Alex Smith knows a thing or two about having the wrong head coach in the NFL. That’s what makes his recent comments about defensive head coaches so poignant.
The former San Francisco 49ers, Kanas City Chiefs and Washington Commanders quarterback was candied in discussing the ability of defensive-minded coaches as it pertains to developing young quarterbacks. Evidently, Smith is in the camp that they’re not very good at it, and who can blame him.
“There is a different mentality,” started Smith. “From my career, when you play for an offensive head coach that wants to light up the scoreboard and outscore the opponent. “There’s a different mentality you have. Especially as a young quarterback versus a defensive head coach, when really the [coach’s] mentality is ‘Hey, don’t screw up, don’t turn the ball over, don’t put us in a bad situation.’
“That’s a huge difference in a mentality and a mindset for a young quarterback, especially if it’s a bit rocky to start.”
Before Jim Harbaugh took over the 49ers during Smith’s tenure, the former top pick was widely-regarded as a bust. Of course, he played for many defensive-minded head coaches, and went through offensive coordinators like they were on fire. So, Smith may know what he’s talking about here.
In the NFL right now, the former 49ers and Chiefs signal caller likened the situation to the New York Jets.
Alex Smith on New York Jets, Robert Saleh: ‘You have no idea how to develop a quarterback.’
The first situation that came to Smith’s mind was the New York Jets. While the franchise no longer has to worry with Aaron Rodgers in tow, who could forget former second-overall selection Zach Wilson?
Wilson has talent. That’s undeniable. You don’t go No. 2 overall without it. But Smith believes head coach Robert Saleh has set him up to fail thus far.
“Robert Saleh, you’re a great defensive mind and coordinator, but like you have no idea how to develop a quarterback,” Smith added. “The coordinator you hired never called plays. So that’s a completely different animal.
“As much as you think you’re prepared to handle that development of a young kid, you’re just not.”
Perhaps one or two seasons behind Rodgers is just what Wilson needs to jumpstart his NFL career. The Jets aren’t completely giving up on him yet, and Wilson could go the Smith route of being a late-bloomer.
Time will tell, but Alex Smith makes some salient points. Perhaps NFL teams will listen come next hiring cycle.