Alex Smith has interesting take on rookie quarterbacks starting immediately
Fans have been clamoring to see more of Justin Fields and Trey Lance, but a quarterback who has been in their shoes cautions that it might not be a good idea for a rookie’s long-term development.
Alex Smith was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, and ended up starting seven games in his rookie season. Smith said on ESPN’s “Monday Night Countdown” that, in retrospect, those seven starts likely hurt him more than they helped him.
It's interesting listening to Alex Smith on ESPN now on playing early, "I really felt like it set me back. … My first start, it was a disaster, I had no business being out there." Adds he saw benefits Kaepernick and Mahomes got from sitting.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 27, 2021
Smith went just 9-of-23 in his first NFL start, throwing four interceptions in a 28-3 loss to Indianapolis. He ended up going 2-5 as a starter, throwing 11 interceptions compared to just one touchdown. The touchdown didn’t even come until Week 17.
Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers both became superstars after sitting for their rookie seasons. On the other hand, the likes of Peyton Manning took their lumps as a rookie and came through it in the long-term. In many cases, much will depend on the quarterback’s mental strength, how they’re being coached, and the environment they’re working in.
Bears fans have wanted to see Fields since the preseason, but he struggled mightily when pressed into action as a starter Sunday. Fans might do well to take note of Smith’s cautionary tale. He’s certainly lived it, and it might be better long-term if guys like Fields and Lance get the chance to take things slowly.
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