From the FanPosts -Joel
It's a more-technical way of saying "sour grapes."
To start off with, I am one of about half of the AP folks that think the Alex Smith trade was bad for whatever reason. Pragmatically, though, I accept that this trade will likely happen and Alex Smith has a high probability of being the opening day starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs come the regular season. So, rather than keep throwing out sarcastic comments and blasting this move like I have been, I am going to try to talk myself into liking this by denying what I regard as rational skepticism. Here is why I think those grapes are really sour:
The "Inflated stats" argument: Admittedly, Smith seemed to turn into a much better quarterback when Harbaugh took over in San Fransisco than he was for most of his career before. So I pose the question, were Smith able to perform at the same level in KC as he did in SF, would that be enough to substantially turn this team around. Given most of our games were lost last year because of abysmal turnover differentials, and Smith's relatively-low turnover rate in '11 and '12 (10 picks, 4 fumbles lost in 26 games) It is reasonable to conclude that even if he did not otherwise substantially improve our offensive performance, we would have been a more competitive team last year. But, given all the turnovers we had in our opponents territory last season, along with other metrics of Smith's performance the past two years, it's reasonable to conclude that our offensive performance would also have improved had we had Smith, performing as he does in SF, on our team last year.
So, the question becomes, can Smith actually perform in Kansas City as he has in 'Frisco? I think it's possible. Example: Jeff Garcia. A system quarterback in 'Frisco's offense, Garcia looked like a good NFL quarterback. Once he left, he looked like a bad NFL quarterback. Then he goes to Philly and Andy Reid's offense. Voilá. Good NFL quarterback again. Then he goes to Tampa Bay, under coach John Gruden, and still puts up decent numbers with few turnovers. Coaching matters, particularly for players who could either be really good or really bad. Even for great players, coaching matters. What's the answer: Who was responsible for the ascendant 49ers offense in the '80s, Joe Montana or Bill Walsh? Obviously, the answer is both.
The "In Reid/Pioli/Crennel/whomever we trust" argument: For some long-time KC fans, particularly the ones who have been on AP since before the start of the Pioli administration, there is a keen awareness of mistakes the front office made and a lot of hind-sight bias. From these folks, there is an antipathy toward those who seem to be putting blind faith in the new leadership despite what appears to be history repeating. A big lynchpin in the argument, is Reid's recent poor performances in Philadelphia despite having what most had considered a well-stacked roster. To that, I pose a few questions: Is Jon Fox a good coach? Was John Gruden a good coach? Marty Schottenheimer? Tom Coughlin? The point is, even good coaches go through dry spells. Even good coaches get fired. Tom Coughlin was on the verge of getting fired in 2006 until his team won the Super Bowl. They were still talking about firing him a few seasons later when his team missed the playoffs two seasons in a row... right before they won another Superbowl. In a game of inches, sometimes even good coaches come out on the short end of the stick. It doesn't make them bad coaches. Just human ones. Bill Belichick, on the other hand is not human. He is actually a Cyberdyne systems model 101 endoskeleton surrounded by living tissue from a Vulcan. His ears and eyebrows have been cosmetically altered to allow for better infiltration.
Jim Harbaugh is not the only coach good enough to help Alex Smith play at an acceptable level. Andy Reid is a good coach, too. Smith may not put up the most blistering passing stats. He may not go for 300 yards every, or even any game. But maybe, just maybe, he can remember Eric Weddle isn't on his team.
The "tired of retreads" (aka the "Matt Cassel 2.0") argument: I admit, this one is the hardest one for me to talk myself out of. I didn't necessarily want Geno Smith. I wanted our quarterback. One that is the face of our franchise. One that is the best we could find in the draft, so that no other team had a claim to him. It just so happened that the best money was on Geno Smith to be that in this draft. I would have been fine with Tyler Wilson, EJ Manuel, even (gulp) Matt Barkley. He'd still be our quarterback. The first one we could really claim was ours in a really long time. Plus all the statistics say that your chances are so much better at getting to the Super Bowl with a quarterback who started his career with your team. At the same time, statistics are a metric of what has happened, not a record of what will happen. Geno Smith was not rated a once in a generation player for a reason. There was a glimpse of why in his interview with the 'Mooch. No, I couldn't remember the name "Brown left, z right, sprint right g, u corner, halfback flat," either. But what I did remember was the pulling guard and the primary, secondary, and tertiary targets of the play, and I only got the time-compressed version of the instructions. Geno got the whole thing, and didn't remember that Jerry Rice was the third target or that his guard was supposed to pull. For a guy who works as hard as he does to be football-smart and not remember some fundamental parts of the play puzzled me. And then it occurs to me the rumors of this trade being a done deal didn't happen until after Reid and Dorsey had seen the results of the combine. Would Geno be the better Smith for Reid's offense? We may never know, but if Geno doesn't end up in KC this draft, what is safe to say is that Reid didn't think he would be.
So if this is how it will be this season, either somebody pulls a Russel Wilson, or Alex Smith will be our quarterback; for better or worse. And he is not Matt Cassel. Past statistical performance or no, they are not the same guy. They may have had some similar results in some similar circumstances, but that doesn't mean they are the same. But even if they were, do you think if Weis had stayed we would be having the controversy we are having now? Smith may not have a high-ceiling, but at the very least he has touched it before and may again. If he is able to maintain that, we might have a very competitive football team in Kansas City.
Summation: So I've tried to talk myself out of how bad this seems so far. Do you think I was successful? Yeah, me neither. Truth is I am still afraid of what this season will look like, because of what last season looked like. But I was really surprised last season... in the worst of ways. Maybe I will be surprised again for a better reason. If I am wrong, and Smith turns out to be the return of Len Dawson, I have my turkey dish ready for all the crow, and I will race everyone to the first in line to say how wrong I was.