I keep seeing people talking about how Troy Smith doesn’t have what it takes to be a winning quarterback in the Canadian Football League. I respect a lot of these people. However, I can’t help but think all he needs is time.
I didn’t see the Montreal Alouettes 41-5 loss to the B.C. Lions on Saturday night. I was sitting in a hotel in New Jersey watching various movies. ESPN wasn’t covering the game, I didn’t have access to ESPN3 and TSN Go doesn’t work outside Canada. So I was a man without a country for all intents and purposes.
When I started seeing the score, I didn’t try very hard to find a work around. Smith’s line was as ugly as the score. 5/17 for 45 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. And it wasn’t all on Smith. His backup Tanner Marsh was 3/9 for 17 yards. Not exactly numbers to hang your hat on.
Smith has thrown 233 passes over the last two seasons. His overall numbers aren’t too bad. Also take into account he has had four offensive coaches since he signed last August. There is a learning curve.
Let’s put this into perspective. I took Smith’s statistics and prorated them over 348 attempts and compared them to another quarterback in his first season in the league. (The reason I prorated it to 348 attempts was to compare the two easier).
Player A: 154/348 (44.3%), 2582 yards, 13 TD, 15 INT, 64.4 QBR
Player B: 176/348 (50.6%), 2359 yards, 18 TD, 12 INT, 75.4 QBR
Now, Smith is Player B. Player A? Anthony Calvillo. Now, there are differences in the two of them. Smith is 30 years old, Calvillo was just coming out of Utah State and was playing his first professional football.
However, how much professional football has Smith really played? Yes, he went pro in 2007. However from 2007-2013 when he signed with the Alouettes he had thrown 234 passes over 20 games and none since 2010. Smith had barely more experience than Calvillo when it came to actual game experience. Add in the rust factor and it’s not surprising that he has struggled.
Quarterbacks are often judged wrong. They are given way too much credit when the team wins and given too much blame when the team struggles. The Alouettes are struggling right now. They are in transition with their roster, with their coaching staff and with their systems.
Smith is going to take time to adjust, but despite his age is still learning. What he is now is not necessarily what he will always be. It might not work out – he may very well just be what we’re witnessing now – but it’s too early to definitely make that determination.
It is a transition year for the Alouettes. But fortunately for them, it doesn’t look like the Toronto Argonauts, Hamilton Tiger Cats or expansion Ottawa RedBlacks are in a much better position.
They are in a position to fully evaluate Smith. It also helps that Marsh, Alex Brink and Jonathan Crompton aren’t intriguing replacements with the exception of Crompton. However, the back up quarterback is always the most popular player on a team. Just be careful what you wish for.