Memo to Ravens fans: Take it easy on Smith

December 22, 2007 |

Memo to all Ravens Fans: Take it easy on Troy Smith when he makes his first start tomorrow; chances are it will be rough.

Remember, he is playing with the same line that Boller and McNair had, and the same system and play calling they had as well. Todd Heap is out, and Demetrius Williams who knows? The offensive line looks like the rookies on the right side have hit a wall.

So please don’t kill the kid if he goes 8 for 23 with 2 interceptions. If the worst happens against a team like Seattle that has a +12 turnover margin and is second in the league in sacks, don’t proclaim him just another bum like Stoney Case or Scott Mitchell.

He is a rookie and playing in a very tough environment, and if he has for lack of a better term a Boller type road game, don’t eat him up next week on WNST airways or on the forums and in blog comments.

The important thing is that he is getting some reps, getting a chance to work for the first time in his young NFL career as a starting quarterback. There will most assuredly be growing pains if not this week, maybe next.

In a city where the last young quarterback to pan out was Bert Jones in the mid 1970′s, patience, however fleeting, must be our mantra.

For you Colts fans, remember John Elway’s start at Memorial Stadium in his rookie year for the Broncos? To put it mildly he stunk and was so bad they benched him in the second half.  After that tough first year, he improved gradually and had a Hall of Fame career. If first impressions had been lasting ones, Elway would have been benched for life after that sorry performance, branded just a wasted pick.

Same goes if the opposite happens, don’t get overly excited.

If he has a great game, 17 for 25 with 242 yards and three touchdown gem in a Ravens win, don’t proclaim him the next Johnny Unitas or Donovan McNabb either. Remember one game doesn’t make a Hall of Fame career.   Doing it week after week is the thing that separates Tom Brady and Tony Romo from Josh McCown or Drew Henson (remember him).

Enjoy watching Smith tomorrow and don’t put too much on one game. There will probably be some good plays and some negative ones as well.
If you’re looking on how to judge him, concentrate on how he handles the huddle, how his pocket presence is, where is his grasp of the offensive right now, and how he reacts to adversity when it comes. Does he look like he belongs or rather like a deer in the headlights?

This is step one for a rookie in what we hope is a long journey as the Ravens quarterback of the future. The road will have some bumps; almost all rookies QB have had them.   In fact only two in the last 25 years went unencumbered; that was Dan Marino with the Dolphins and Ben Roethlisberger with the Steelers. The Manning Brothers and McNabb, they where among those that struggled in year one. It’s part of the drill with rookie quarterbacks in the NFL.

At the very least Smith getting the start has given this game a real sense of curiosity and excitement. We want to see what the he can do. Let’s not get overly judgmental; it really won’t serve anybody’s purpose, especially Troy Smith’s.

So sit back and let’s watch. Who thought a 4-10 team would create this much buzz in game 15?

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