San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers are starting Colin Kaepernick in today’s game. Regular starter Alex Smith is being benched and not for health reasons. It also didn’t help that TE Vernon Davis was glowing about Kaepernick’s passes after their last game.
People wonder why this decision is made. Well, let’s be real here: Alex Smith was never that good anyway. Kaepernick has that “rocket arm” that so many people look for in QBs nowadays. He is also very athletic and I believe I have written about it before. Alex Smith is a savvy vet, sure. But the last time any team won with a quarterback that wasn’t a very prolific passer was in 2000. The Baltimore Ravens won that Super Bowl with their defense, not with Trent Dilfer’s arm and passing.
Kaepernick played extremely well against the Chicago Bears last week. If you know anything about football, you should know that’s an impressive defense to play against. It could’ve been beginner’s luck. We’ll find out today – the 49ers are visitng the Superdome in Louisiana. The Saints are not a good defensive team, but they do feature an explosive offense. Kaepernick should continue to start, regardless of his performance today, in my opinion. He’s the guy to keep because 1. he’s still young; 2. he’s economically friendly (salary-wise); 3. he’s a better threat than Alex Smith ever has been; 4. he is essentially the future face of the franchise; and 5. he’s got the trust of his teammates already.
The one thing I don’t like about this whole situation is how head coach Jim Harbaugh has been handling every quarterback question in his tenure thus far. When they scouted Peyton Manning, he was adamant that they were just having a few conversations and never actually wanted to pursue him. C’mon, seriously? After that, Alex Smith felt offended and had to be reassured a million times that he is “the quarterback that they wanted the whole time”. Now that Kaepernick has shown up, Harbaugh has again ditched his support for Smith. C’mon coach, that’s not cool. But again, do what you have to do. There’s a reason he’s the head coach and a bunch of critics aren’t.
Ben Roethlisberger is injured. Byron Leftwich broke ribs while replacing Roethlisberger in last weeks’ game. Third-string QB Charlie Batch is making his the start today. How that will go, nobody knows.
The Steelers have suffered many injuries this season. The injuries have affected both sides of the ball. SS Troy Polamolu has only recently returned to practice, LB James Harrison has had trouble staying healthy all season, DT Willie Colon has had back problems, OT David DeCastro went down early in the season with a nasty knee injury against the Buffalo Bills (I believe he injured both his ACL and MCL in the same knee) and WRs Antonio Brown and Jerricho Cotchery are also out. That’s quite a few impact players gone.
The Steelers are usually a playoff-guaranteed team. Even though it’s been said every year for the last three years, the Steelers are finally beginning to actually look old and slow. Then again, when they have all their key players, they look pretty good. There is some hope for a playoff appearance though: The Steelers recently signed WR Plaxico Burress to help out their struggling red zone offense. Burress makes his return to Pittsburgh and will definitely help out their offense if they can feed him the ball. But another problem is Burress’ attitude. They let him leave Pittsburgh before because of his diva attitude and I definitely feel like that attitude will show up while the Steelers are without Big Ben.
QB Jason Campbell started last week against the San Francisco 49ers and we all know how that went. Campbell, to me, is the same as Alex Smith. He’s good enough to hold a seven point lead over a team, but he’s not a prolific passer or a great decision-maker. Regular starting QB Jay Cutler was held out of the last game due to a concussion.
The Bears have always had a formidable defense, but this season, they are an awesome defense. They lead the league in turnovers and in forcing turnovers. They have a linebacking corps that is a savvy group and still features Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Nick Roach. Their secondary features CB Charles Tillman and FS Chris Conte and both help to produce turnovers and even force them. Their DL still features DEs Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije. This team has such a chemistry together, it’s awesome to watch them play.
Their offense has almost never matched their defense. That changed when the Bears traded for WR Brandon Marshall this off-season. QB Jay Cutler and Marshall have history together. Just google what they were able to do together in Denver before Cutler was shipped out and Tebow was drafted. Finally, the two have been brought back together and has instantly impacted the offensive dynamic in Chicago. Now RB Matt Forte isn’t being completely abused on offense (by abused, I mean used for every single snap and play) and can breathe all while still being productive. With Cutler out last week, Marshall had a quiet game (21 yards and 1 TD). Cutler is coming back this week and will help to keep the Bears in the playoff race. At 7-3, they should be able to keep themselves in the hunt.
Kansas City Chiefs
There’s nothing that can be said here. The Chiefs are the prime example as to why a good quarterback is so important. With a very capable offense that features lightning and thunder in RBs Jamal Charles and Peyton Hillis and big-time playmaker WR Dwayne Bowe, you should be able to score at least 21 in every game. QB Matt Cassel needs to go. QB Brady Quinn is interesting, but is no better than Cassel. The Chiefs need a quarterback.
Playing quarterback isn’t a big deal – being good at playing quarterback is a big deal. It is the most famous position in football so it obviously receives a lot of media attention when a team struggles at that position.