Note: Sometime in 2015, I sat down to write some thoughts before the Chiefs/Packers game in Green Bay on a Monday night. This post had swear words, but I have since cleaned it up for a larger audience’s consumption.
Before I get started, I realize most everyone who cares about this game on some level or just cares about the NFL doesn’t expect the Chiefs to win. Heck, deep down, I don’t expect the Chiefs to win. There is just too much going against them and because the Chiefs.
What People Have Repeatedly Said Before This Chiefs/Packers Game
People are looking at the game the Kansas City Chiefs will play in Green Bay and they will say one of a few things.
First, this is a rematch of the first two Super Bowl Teams, when the game they originally played in January 1967 was called the AFL-NFL World Championship.
Second, this is a chance for Aaron Rodgers to justify that the 49ers picked the wrong QB in 2005. I have heard that too many times and it always pisses me off.
I have no problem with the first statement. As the first teams to compete in a Super Bowl, the Chiefs and Packers will be forever linked. It is an interesting bit of history, and so is the record between the teams. Counting Super Bowl I, the Chiefs lead the series with the Packers 7-2-1 and the Chiefs have won all 3 meetings at Lambeau Field.
The second statement is utterly stupid.
For one thing, Alex Smith is no longer with the 49ers.
Second, I think Rodgers is over it, or as over it as he can be considering. He has won a Super Bowl and has had sustained success with the Packers. Smith has never been to a Super Bowl (and I’m not counting the 2012 season because dude lost his job for having a concussion, a low blow by Harbaugh).
Rodgers has the better numbers, and that goes with having a far better coaching staff from the beginning of his career and more consistency. More on that in a bit.
Third, Smith and Rodgers are friends. There would be nothing more than a friendly rivalry there, if that, but both have jobs to do regardless.
Why I’m Writing This Post
What I want to say about Tonight’s game is this: The result means absolutely nothing outside of what both teams are doing in the here and now. How good are they and how will this game affect them going forward? A win for either team would be nice but no player is thinking about the petty business fans and reporter-fans are pushing.
It’s an early season game and a loss by the Chiefs would put them in a hole but not too big of one, looking at the difficulty of their remaining schedule.* A win by KC would mean a lot, since their first four games constituted the most difficult part of their schedule.
A win by the Packers would put them one full game ahead of the Minnesota Vikings again. A loss would mean a tie in the NFC North, but I trust the Packers will find a way to earn their fifth-straight division title, or at least earn a Wildcard. The team is just too good, although the race in the NFC may get tighter later on.
(I’m waiting to see what happens with six other NFC teams, too. Those teams are: the Cardinals, Seahawks, Panthers, Falcons, Giants, and Cowboys.)
Anyway, that’s all people should focus on, unless one wants to ask the fair question of where the Chiefs’ heads are at. I truly wanted KC to win on the 17th, and it was the team’s best chance to do it against a broken-down Peyton Manning, but alas, the Chiefs gave that game away. It was theirs for the taking, even against the legit Denver defense, with its dirty players. (Von Miller is a cheap-shot artist.)
On topic: after a loss like that, this game could be an indicator of the Chiefs’ character. That is all.
What I Want to Say to 49ers Fans, Et Al.
Now, for all those 49er fans and football fans who want to keep repeating this Rodgers lament, I say stop. Just stop. It was stupid even five years ago and it’s stupid now.
If Rodgers was picked #1 overall in 2005, he wouldn’t be in the NFL today. People like to extrapolate and assume that the quarterback we see today would have been the same regardless of his situation. That is patently ridiculous. It discounts coaching for one thing, and it ignores all the other variables that would have been at play given the way the 49ers were being run.
As someone who followed the San Francisco 49ers since Steve Young was the starting QB, I have seen the team go from very good, to mediocre, to the dumpster fire that garnered the #1 pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, to good again, to this mess we have now. None of it can be blamed on one person, let along one player.
Who Should Be Blamed?
If anyone deserves blame, it would be the ownership, the GM’s and the bad coaches the 49ers had over the years. An owner hires the GM, the GM may hire the coach, and sometimes the first two conspire against the coach for no good reason and hire an unsuitable replacement. That’s what happened in 2003 when Mooch (Steve Mariuchi) was replaced with Dennis Erickson and now Jim Harbaugh was dumped so Jim Tomsula could be promoted from Defensive Line Coach.
On top of that, you can add questionable draft choices and bad free agency signings. It also helps when loaded contracts are still on the books, even though the players who signed them are no longer with the team. That’s what happened in 2003-04 and it was mainly due to players being let go because they didn’t fit the scheme.
The 49ers were a mess before Mike Nolan got there, they were still a mess before he was ultimately fired during the 2008 season, and they were a mess when Mike Singletary took over. During that time, over 10 quarterbacks made starts in regular season games for the 49ers. All were kept on a short leash and all who were with the team for over a season suffered through constant Offensive coordinator changes (7 in as many years, and that would be 8 once Harbaugh arrived in 2011).
Nolan also ignored the severity of injuries various players had, and this includes a third-degree separated shoulder Smith had in 2007.
What Do I Think of Smith?
Having said the above, do I think Alex Smith was a reach? Sure, given how prepared he was at the time and the team’s actual needs at that juncture. At Utah, he worked mainly from the shotgun, so working under center was a big adjustment. The offensive line was also a problem, and Smith eventually suffered an injury when playing against Washington.
I daresay that Rodgers would have been a reach, as well. He had as much collegiate experience as Smith: three years, and Rodgers’ experience includes one year at Butte Junior College. Rodgers also needed work on his mechanics — help that he got as Mike McCarthy, the head coach in Green Bay since 2006, held a QB camp to work with his signal callers. Did Smith have that?
Ask Rodgers himself, and he would say various people had a hand in his success, including his coaches. He proclaims sitting for 3 seasons and learning while Brett Favre was the starter was beneficial. Rodgers has also said that if he had to go through the nonsense Smith went through, he would have quit a long time ago.
And, You Know What?
Yes, I would agree that Smith has lasted in the NFL as long as he as in part because of how he handled things. If he had gone to the press and outed his coach as a flaming jerkwad (fans were already coming to this conclusion anyway), would he still have a job? Would he have been with the team or sent to some QB hell like Oakland was or Cleveland was (and still is)?
Does anyone have the nerve to tell me that wouldn’t happen to Rodgers? There’s just no way he would have taken half that abuse without saying something and letting his feelings be known. As I recall, he was quite pissed at Coach McCarthy during a game in Minnesota in 2012 and was seen yelling on the sidelines. He would have been swiftly punished for something like that if Nolan was his coach.
The bottom line is we would have neither QB in 2013, let alone ten years after that fateful draft.
I’m just sick and tired of people living in the past and playing the What If Game with tunnel vision. It serves no fruitful purpose. I would rather focus on the here and now.
People would be better served to complain how the Yorks suck, because they do. Or, we can actually learn from the past and make better decisions. Both would be better than using a stupid argument that’s been regurgitated more than cow cud.
10 Things We Need to Learn from Smith’s Woes In San Francisco
The fact is, there are at least 10 lessons that can be learned from the early Smith years. And again, one of those lessons is not, “Herp-Derp, we should have freaking drafted AARON RODGERS!!!1111 ONE ONE ONE ELEVEN.” No, what can be learned is the following:
When Drafting a Quarterback
- Don’t draft a quarterback high in the first — let alone #1 overall — unless he is truly ready to start his rookie year.
- You should probably work on building the supporting cast (particularly the offensive line!) before you even think of drafting a franchise QB anyway.
- If you are a defensive-minded coach and know next to nothing about what it takes to run an effective offense, find people who do. Give them a reasonable amount of freedom to improve your offense and develop your players.
If You’re a Coach and a GM
- For the love of God, if you are a head coach who also acts as GM, don’t let anyone from your [offensive] coaching staff leave after your prospective franchise QB’s rookie year. Lock those people down for at least 3 years so your offense has some consistency.
- Also, if you do let anyone from your offensive coaching staff leave to become a coach for another NFL team, don’t make the same mistake with the next guy. Especially if your second-year franchise quarterback reports that he actually made some strides with your new Quarterbacks Coach/Offensive Coordinator, changing course will set the offense back.
When Developing Your Team
- Don’t keep your young QB on a short leash and don’t act like he’s the enemy. If you grew accustomed to hating quarterbacks as a defensive guy, shake that off because hating your QB is counterproductive.
- Have a capable veteran behind your young QB. Really. He needs a mentor who is on the same team and another QB with more experience provides valuable insights.
- Don’t question your players’ toughness the way Mike Nolan did with Alex Smith and others. There needs to be a basic understanding of each possible injury and things like concussions, knee injuries, staph infections, and shoulder injuries are nothing to mess with.
- Don’t badmouth any of your players in front of the press. Keep that crap in-house.
- While we’re at it, a good coach would blame himself for any of the team’s failures before he placed any considerable blame on any of his players — at least in public or in front of the whole team. Chances are, it is the coach’s dang fault.
The 49ers did everything wrong with their quarterback situation and it showed. Sadly, I can’t really say the team actually learned from it.
Smith survived, but he has been permanently damaged from it. He is a product of coaching, good and bad. That is what he was taught in the NFL in the formative years of his career.
You know what? Let’s ignore everything I just said. Forget what Rodgers says about himself and all the evidence to support this.
Let’s just act like spoiled children on Christmas when the topic of quarterbacks is broached. Maybe that’s more fun. I need to try it some time.
*Update: After the Chiefs played the Packers, KC dropped to 1-2 on the season. The team would go on to lose the next 3 games to start 1-5.
During that losing streak, the Chiefs lost Jamaal Charles for the rest of the season to an ACL injury but would go on to win their next 10 regular season games to finish 11-5 and earn a playoff spot. And after going 22 years and 8 playoff games without a postseason victory, the Chiefs finally won in the city where their last postseason victory was: in Houston.
Post Updated on January 4, 2017.