“You never pick up where you left off from one year to the next,’’ Bill Parcells used to say. (Maybe he still says it, for all I know.) Don’t the NFC playoff teams from last year know it. Those six teams are 6-12 this morning.
That is the 2013 season after 47 games.
I’ll take Startling Stats for $800, Alex.
San Francisco is supposed to define defense. The Niners have allowed 84 points through three weeks. New Orleans (last in team defense last year) and Indianapolis (26th last year), combined, have allowed 86 points.
The AFC East stinks, right? The AFC East is 9-3. Every team in the division is 1-0 against the NFC.
Those guys making the commercials—how are they doing? Robert Griffin III is the 20th-rated passer in football, and, scrambling in the pocket Sunday, was caught from behind by a Detroit defensive lineman. Colin Kaepernick is 25th. Right behind Bay-mate Terrelle Pryor. And 12 slots below Alex Smith.
That first London game, Pittsburgh-Minnesota in Week 4, sure seemed like a gem when it was announced five months ago. The Steelers and Vikings are a combined 0-6.
Offensive rookie of the year? This morning, it’s Chicago guard Kyle Long. The human sack machine, Jay Cutler, has been sacked three times in three games.
So you’re saying there won’t be a New Jersey vs. New Jersey Super Bowl in the New Jersey Super Bowl. Eli Manning and Geno Smith are 1-2 in the NFL in interceptions, with eight and six.
But I’m confused, Mr. Trebek. Jordan Cameron is seventh in the league with 20 receptions. Cameron Jordan is ninth in the league with 3.0 sacks.
Strange days indeed. On to the news of a particularly newsy Week 3.
The Aldon Smith Decision
Jim Harbaugh is a meteor in the coaching sky. A star. Until Sunday, when the Niners lost their second game in a row (27-7 to Indianapolis), Harbaugh hadn’t lost two games in a row in three years. He and his team will recover from the events of the weekend; they’re just too good, too talented. But the world will be watching this Aldon Smith rehab to see if Smith, and the 49ers, are seriously going to address a career-threatening problem, because there have to be legitimate questions about it after Smith played a full game Sunday.
Smith, the team’s star pass-rushing linebacker, was found in his sport truck Friday morning at 7 a.m. about a half-hour from the Niners’ facility in Santa Clara, Calif., the truck up against a tree in a yard. When the police arrived, he blew a .15 on the breathalyzer test, almost double the legal limit in California. Keep in mind, he was supposed to be at the team facility for meetings and practice within the hour, and he obviously would have been in no condition to be there. He was arrested, jailed, bailed out, and practicing with the team just after noon local time. Right after practice, Harbaugh said he assumed Smith would be playing on Sunday, and he did. Smith played all 67 of San Francisco’s defensive snaps against the Colts.
Last season, a Niners special-teams player, Demarcus Dobbs, was arrested early on a Friday morning and charged with DUI and marijuana possession. The team left him home from a trip to play St. Louis that weekend, meaning Dobbs didn’t play. But Smith is not Demarcus Dobbs. Smith is one of the best defensive players in football, and different rules apply to great players than to marginal ones.
After the game, Smith apologized, and the Niners said he would taking an indefinite leave. I reported last night on NBC’s Football Night in America that Smith would be entering an in-patient facility to deal with his problems—Smith has been arrested twice for DUI in the last 20 months, and he was stabbed at a house party in 2012, and sued from incidents at that party. “This is a problem, and it’s something that I will get fixed,’’ Smith said after the game.
Under league policy, teams cannot suspend players for substance-abuse issues. That’s up to the league and the league only. So until his case is adjudicated in a California court in November, Smith would have been allowed to play—unless the 49ers deactivated him and paid him his regular weekly 2013 compensation of $230,759 not to play.
“I think this was the best thing for Aldon,’’ said 49ers CEO Jed York. “And again, there’s no right answer here.” Maybe not—but unless this is a long, serious and intensive rehab process, the 49ers will look like users, and Smith will look like a pawn. We’ll be watching to see if Smith, and the 49ers, take this as seriously as they claimed they would Sunday night.
I would not have played Smith Sunday were it my decision. I wouldn’t have abandoned him and let him go off to get in more trouble than he already was in. He would have been with the team all weekend—at Saturday meetings, on the sideline Sunday—but there are some things that are just more important than playing in a football game. If it sends the wrong message to sit a guy and pay him $230,000, so be it. I just don’t think it’s right to let him play.
One other thing: The next big issue on Roger Goodell’s agenda—and on DeMaurice Smith’s as well—has to be tougher penalties on DUIs. This isn’t a partisan issue. It’s potentially a life-and-death one, for the drivers and the innocents in their way.