National Sports

WEEK 2 – Locals in NFL

Barry Schwartz

Week 2 of our Locals in the NFL started Thursday with former Ute Alex Smith stoking critics by throwing a pair interceptions AND adding to his own personal purgatory by going through another game WITHOUT throwing a touchdown pass to a wide receiver.

In case you lost count, Alex and his Chiefs have now gone 21 games and counting without throwing a TD pass to a wide receiver.

The first player taken in the NFL’s 2005 draft hasn’t thrown a TD pass to a wideout since the “…twelfth day before Christmas”…(Dec. 13, 2013)

It’s really a crazy stat that depicts the troubles Alex has had getting the football down the field, those so called “chunk plays” that ease the burden on offenses and stretch the defense, opening up lanes in the run game  etc.  “Game Manager” is the term many use to describe Alex’s skill-set but it’s also a term no QB wants to own.

Call Smith what you want but during his 11 year career to date Alex has set records, showed remarkable toughness and walked the walk of the unquestioned leader of his team.

Alex was 21-1 as a starting QB for the University of Utah.  After the Niners took the California native with the first pick in the 2005 draft, leadership was among his most obvious qualities.  Smith finished his second season (2006) as the only Niners QB (a list that includes Joe Montana,  Steve Young, John Brodie, etc)  to take every snap to from center in a season.  That is indeed remarkable since Smith’s early seasons with the Niners were limited by shoulder issues and surgeries.

He’s also most likely set a record the franchise hopes never is broken.  Alex Smith worked with 7 different Offensive Coordinators in his first 7 seasons.  Another word that’s become synonymous with Smith is, Winning!   Alex is closing in on 100 wins over his career and he’s led 2 teams to Western Division Titles.

Father Time though,  is a relentless rusher.  While KC’s big chief Andy Reid is “all in” with Alex Smith, this team must keep winning.  KC should be 2-0 but Jamaal Charles early and late fumbles, gift-wrapped Denver’s 5th straight win over the Chiefs since Alex and Andy got together.   Smith’s in his 11th NFL season, 3rd with the Chiefs.  Tight End Travis Kelce is extremely talented,  KC brought in deep threat Jeremy Maclin to help Smith out.  Charles’ history is that he rarely fumbles so we’ll chalk up the Thursday night debacle as a one-night anomoly. The Chiefs defense will be solid and better when another former #Ute Sean Smith returns from his 3-game NFL suspension.  That 3rd one’s a killer, at Green Bay Monday, then quick turn-around at Cincy, the pessimist says the Chiefs could be 1-3 .

Back to my “LINFL” rundown.

The two-time defending NFC Champion Seahawks in a rough spot. 0-2 now after losing a heartbreaker at Lambeau.

The NFC Championship Rematch goes to the Packers this time 27-17 as Seattle’s comeback attempt (just as it did in the Super Bowl!)  ends with  Russell Wilson getting picked off.  Bright spot is a local lazer beam! Former Agie Bobby Wagner once again leading the Seahawks hitter with 12 tackles.

Expect Bobby and his mates to feel better soon. Seahawks home for 3 of their next 4, starting with Chicago Sunday. “Two games,” Wagner said. “We have 14 more games left. We’ve always had a point in time where we’ve had something happen and people have doubted us, and we’ve overcome that doubt, so we’re used to this. We’re used to people doubting us, and we’re used to proving people wrong.”

Lions are deep in a den of their own doing…which means 0-2.  Former Cougar Ziggy Ansah did what he does with a sack and 7 tackles.  Fellow former Cougar Kyle Van Noy working himself back into a regular rotation on the field had a tackle, former All-Pro with the Ravens and Highland High star Hiloti Ngata’s still finding his way, in on 1 tackle but his sheer size and strength helps out his Lions teammates.  Just not enough Sunday as the Vikings took care of business 26-16.  Vikings didn’t need much from former Ute Matt Asiata and they didn’t get much either.  2 carries, 8 yards.  Minnesota’s 1-1

You’d think with Arizona piling up 48 on the Bears in Chicago that Cardinals running back and former Aggie Kerwynn Williams would’ve gotten some of his own but no sir! Williams had just 3 yards on a carry, oh and Kerwynn added a special teams tackle too.  The NFC North is a joke.  Packers already have a 2 game lead on Detroit and Chicago, a game up on the Vikings!

How about former Seahawks Def Coordinator Dan Quinn’s work with the Falcons?  The rookie head coach has Atlanta 2-0 after Sunday’s 24-20 come from behind win at the Meadowlands. Former Ute Paul Soliai showing huge for his new team.  He came to Atlanta from Miami, signing a 5 year deal with $14 million guaranteed.  Sunday Soliai continued to pay dividends, recovering an Eli Manning fumble that started a two TD push by the Falcons in the 4th quarter.  Atlanta’s one of just 5 unbeatens in the NFC.

The Pride of West Jordan and Copper Hills High Sealver Siliga continues to roll along with the Super Bowl Champion Patriots.  The former Utes Co-Captain helped jam up and generally stuff Buffalo’s offensive ideas all day as his Patriots held off a late Bills rally 40-32.  Sealver had a tackle, same total Tom Brady had as he ran down a Bills defender trying to advance a fumble recovery.  A good time had by all…the Patriots anyway.

Former Ute Mr. Everything continues to silently play out the final year of his contract with the Chargers.  Eric Weddle, once again right at the top of San Diego’s tackling numbers.  Weddle finished in a tie with MLB Manti T’eo, each piling up 10 tackles but former TCU star Andy Dalton lit up the Chargers for 3 TDs and  “Bingo, Bango, Bango!” Bengals 2-0 and alone atop the AFC North, Cincy one of only 4 unbeatens left in the AFC ( Patriots, Broncos, Bengals, Jets 1-0 but will be 1-1 after a visit to Indy Monday night.

Former Utes Paul Kruger and Nate Orchard working with a Browns D that’s working it well. Kruger picked up a half a sack Sunday, as Cleveland slowed down Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota and the Titans.  How about “Johnny Football”? 8-15 172 yards, 2 TDs no picks. Both teams 1-1.

Looks like former Ute superstar Steve Smith, Sr is going to need a lot more heroics if he’s going help his Ravens rebound.  Smith ran wild in Oakland, catching 10 passes for 150 yards but not touchdowns. The Raiders laughed last as Derek Carr fired up the Ravens suddenly suspect D for 351 yards, 3 TDs, just 1 pick.  Former Ute Keith McGill is part of the Raiders DB corps, a regular along the last line of defense for Head Coach Jack Del Rio. McGill is one of a growing handful of Utes running in various DB spots around the league.

A true testament to the incredible work done by Kyle Whittingham and position coach Shareef Shah

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