Tag:Alex Smith
Posted on: September 28, 2010 9:59 am
Edited on: September 28, 2010 5:07 pm

Top Ten with a Twist: Biggest problems

Mike Singletary has led his San Francisco squad to an 0-3 start to the season (AP).
Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The first game, if your favorite team has a bad day at the office, you can forgive it. “Ah, it’s just one game,” you might say. “My men have plenty of time, and it was the first game of the season. Obviously, they haven’t worked out all the kinks.” You can still sleep at night.

The second game, if your team stinks up the joint again, you can forgive it. With reservations. “OK, it’s only two games. The season is still long. You can still make the playoffs if you start it out 0-2. They’re still figuring things out.” You still sleep at night, though probably not as soundly.

By the third game, though, if your team is still playing really, really poorly, you might have a tough time catching those Z's. By game three, problem teams – and problem players – are becoming more “the trend” and less “just a phase.” Your team might really suck, after all. Your favorite player might officially be over the hill.

You might officially have a problem.

10. Carson Palmer:
I’ve watched Palmer closely the past five or six years, and after the Jets beat Cincinnati in the playoffs last year, I wrote Palmer was no longer an elite quarterback (you can’t be elite, after all, if your stats fall somewhere between Jason Campbell and David Garrard). He’s continued his struggles this year, and though, the Bengals don’t need him quite as much if they have a healthy Cedric Benson, you can close the book on him as one of the best in the game.

9. Shawne Merriman’s Achilles/Andre Johnson’s ankle: Let’s combine two annoying injuries for players who would do well to stay on the field. Merriman, who missed much of the preseason because of a holdout/Achilles injury, played the last two weeks, but he had to leave Sunday’s contest because of a calf injury. Though he’s not the player he once was, he’s a better option for San Diego than Antwan Applewhite and Brandon Lang. And Johnson’s ankle is self-explanatory. If he’s not on the field – and he’s had to miss part of the past two games – the Texans offense isn’t nearly as potent.

8. David Garrard: I know, I hate putting two QBs on here in the first three picks, but, unlike Palmer, I’m not sure why Garrard is still playing with the first string. I mean, aside from Todd Bouman (hasn’t thrown a pass in five seasons) being his only backup. Coach Jack Del Rio was asked how much longer he could play Garrard, and Del Rio said as long as he was the team’s best option. Meaning he’s the team’s only option. Which is bad news.

7. Ben Roethlisberger’s return:
This isn’t about Roethlisberger necessarily and I assume coach Mike Tomlin will give him back his job when he returns from his four-game suspension, but the Steelers could be 4-0 playing a combination of Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch. Roethlisberger obviously is a better QB than either of those two, but he’ll probably be rusty. What if he struggles against the Browns in his first game? What if Miami’s defense lights him up the week after that? Will Steelers fans be chanting Charlie Batch’s name (probably not, but you never know …)?

6. Brandyn Dombrowski:
So, how soon can Marcus McNeill return for San Diego? Dombrowski, playing LT and trying to protect Philip Rivers’ blindside, had a tough time against Seattle on Sunday, Chris Clemons toasted him a few times to sack Rivers, and on the Chargers’ first attempt to get within two late in the game – the first time Rivers hit TE Antonio Gates – Dombrowski was called for holding. San Diego coach Norv Turner has defended him, but Dombrowski had a rough one in the Chargers loss.

G. Hartley had a rough week for New Orleans last week and is in danger of losing his job (AP). 5. Garrett Hartley: It’s hard to believe how badly Hartley missed his game-winning 29-yard field goal in overtime of the Falcons victory against the Saints. Coach Sean Payton has shown plenty of loyalty to Hartley, but Hartley directly cost New Orleans the game Sunday. How many more games will he negatively impact the Saints before he’s off the team? Maybe, none. John Carney and Matt Stover apparently have tried out for the Saints this week, and at this point, if Hartley lasts the year in New Orleans, it’d be kind of a surprise. 

4. The entire AFC/NFC West: We’ll get into San Francisco’s Mike Singletary in a minute, but man, how inconsistent have these conferences been? Oakland has been terrible (against Tennessee), less terrible (a win against St. Louis), and almost not terrible enough to win again (a 24-23 loss to Arizona). Derek Anderson has worked his anti-magic for the Cardinals. And you still don’t know what you’re going to get when Seattle runs onto the field for the game. I'm still shocked St. Louis beat Washington. These divisions are wide open for the taking, especially when Kansas City starts 3-0 and leads the AFC West.

3. Chargers kick return coverage:
OK, so you saw what Leon Washington did against San Diego on Sunday, returning a kick for 101 yards for the TD and then returning another kick for 99 yards. That was unreal. But don’t forget about Kansas City’s Dexter McCluster, who had a 94-yard punt return in the season opener vs. San Diego. On Monday, several Chargers veterans volunteered for special teams duties in order to help improve that unit. Hey, it certainly couldn’t hurt.

2. Giants discipline:
Remember how Antrel Rolle complained about how much control the coaching staff held over the players? Well, that’s not exactly true, especially when we’re talking about New York’s 11 penalties, including five personal fouls that occurred after the play was over, in its bad loss to Tennessee. Two 15-yarders came courtesy of RT Kareem McKenzie (behavior McKenzie called “despicable” the next day), and Rolle incurred one when he tried to punch Tennessee TE Craig Stevens. With performances like that, you have to wonder what kind of control coach Tom Coughlin actually asserts over his players. And how much longer he’ll be in control of the Giants at all.

1. Mike Singletary:
After the 49ers 31-10 beatdown by the Chiefs, word filtered out that Kansas City’s defenders apparently were calling out San Francisco’s play calls before the plays were actually run. Now, the 49ers are 0-3, and maybe, aside from pulling down his pants to motivate his team, Singletary doesn’t exactly seem like an X’s and O’s guy. He actually was asked after the game if he had been outcoached, and he said, “I would not say ‘outcoached.’ When you have a loss like this, a lot of things look wrong.” Like the offense. And a day after backing his offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye and saying he’d be around the rest of the season, Singletary fired him. That means new offensive coordinator Mike Johnson continues the streak of Alex Smith never playing for the same coordinator in back-to-back seasons. I’m sure that will help.

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Posted on: September 27, 2010 3:06 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2010 3:07 pm

F&R NFL Approval Matrix: Week 3

Posted by Will Brinson  

Our affinity for graphs and charts and purty pictures knows no bounds, so (with a nod to the smartypants at  NY Mag ), we present our first-ever NFL approval matrix. Suggestions, complaints and intellecutual property lawsuits may be directed to us on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL) .

Click to  embiggen .

Posted on: September 27, 2010 11:11 am
Edited on: September 27, 2010 5:42 pm

49ers fire offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye

Posted by Andy Benoit
J. Raye (US Presswire)
The 49ers announced that they have fired offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye. This comes just one day after Mike Singletary publicly backed the maligned playcaller. (In fairness to Singletary, his support of Raye was issued during a postgame news conferenc. So what else was he going to say? Can you imagine the backlash if Singletary had fired Raye right there on the spot?)

The 0-3 Niners have been awful offensively in both of their road losses. They scored just six points at Seattle, which was almost as many timeouts as they burned due to slow play-calling. Sunday, the Niners managed only 10 points, seven of them coming in garbage time.

Second-year quarterback coach Mike  Johnson will take over from Raye. Johnson had been serving as the middle man in play-calling (literally...Raye would make the call and Johnson would relay it to Alex Smith).

UPDATE (5:40 p.m.):
Here was the transcript from part of today's Singletary news conference.

On changing his mind about Jimmy Raye:

“Well after I got back here I went home, and I said you know what, I’m just going to go back and look at the film. So, I came back here and basically spent the night here looking at film. And just kind of looked at the overall view of where we are, and looking at where we need to go, and felt that I needed to make the change. And so that’s really all it was.”

On whether he was prompted by Front Office staff to make the move:

“No. One thing I want you to understand is if I make a decision, it’s my decision. The thing that I have control over is the 53 man staff, the 53 man roster and the staff, who is on my coaching staff. That is my decision.”

On what he saw in the film:

“That I need to make a change.”

On what he saw specifically that prompted the change:

“Not going there. Just needed to make a change.”

On whether he sought advice on the move or whether he did it by himself:

“Just me sitting here by myself."

On his primary reasons for making the coaching change:

“Well I just felt that for the overall scheme of things, where we are, I just felt that right now that Mike Johnson would do a good job.”

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Posted on: September 21, 2010 12:05 am
Edited on: September 21, 2010 12:10 am

Niners should still be optimistic after loss

Posted by Will Brinson

Unfortunately for the San Francisco 49ers, 1:14 on the clock with two timeouts and Drew Brees under center is just a little too much to leave out on the field when you score. Clearly they couldn't have purposely left any more time on the clock when Frank Gore punctuated a thrilling drive with a seven-yard rush, but expecting anything less from the defending champs would have been silly. Indeed, they finished the game off with a 37-yard Garrett Hartley kick (which may or may not have been blocked IN) amid swirling winds.

Still, for a team that's 0-2 and suffered a complete travashamockery of an embarrassment in Week 1 at Seattle, things could be worse for San Francisco.

For starters, they have talent. No one's questioning whether or not Michael CrabtreeVernon Davis and Josh Morgan are good -- the biggest issue was Alex Smith actually being able to get them the ball. He did that Monday night, and despite registering two picks, he did it well, racking up 275 yards.

Then there's Frank Gore, who looked as explosive as he ever has while piling up 112 yards on 20 carries (including a touchdown) and 56 receiving yards on seven catches (also including a touchdown). As long as he's healthy, that team will be able to stay in games.

Before we get to the most important part, mentioning Mike Singletary is key: look at the team that showed up in Candlestick Park tonight, now look back at the team that showed up in Seattle, now back to Candlestick, now back to Seattle, look, it's a horse! Whatever, the point is that they're complete opposites and judging the Niners hopes for the 2010 season based on that first game (or the first snap against the Saints ) makes about as much as a dude on a horse's body pimping men's body wash.

And the reason the two teams look different is that Singletary, for all his bonkos quotes, got his team prepared. He may have killed a rat, or shut down Yahoo!, or something, but he got his team motivated (yet again), and there's a good chance you'll see him do an increasingly good job of it as the season goes along.

As to the biggest point -- they play in the NFC West, the weakest-sauced of the weak when it comes to divisions. Arizona and Seattle are tied for first at 1-1 and those two teams just got a thankful paddling from Atlanta and Denver, respectively. Remove St. Louis from the equation and remember that at some point Matt Hasselbeck will get injured and Derek Anderson will remember he's Derek Anderson ... this is still a division that an 0-2 49ers team can take down.

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Posted on: September 20, 2010 9:05 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2010 9:20 pm

And now, the worst snap in NFL history

Posted by Will Brinson

Maybe "worst snap in NFL history" is a bit of a stretch, but for a 49ers team that so desperately needed to get off to a fast start against the Saints, giving up two points on a really, really bad snap from the shotgun formation on their opening drive probably wasn't an ideal start.

Posted on: September 17, 2010 9:43 am
Edited on: September 17, 2010 9:44 am

Mike Singletary is feeling extra grumpy

Posted by Andy Benoit

Earlier this week there was an entertaining controversy in San Francisco pertaining to miscommunication with the play-calling. In case you don’t know the story, the long and short of it, Niners head coach Mike Singletary said there were problems with Alex Smith’s headset at Seattle; Smith said everything was fine and that the plays need to come in quicker.

After this, Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports wrote that offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye is the primary source of the communication problems.

All the speculation and drama surrounding the Niners is not sitting well with head coach Mike Singletary. Take a look at the transcript of this tense television interview Singletary had with KPIX Sports Director Dennis O’Donnell. (And, good news: if you want to watch the interview, you can click here.)

Singletary: “What’s the truth? Jimmy has been in the league 33 years. He’s been a coordinator for longer than you’ve been doing this.

How does a guy be a coordinator and be successful all those years and not be good at what he does? That does not even make sense to me, the question. I don’t mean to be disrespectful but it doesn’t make any sense, the question you’re asking.”

O’Donnell: I’m basing it on what was said in the Yahoo article …

Singletary: But don’t base a man’s entire career on a dang-gum Yahoo commercial.

O’Donnell: That’s the point I’m trying to make because as I said …

Singletary: The point I’m trying to make is I don’t want to talk about the Yahoo deal. It really pisses me off now that I sit here and think about it. We just talked today and I had a press conference today. I don’t want to talk about the Yahoo thing anymore. Whoever said it, I don’t care who said it, it’s over. I want to move forward.

O’Donnell: So there’s no truth to it?

Singletary: I want to move forward.

O’Donnell: Let’s talk about Alex moving forward into Monday night. In situations where maybe he’s not getting a play by a certain amount of time, if he can see …

Singletary: Alex will be fine Monday night. Watch the game and you will see that Alex will be fine. I don’t want to talk about time. I don’t want to talk about clock. I don’t want to talk about any of that. I want to talk about New Orleans if you want to talk about that.

O’Donnell: I’m alluding to …

Singletary: I want to talk about New Orleans if you want to talk about that.

O’Donnell: OK. Let’s talk about trying to stop Drew Brees.

Singletary: We will not try to stop Drew Brees. We will stop Drew Brees. Next question.

O’Donnell: Let’s talk about trying to move the ball against the New Orleans defense …

Singletary: We will not try to move the ball against the New Orleans defense. We will move the ball and we will score.

O’Donnell: Obviously there’s a sense of frustration that’s built …

Singletary: No, there’s not a sense of frustration. I’m just being honest. I had a conversation about this early today and I came in here ready to talk about New Orleans and we get all this other. I’m just tired of talking about that. I’m ready to go. I am excited, I’m ready to go, I just finished talking to my team, I’m ready to go. We can talk about New Orleans, let’s go, but I don’t want to talk about all this other stuff.

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Posted on: September 14, 2010 8:46 pm

Oh, so THAT'S the problem with Niners' play-calls

Posted by Andy Benoit

Monday we wrote about the consternation surrounding the play-calling in San Francisco. (After the Niners burned threeJ. Raye (US Presswire) timeouts in the first half, Mike Singletary said there was a problem with Alex Smiths’ headset against Seattle; Smith basically said the coaches need to get the plays in quicker.)

Well, according to Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports, the problem could be offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye.

“It seems like Jimmy calls plays from memory a lot of the time and not exactly the way it’s written down,” a source told Cole. The source said that plays often get garbled. “(Raye) knows the plays and he knows the right thing to call, but he’s fumbling through his papers and it’s like, ‘Hey, we need to get a play called.’”

Cole writes:

Last season, Raye relayed the plays to offensive assistant Jason Michael, who relayed them to the quarterback. This worked well, somehow compensating for Raye’s communication issues. But the arrangement diminished quarterback coach Mike Johnson’s involvement in the game plan. Cole writes, “As a result, several players went to Singletary this offseason to complain about Raye and the overall situation. Singletary’s solution was to change the mechanics of how the plays were sent in. He replaced Michael, who is still on staff, with Johnson in the play-calling process. On Sunday, that became a problem because Johnson couldn’t decipher what Raye was saying during tense moments when the Seattle crowd was making noise. Singletary was seen several times yelling at Johnson on the sideline when plays didn’t get relayed in a timely fashion.”

This is miscommunication in the truest form.

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Posted on: September 13, 2010 11:31 am
Edited on: September 13, 2010 11:41 am

Niners QB, coach contradict each other in presser

Posted by Andy Benoit

Talking on Around the League last week about the Vernon Davis-Michael Crabtree quarrel in Niners practice, we made the point that Mike Singletary must avoid speaking publicly on the matter as much as possible. Singletary’s tremendous elocutionary skills have a tendency to inflate stories. Even when he’s saying nothing, the man just can’t help but say something.A. Smith (US Presswire)

Now, Singletary has an even more delicate issue to handle: Alex Smith and the clock management mystery. The sixth-year quarterback did not play well, going 26/45 with two interceptions (though both picks can be blamed on wideout Michael Crabtree). More noteworthy, however, might be what was said after the game about the three timeouts San Francisco blew in the first half.

“There were some problems with Alex’s helmet,” Singletary said. “We had a similar situation last year. When the communication can’t come in and it’s spotty on the headset and you already can’t hear, it makes it very difficult. It’s not that the plays weren’t coming in. It’s that he wasn’t getting the plays because of technical issues. It happened a few times. We had to take timeouts because of the headset. It’s very frustrating. I guess it just happens to us.”

Okay, perhaps Singletary is hinting that something fishy is going on at Qwest Field. Problem is, as Lowell Cohn of the Press Democrat points out, Singletary’s quarterback doesn’t seem to be singing that tune.

Alex Smith chalked the timeout burning up to “management issues…that we’ve got to figure out.”

Smith said, “The only time it was the headset issue, the clock rolled, they were late to spot the ball and I asked (referee) Mike (Carey) to bump the clock and he bumped it. Once the play clock runs down past 15 (seconds) your headset turns off and it never turns back on. He bumped it up to 25 and the headset never kicked back on and that was the one time, really the only time we had a headset problem.

“For whatever reason most of (the timeouts) occurred on third-and one, fourth-and-one, so yeah, whatever it is, deciding on what personnel would go in, deciding on if we would go for it, that decision has to be made. The refs aren’t waiting around to spot the ball based on what we’re going to decide to do. That clock’s rolling. You’ve got to make that decision if you’re going to go for it, then the play’s got to get called. You’ve got to have a call ready. That happens fast. It was all in key situations like that today when we had most of the problems. It’s frustrating, absolutely.”

In all likelihood, Smith wasn’t trying to refute his coach. But, that’s why it’s not always wise to be transparent in a press conference. Either directly or indirectly, Smith called out the offensive coaching staff. And it’s unfortunate for the Niners that these comments contradicted what Singletary had said just moments earlier.

Maybe this never becomes a story. But we know Singletary is great to listen to, and we know Smith willingly shares his mind. The Niners may have an issue to deal with throughout the week.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com