I definitely do not see the 178 yard Smith as the finished product. I definitely see the missed pass to Davis and the missed pass to Quick as opportunities missed (Quick less so, but definitely Davis). In the first half there was a third and 15 or so where we threw it for 8 yards and wound up getting 11 and punting. That, to me, wasn't the best plan of action. There was also the 2 minute drive to end the first half. I thought that was a good plan, up until the last few plays where we didn't even try to put it into the end zone and settled for the FG.
Going into the game, I was having a discussion with @Morneblade about how much this team relies on AP. Here's what he said, "Offensively, we're a very easy team to stop now. 8 in the box, and make Alex throw. You'll likely give up less than 13 points if you're D is average. Then, attack our Secondary."My reply was kinda twofold. (1) AP is a HOF running back in part because its not easy to stop him. (2) When teams stack the box to stop AP, will Smith/Doctson/Reed/Harris/Davis/Bibbs be able to move the chains? Basically teams are going to play us the same way we're playing teams. We're going to attempt to take away their best offensive weapon and challenge them to beat us otherwise.
Yesterday we kinda did that. Other teams try to take away our weapon - AP. When they do that what do we do? And this is what has me "excited" or at least more than meh on Alex. He showed that he can get things done when AP is taken out of the game.
Until yesterday it's been that we folded. And lets be real, 178 yards and 16 points isn't going to win most games. But it did win yesterday. I could probably see Smith getting even less yards than he got yesterday had AP been able to run, or if we'd have hit Bibbs more. But what we realized is that after the first quarter they were keying on AP and we weren't getting many drives. That 2 min drive saw some beautiful passes from Alex. Harris-Doctson-Doctson-Floyd-Reed, and whats not included in there was a missed pass to Floyd.
That was a drive all on Alex and the playmakers/cast-offs. And while in the grand scheme of things it only put us up 6-3, it was a reply to their game tie-ing FG earlier in the quarter, and it wound up being the game winning drive, all things considered.
We can say similar things about the only TD drive we had. They were stopping AP and so we had to continuously throw for first downs 3rd and 9, 2nd and 7, 2nd and 14 (beautiful run by Smith), 3rd and 5, TD. There was also the first drive in the third quarter where Smith hit Doctson on third and 14 and they got 13. That was a bad drive because there were so many mistakes (the early TO, the holding call on APs only good run of that drive, the other bad runs by AP, and ultimately the route/pass by Doctson and Smith). But still, this second half Smith didn't have any real noticeable mistakes
And to put this into a larger picture, I'm seeing a continuous growth from Alex Smith. I'm seeing more comfort with Doctson and Harris - both of whom caught all of their targets yesterday. We're seeing an increased completion percentage again, he's moving the pocket and when he needs to he's scrambling, and he's not making critical mistakes. And you don't have to look at Fitz yesterday just look at all the losses from yesterday:
Carolina: -2 in turnovers
Arizona: -2 in turnovers
Detroit: -3 in turnovers
Cincinatti: -2 in turnovers
Altanta: -1 in turnovers
Jacksonville: 0 in turnovers
Miami: -1 in turnovers
Jets: -2 in turnovers
Patriots: 0 in turnovers
Eagles: -1 in turnovers
Oakland: 0 in turnovers
Seattle: -1 in turnovers
Tampa: -4 in turnovers
Its not rocket science, but its also not an easy thing to do. Smith said so earlier this week when he talked about our own offense's need to get more big plays, saying "Yeah, I mean I think you'd love to… I think you look at percentages; this is across the NFL, I think historically to march it… without chunks your scoring probably goes down. I think any time you add a chunk play into a drive; your chances of scoring greatly increase. It's tough against any defense in this league to march it. I mean I think we had some great examples of that in the last few weeks. I think anytime we've gotten off schedule with a penalty, with a sack, with a negative play, those are things that are hard to overcome. I think chunk plays allow you to sometimes bypass that a little bit. All the sudden you add a chunk play and depending on where you started, all the sudden you're on the edge of field goal, you're in the red zone – you're in striking distance. That mentality definitely changes. So, you'd love to have that. They come in a lot of different ways. Like you said, sometimes you actually have to chunk it down field, sometimes they are catch and runs, sometimes it's a blocking on the second level in run plays breaking open, so, a lot of ways to get those. "
I think what separates Smith from a lot of other QBs in the league is that he can drive teams down the field on those long, slow drives and not force it and live to play another play. Sometimes we punt, sometimes we attempt a FG, but rarely do we turn it over and that's kept us in more games than we've lost.
I'll just add another statement I made about Smith to @Morneblade, "Add to that the fact that Smith hasn't been this unable to complete an NFL pass type QB, he's just been inconsistent and not making big plays. But he's been able to put some good drives together. Question is can he do it more often, especially if AP gets stopped. " That's what I was looking for Sunday and without much help from AP until the 4th quarter, I thought Smith was able to keep the offense moving enough to win the game.