First some background. As I'm sure many of you know there's an immense amount of controversy surrounding Alex Smith, with many people labeling him a bust, and many others defending him by pointing out that he hasn't had a chance to succeed yet. I fall in the latter category and I took it on myself to do a bit of an experiment. Using my NFL Game Rewind subscription I rewatched Alex's first two games of the 2009 season analyzing every incomplete pass. What I was trying to do was separate the poorly thrown balls from the balls that were incomplete due to the horrible offensive line, drops, spikes, etc.
You can see the results here if you're so inclined. In the comments the point was made that this is meaningless unless we can compare it to other QBs in the league, so I decided to do my first comparison with Matt Schaub. When I did that a couple of comments suggested that you guys might like to see this as well, so here it is.
Keep in mind that this is not an attempt at dissecting Schaub's play--I didn't watch nearly enough games to do that. This is more about Alex Smith than it is about Matt Schaub.
Schaub was ranked 7th overall in the NFL last year. His stat line was 396/583, with a 67.9% completion percentage. He threw for 4,770 yards, 29 TDs and 15 INTs. His YPA was 8.2
I'm going to examine the same two weeks (week 7 and 8) to keep things fair.
For week 7 Schaub was 20/30 for 234 yards and 2 TDs, 0 INTs
For week 8 Schaub was 25/34 for 268 yards and 0 TDs, 2 INTs
49ers @ Houston
Scramble for 2 yards, 3 yard pass, scramble for 4 yards. Punt
Pass to Owen Daniels for 9 yards, Slaton up the middle for no gain, Slaton to the right for 6 yards, Slaton to the left for -5 yards, incomplete pass, incomplete pass
Tipped by Smith at the LOS
no one open. Had to throw it away to avoid a sack
Complete to Daniels for 30 yards, Complete for 9 yards, Slaton to left for -4 yards, complete for 12 yards, incomplete, Slaton up the middle for 1 yard, pass to Slaton for 1 yard, Slaton up the middle for 1 yard and a TD.
This was in and out of the hands of Daniels. Quick out pattern, right on the money by Schaub but Daniels couldn't keep his hands on it.
Pass to Daniels for 6 yards, incomplete to Slaton, rush for -2 yards, complete to A. Johnson for 18 yards, rush for no gain, incomplete to A. Davis, complete to D. Anderson for 2, punt.
Good protection. Smith hits him just after he releases. Ball on the money again but knocked away by Spencer.
Again good protection. Hit just after he throws. Overthrown.
Complete for 14 yards, run left for 4 yards, run up the middle for 13 yards, pass down the middle to Daniels for 42 yards and a TD.
Run left for no gain. Sack for -9 yards. run right for 7 yards
Complete for 6 yards, run for 12 yards, complete for -1 yard, incomplete, complete right for 8 yards, punt.
Schaub was flushed out of the pocket and had to throw it away to avoid a sack.
Scramble for 2 yards, Slaton off right side for 7 yards, Schaup up the middle for 2 yards, Slaton off left side for 2 yards. Fumbles
Complete down the middle for 44 yards, complete left for 4 yards, incomplete, complete to daniels for 15 yards, run for no gain, sack for -9 yards, slaton off left side for 3 yards, field goal.
Play action, Schaub rolls right has plenty of time. Overthrows his receiver.
incomplete, complete for 14 yards, run for 31 yards, run for -2 yards, run for 3 yards, incomplete pass, punt.
Protection was good, has Daniels open but underthrows.
Mark Roman comes up on a safety blitz and knocks the pass down
Adjusted stat line 15/18
Houston @ Buffallo
Scramble for 2 yards, complete to Daniels for 22, complete to Slaton for 5 yards, run for 17 yards, run for 6 yards, Interception
Run for 1 yards, complete to K.Wlater for 3 yards, incomplete to K.Walters, punt.
Decent protection. Underthrows his man on the sideline.
Incomplete, complete for 6 yards, complete for 7 to Slaton, Fumbles
Quick out pass to Andre Johnson who was coming across the middle on a slant. Overthrown.
Run for 6 yards, pass intercepted
Complete to A.Johnson for 12, run for 14 yards, incomplete to A.Johnson, scramble for 8 yards, sack for -11 yards, complete to D.Anderson for 7 yards, incomplete, FG
Johnson across the middle. This one is dificult to tell what happened, whether it was a poor throw, excellent defense, or dropped pass by Johnson.
Pressure was coming up the middle but Schaub wasn't in eminent danger. Way underthrew his receiver, almost leading to an interception
Incomplete, pass up the middle for 8 yards, pass to D.Anderson for 27 yards, pass to Moats for 20 yards, run for -1 yarsd, pass to J.Casey for 7, Pass to K.Walter for 7, Moats up the middle for 3, Moats left tackle for 8, Brown left tackle for 1 yards, Pass to Brown for -1 yard, pass to K.Walter for 9 yards, FG.
Good protection, way overthrown.
Pass for 2 yards, kneel down. Halftime
Pass for 9 yards, Incomplete to K.Walter, Pass to J.Casey for 7, moats off RT for 6, Moats up the middle for 3 yards, Brown off LG for 3 yards, Schaub to Johnson for 6 yards, Pass to Jones for 36 yards, Brown up the middle for 5 yards, scramble for 1 yard, Schaub sacked for -4 yards, FG.
Knocked down by a defensive lineman
Moats off RT for 2 yarfds, Schaub to Johnson for 18 yards, Schaub to Moats for 5 y ards, Brown off RT for 7, Brown off LG for 2, Schaub to Johnson for 6 yards, Moats off RG for 7 yards, Moats off LG for 4 yards, pass to K.Walters for 10 yards, Moats off LG for 10 yards, TD
Schaub incomplete to Johnson, Complete to Johnson for 15, Moats off RT for 4 yards, Moats up the middle for 17 yards, Moats up the middle for no gain, Moats up the middle for 1 yards, TD
Ball was tipped by a defensive lineman. Intended for Johnson
Moats off LG for 3, Moats off LT for 2, Schaub to D.Anderson for 17 yards, Moats off LG for 3, Moats off LG for 5, Walter around left end for 13, Moats off LG for 9, Borwn up the middle for 5, Moats up the middle for 6, Moats off LG for 3 yards, TD.
Kneel down, Kneel down, Kneel Down
Adjusted stat line 29/34
1. Houston's offensive line is very good. They give Schaub plenty of time and they can punch holes for the running game.
2. Slaton has fumbleitis but doesn't have the production to make the team overlook it
3. Jacoby Jones is a great punt return man
4. Alex Smith's stat line for his two games was 49/54. Schaub's stat line for his two games was 44/52. Smith actually performed better based on the adjust stat line.
5. 2009 was Schaub's 3rd year in that system. Basically he had the basics down and was really feeling comfortable. 2010 will be Smith's 2nd year in the same system. Smith has more experience so some of the stuff he should already know.
6. It's my conclusion that it's very possible (maybe even likely) that Smith has a top 10 performance in 2010, based on our offensive line upgrades and continuity in the same system.