Alex Smith was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 2005 number one overall, 23 picks before Aaron Rodgers. Coming out of college, he had tremendous potential. He was an accurate passer (66% career at Utah) and very mobile (1072 rushing yards at Utah). He was the prototype for the next generation of quarterbacks. After being drafted, he signed a six-year $49.5 million dollar contract ($24 million guaranteed). In his first six years, he was the ultimate underachiever and didn't come anywhere near his potential.
But now, in his seventh year, he has finally reached that potential and is earning his rookie contract....that expired last year. So if your team drafted a rookie quarterback and you are down in the dumps just consider Alex Smith and the seven-year plan. However, your team must make a commitment to this plan. The plan is as follows:
First year, take your quarterback and start him five games into the season with two rookies on the offensive line, a rookie running back (Frank Gore), and the 32nd ranked defense. Invariably, your quarterback will get hurt and perform poorly. You must have a stable of at least three other quarterbacks coming in and out of games at seemingly random times. When your QB throws for only 1 TD and 11 interceptions you will know that you're on the right track.
Second year, get a brand new offensive coordinator and make your QB learn a brand new system and keep this trend going for the next six years. This will be the year that your QB begins to develop and learn how to succeed however minimal. His rating will be around 75 and he will throw for as many TDs as interceptions but will play every game that year.
Third year, get ready for some hard times. The wins will be rare and injury will plague your team and QB. He will only play a few games this year and because of a shoddy initial surgery, your QB will not only miss most of this season but the entire following season as well. You will begin to forget your QB and hope that your team has someone else in mind.
Fifth year, at this point your team will become a constant carousel of coaches including washed up Super Bowl players and so-called offensive geniuses. But this year is very important. Because of your QBs futility, your team is able to restructure his contract and ends up saving lots of cash. By this time they have been building a rather stout defense and planning for the future. Your QB is still a part of the offense but must compete for his job.
Sixth year, your QB will be given a chance to compete against a guy whom the team knows cannot succeed so the future is bright. Unfortunately, this year will not bode well for your team again. Your QB and his backup will be thrown in and out of the line up by a coach who knows he may not last to the end of the season. Your QB will be very discouraged and lack confidence. The constant losing and disappointments will only set your team up for great things in the near future.
Seventh year, here it is you've waited for it. Now that your QBs initial rookie contract is over and he is still unproven, you can sign him to a safe 1 year deal for $5 million. This is also the year where you draft a new QB. That's when your QB starts to realize things have gotten real. This is the year where you sign a coach whose had meager success in college and has never coached an NFL game. The coach and your QB become kindred spirits and by this time your team has a top notch defense and running game and the stage is set for your QB to shine.
After clinching the first round bye, your teams beats one of the most consistently successful teams in the league. What's more, your QB leads the team down the field in the final two minutes and won it, just like they drew it up.
The plan isn't too complicated. It just takes patience. You must stay committed.
Who knows how long this seven year plan has been in use and what other teams are following it. If they are, then the next few AFC/NFC Champions should look like this:
2012: Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
2013: Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
2014: Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals
2015: Chad Henne, Miami Dolphins or maybe somewhere else
2016: Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams (Jeff Fisher finally gets that yard)
Hang in there fans, it works. Just stick to the plan.