now, here’s the point I made to my buddy on this – I WATCHED these games. While my friend appeared to have taken Smith’s words as valid, and simplified it down to the wins & losses argument – I knew that argument held no water because I actually saw the games. Hell, it’s essentially why I know so much about sports – I watch the actual games. In today’s society, we have so many people who form their opinions off of watching ESPN highlights and reading stories or listening to/watching talking heads segments…they try to form accurate opinions on things without actually having seen things for themselves. When I was growing up, I got popped if I joined an adult’s conversation without knowing what I was talking about. And I remember watching the adult men clowning any guy who spoke up who didn’t know what he was talking about. Now – it’s commonplace. Everyone has an opinion, but few can back it with substance.

I not only watched the games that came on Sundays and Mondays (including games seen on NFL League Pass and Canadian TV once in a while), I watched THE REPLAYS on NFL Network during the week. That’s right – even after seeing the highlights and knowing the results, I still watched replays of most of the games throughout the week if I was home. I don’t watch TV shows as much as others – I watch sports. And read. I have my shows, but I think there’s probably less than 10 TV shows I watch regularly in the course of a year. So I saw almost every Carolina game, and I saw most of the 49ers games as well.

Why did I bring this up? Because Cam’s numbers actually came over the course of entire games; he did not pad his stats in blow out losses as implied by Smith. All of the scrutiny by the entire sports media, yet no one has brought up this supposed reality until Smith? Bullcrap. I watched the games. I KNOW better. Stats without context make for people speaking without actual knowledge of the subject matter.

However – stats WITH context are used by knowledgeable folks all the time. After I made this point to my friend – about watching the games and seeing Cam do it throughout, not just at the end – I decided to look up what my own eyes saw. Bingo – the eyes don’t lie. This is what I found (again, anyone can feel free to look these things up and prove me wrong):

Out of ten losses, the Carolina Panthers were only blown out in 3. So, they were

Cam Newton sure looked good for a guy with supposedly padded his stats.

in the game in 7 out of 10 losses. Not exactly padding stats in the 2nd half. Overall for the year, the Panthers led in 14 of 16 games, including 10 in the fourth quarter, but of those 10 they won only six. Carolina finished 6-10 and behind Newton’s offensive production upped its scoring average from 12.2 points per game in 2010 to 25.4 points per game in 2011. Newton completed 60 percent of his passes for 4,051 yards and 21 touchdowns, with 17 interceptions, and he rushed 126 times for 706 yards and 14 touchdowns, the most for a quarterback in NFL history.

So, just look at that for a second. Soak those statistical facts, that I saw with my own eyes, in. And also realize – Newton is one of the rare QBs who had more TDs than interceptions in his rookie year, and of those interceptions, some of them were FORCED in an effort to win. One could argue had he had an even average NFL defense, you could lower the INTs by about 5-7 in number.

Do you now realize that Smith’s words and implications aren’t just off – they’re literally ABSURD?!? Like…literally. ABSURD. To quote Skip Bayless, Smith’s assertion is “asiNINE, asiTEN, asiELEVEN…”

From a man’s standpoint, what Smith did was what some of us call “b***ha$$ness”. This isn’t a case of a defensive player throwing a jab at a rival, like James Harrison saying something about Joe Flacco, or Ray Lewis talking about Eddie George. Rivals talk crap about each other, tweak each other, etc. – it’s par for the course. But one thing you don’t see – you don’t see QBs randomly throwing each other under the bus. Think about it – with Tebow-mania last year, how many active QBs did you hear say anything negative about him? For the 5 years Brett Favre fought LeBron James as the biggest attention-whore in all of sports, how many active QBs talked bad about him? Anyone ever hear a current QB chime in on Tony Romo when everyone else is grilling him?

No. Because you don’t do that. You’re all QBs – you understand. You know the deal. You’re part of the same fraternity. Leave that to the media, analysts, ex-players, etc. But QBs don’t trash other QBs. Even ESPN anchor Trey Wingo said in reference to this “Keep my name out your mouth” (editorializing what he thought Cam’s thoughts should be on this).

So yes – like I said above…Alex Smith is a b***h. The question I posed before – why did he do this? Well – I can’t prove this, and I may never be able to – but it’s what I think…

Because of good ol’ jealousy and bias.

Let me be clear so there’s no misunderstanding – I’m 100% saying Cam Newton’s race had to do with this. Absolutely. I can’t prove this, and I’m pretty positive if this was brought up in the larger media conversation, Smith would eventually deny it as completely untrue. We’d get the obligatory stories of how many Black teammates he’s had, the great relationships he’s had with Black players and people he knows, what he’s done in charity that involved Black folks…etc. You’d have Black teammates stepping up to speak up for the guy, no doubt. Just like if your co-worker said something negative about a Black employee that you suspected was rooted subconsciously (or consciously) in racial bias or prejudice, there are probably many who wouldn’t see it as that – and probably a small number who would.

But I simply don’t believe he would’ve mentioned Andy Dalton’s name if HE had the same season and stats as Cam. You know who ACTUALLY had the type of season Smith described? One with good stats that were padded late in games? Philip Rivers. Know how I know? I had him on a fantasy team. Every single week, I’d look at how he was performing during his games, pissed that it was the 3rd quarter and his stats were anemic. I tried to trade him all year – couldn’t get a good deal back. Everyone low-balled me. But you know what? Come the 4th quarter, Rivers’ stats would improve considerably. This didn’t occur in every game, but A LOT of them. By the end of the game, I had somehow squeezed out at least 250-300 yards and a couple of TDs out of a guy who went into the 3rd quarter barely over the century mark. Note – Rivers threw for over 4,000 last year as well; he actually had 4,624 to Cam’s 4,051.

Why didn’t Smith mention Rivers? Who is a veteran QB who was literally criticized for under-performing in the first half of most of his games during the course of the year NUMEROUS times?? Why didn’t he name Tony Romo – who had the same criticisms? Cam didn’t get that criticism all year, and his games and stats were broke down meticulously every week.

Competitive nature, you speculate? Hmm – Cam Newton has never played a single down against the 49ers. Not in last year’s preseason. Not in last year’s regular season. Nor are they scheduled to meet this season, either. It’s completely possible Smith has never even been within 25 miles of Newton. Ever.

They have never been in the same division. They’ve never had any historical rivalry. Smith’s college, Utah, has never had any beef with Newton’s schools (Florida and Auburn). This is like me talking about the director of marketing at my job – I’ve never met the guy (or woman).

Newton popped into a QB’s head who doesn’t have any relationship with due to the fact that he’s a Black QB who bucked what he was “supposed” to do (which was have a crappy season, NOT torch the league and it’s records). I don’t expect many to agree, because in my experience many people need blatantly racist or prejudiced words or actions to believe that as a possibility – but as someone who has watched this game my entire life and who is sensitive to these subtle digs at certain players – that’s what I see. In fact, in writing this article, I tried to think of the many players who have had racial digs or underlying slick comments directed at them…and it was easier for me to think of the Black pro QBs I can think of who I’ve never heard anything like that for. You know who they are?

Vince Evans (only when he played for the Raiders) and Charlie Batch. That’s it. Literally. And I’m not even saying it never happened with them – I just never heard or read it in regards to both.Those are the only 2 Black pro QBs out of 30+ years of watching football that I can think of like that.

Cam’s used to this crap by now. In fact, if I was him, I’d end each press conference by saying “Your daughters love me” – just to see how many people’s heads explode at the thought.

It’s completely speculative that Smith’s comments are born out of a bit of jealousy and racial animus, and unless he decides to become a much more vocal presence in media, we may never know either way. I just know the facts and circumstances I’ve laid out here. Newton, who by this point is beyond used to shade being thrown his way, I’m sure ain’t sweatin’ this much. But I felt like someone needed to actually refute the implications and insinuations put out by Smith (I’ve encountered no articles doing so to the degree I have), and to put some speculation as to why Smith would even purse his lips to say Cam’s name.

What Smith needs to do, really, is man up and SHUT THE F*** UP. Had he said the same about Philip Rivers, my opinion would be the same as far as him throwing another QB under the bus – you don’t do that. Accept that you’re being questioned about your statistics because you’ve been a mediocre QB almost your entire career, and you’re a #1 draft pick who has had the likes of Tim Rattay, Ken Dorsey, Trent Dilfer, Shaun Hill, J.T. O’Sullivan, Chris Weinke and Troy Smith start OVER you in your career thus far. A guy who was going to be CUT after the 2009 season until you agreed to re-structure your contract to remain on the team. A guy whose team has tried to bring a QB to replace you 2 years in a row. A guy who completed only 46% of your passes in the NFC Championship loss to the NY Giants.

A guy who will NEVER be as good of a QB as Cam Newton is already. Because if Newton had your team – they might have won the Super Bowl. And Newton wouldn’t have been classless enough to throw anyone under the bus when asked about improving his game – since he’s been asked about it already, and thus far, has simply said he’s working to get better.

Sad to say – but Alex Smith could learn a lot by watching a former rookie/2nd year player if he could get over himself. As it stands, he just added himself to the “athletes I don’t like” team. And even on that squad – he’s not good enough to be a starter. Something I’m sure he’s used to.

THIS is the Alex Smith I’ve known for the better part of 6 seasons.

Well, here we are – sports lovers everywhere are still talking about the magnificent games from Sunday’s conference championships. The NFL couldn’t have gotten it any better – 2 games, both hard fought, both going down to the last play to decide the game. There was great defense, exciting offensive plays – and much drama to lure people in. We even had quite possibly the worst rendition of the national anthem ever done before a nationally televised NFL playoff game (thanks, Steven Tyler!).

With all that was wrapped up in yesterday’s games, I figured I’d offer a few opinions and observations on one of the most exciting conference championship Sundays in years…

  • Any comparison between Trent Dilfer and Joe Flacco is pure nonsense.

    The Trent Dilfer/Joe Flacco comparisons were ridiculous. No, really – reading articles making that comparison and hearing people even bring it up make me question their knowledge of football. Honestly – do people even have any facts or knowledge to go with their opinions any more? Joe Flacco’s only crime in his brief time thus far in the NFL is that he’s not an elite QB. Meaning – he’s not one of the Manning brothers, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Michael Vick,etc. But he’s a damn good QB, and one I think half the teams in the league would be very satisfied with. Trent Dilfer? The man was putridat the QB position – so much so, HE willingly admits it when pressed on it.Joe Flacco had his worst percentage throwing the ball this year (57.6). Even with that, he was able to throw for 3,600 yards and 20 TDs (vs. 12 Ints) on a team centered around an all-pro, all-purpose running back in Ray Rice. By comparison, Trent Dilfer had a worse percentage throwing the ball in 9 out of 14 of his NFL seasons – and the year that Baltimore won the Super Bowl, he had 1,502 yards passing, with 12 TDs vs. 11 Ints. The Baltimore Ravens literally won in spite of this QB monstrosity. And I don’t recall him ever being the reason they won a single game, like Flacco has been numerous times. In fact – he led them to victory yesterday, if not for Lee Evans having the ball ripped ripped out of his hands for a TD, and Billy Cundiff getting his Shankapotamus on during the gimme field goal attempt to force overtime.

    People need to go look at stats and video of people before the make such foolish comparisons.

  • Speaking of Lee Evan and Billy Cundiff – yikes. Add San Francisco’s Kyle Williams to that bunch. I’d be sick if I was any of those 3 players, but especially Williams and Cundiff. Evans at least was the victim of an awesome play by the well-traveled cast-off-turned-playoff-hero Sterling Moore. The other 2 guys? I can’t offer even the slightest excuse for them. Williams lost a fumble earlier in the game that resulted in a NY score – you’d think he’d be especiallycareful the rest of that game. Cundiff? I wouldn’t have even let him change in the same locker room as me if I was his teammate.I’d cut Williams and Cundiff the next morning if I was either team’s GM. Evans? No, because the play made on him actually isn’t such a rare occurrence, and was just a heads up, quick-thinking play by the defender. Baltimore still had 2 plays to win or tie after that.

    Sidenote: I like watching the different racial dynamics in terms of how large numbers of people view and react to things. I have about 700 friends on my personal Facebook page…after the Baltimore-New England game, it was interesting to read the reactions of people in my feed. Most people who aren’t Buffalonians couldn’t believe Cundiff missed the kick, and reacted with shock about it. However, Buffalonians, specifically white Buffalonians, all centered in on Lee Evans and blamed him as much as Cundiff – and in some cases, more. And the first thing they brought up was “Ronnie Harmon” – the scapegoat of the 1989 divisional playoff game between the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills. I’ve always had an issue with the scapegoating of Ronnie – Ronnie dropped a potential game winning TD, but Buffalo still had time on the clock to win. However, the very next play, Jim Kelly threw an interception. In Buffalo, Harmon became a villain, and to this day gets talked about in a derisive manner. Kelly took no hit for his awful interception – most people don’t even recall it here.

    This stands out because Buffalo (and the Western New York area) is a very segregated, racialized area. It simmers beneath the surface, but it’s very apparent, especially to outsiders who come here. While I’m not saying white Buffalonians purposely decided to hang the blame on Black players as the villains of both games and ignore or lessen the impact of the mistakes made by white players…looking at that reaction and seeing no one else in the country in my feed having that reaction except white Buffalonians speaks to observations I’ve made for many years when it comes to sports and race in this region.

  • Disliking Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots has nothing to do with the reality that this team is THE team of the past 10 years.

    Why can’t people ever simply give the New England Patriots props? 5th Super Bowl appearance since 2001? Winning despite their supposedly “awful” defense? Playing players out of position when needed – Aaron Hernandez at RB; Julian Edelmanat DB? In-game adjustments and reactions that befuddle and bewilder opponents year in and year out??Understand this, because it’s a theme I’ve been screaming for years – some where along the line, some people have confused dislike or hate of a team (or certain players) with actual reality. Your dislike means nothing in terms of reality. The Patriots are good, Bill Belichick is the best coach in the game, and Tom Brady is money in the bank. Between the teeth gnashing and complaining, make sure to give these guys their props.

  • Speaking of props, let’s give some out to The Harbaugh brothers. These two guys came up one game short of a Super Bowl match-up straight out of Hollywood. Brother vs. brother…man, what a storyline THAT would have been. Both men did a great job in coaching their teams this season, and honestly are a couple of plays short of reaching the top of the NFL mountain. Respect to those guys – their both great coaches.Sidenote: How sick are you if you’re a Miami Dolphins fan seeing what Jim Harbaugh did in one season with a formerly crappy team?? You’re looking at that thinking “That could’ve been US…”
  • NY Giants coach Tom Coughlin deserves props, too. This guy had to deal with his entire defense being hurt at different points of the season, losing his top 2 WRs, his top RB, linemen, etc. He also had the cloud over his head of possibly being fired…but he never gave up on his team or the season. Personally, I think it was silly to entertain getting rid of him in the first place. Say what you will, but his team always plays hard, and he always gets the best out of his players – even if he’s mean as hell, and considered a bit douchey in how he deals with players at times. He commands respect – he’s old school. And to be honest, while people will bring up Mike McCarthy, Bill Belichick, and Jim Harbaugh as coach of the year candidates – I think no one is more deserving than Coughlin.
  • You can’t spell “elite” without ELI. As I’m sure you all know by now…
  • Count me among the proud Black Latinos happy to see Victor Cruz taking his salsa dancing to Super Bowl…
  • If the 49ers can keep their defense as good as it was this year, and upgrade their WR corps…they could be beyond scary next year.
  • Well, looks like I was right about a few things, and wrong about others. If you look back at my playoff predictions from the beginning of the season, you can see where I went wrong and where I was on-point. Like many, I was fooled by the hype of the Philadelphia Eagles, and the bluster of Rex Ryan and the NY Jets. But I was right to call Green Bay not repeating, Atlanta & New Orleans duking it out to win their division, and the Texans and Lions emerging. But my St. Louis and San Diegopicks? Doh!!I picked the Patriots to win it if they played Atlanta, and to lose if they played New Orleans. But who do I go with now that we have a rematch with the Giants? Who wins?

    I’ll save that for another article in the near future. And it doesn’t escape me that I was right about my AFC pick – I usually pick at least one of the Super Bowl participants correctly each year. However, this will be the first time in about 2 years I didn’t flat-out pick the Super Bowl champion from the beginning.  Hey – I SAID the lockout threw me off earlier this season. Lolz! =)

    Until next time, remember – Shoot, Pass, Quibble!