Ray Ratto

Ranking Alex Smith amongst his peers

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Ranking Alex Smith amongst his peers

The matter of WGIBTU Whos Got It Better Than Us? has taken on an interesting form, when you consider the case of Alexander D. Smith, the Lazarus of quarterbacks.Given up for dead by the wishful thinking crowd, Smiths resurgence as a credible NFL quarterback has been much hailed, though mostly in that What did Jim Harbaugh do to clear up his leprous sores and make him a fully self-actualized human being? kind of way.But there is another factor here, brought home with stark force by the San Diego-Kansas City game Monday night, and that is this:The field has backed up to Smith just as much as he has risen to meet it.Many of these situations are temporary good quarterbacks having bad years, or injuries, or the curse of the howling short-arm, but lets break it down to show you what we mean:ARIZONA
Kevin Kolb has done little to revive the Cardinals, and since he was one of those quarterbacks people demanded be brought in to rid the fan base of the turbulent Smith, his struggles are particularly gratifying. According to the Alex Metric, he is dramatically worse. He may be better in the future, but the futures not ours to know, so for the moment, yes. WGIBTU? Not the Cardinals.ATLANTA
After a scruffy start, Matt Ryan is finding his stride again, but eight picks and 18 sacks have undermined his supremacy. WGIBTU? Ryan will have some better games down the stretch, while Smith is exactly as good as he can be now, so with a wince, the Falcons do.BALTIMORE
They hate Joe Flacco these days in Charm City, absolutely loathe him. And for good reason his completion percentage is under 54, his inefficiencies have gone from oh-well to oh, hell, and the comparisons to Trent Dilfer are flattering to neither man. WGIBTU? Not the Ravens.BUFFALO
Ryan Fitzpatrick just got a 59 million contract extension from Ralph Wilson. I dont know how much better that can be explained. WGIBTU? The Bills, for sure.CAROLINA
The Panthers have so little that Cam Newton stands out all the more, but the truth is on a more representative team, he would be an MVP candidate. WGIBTU? The Panthers, for sure.CHICAGO
Jay Cutler lives as well off Matt Forte as Smith does off Frank Gore, but his own stats are largely Smiths superior. That said, he hasnt made the Bears an indomitable team because theyre not so WGIBTU? Not the Bears.CINCINNATI
Andy Daltons red hair made Carson palmers expendable well, that and the draft choices from Oakland but he relies of safety-first passes as much as Smith does, and the Bengals are still not fully believable. WGIBTU? Not the Bengals.CLEVELAND
The Browns have been to the Bay Area twice in three weeks. Weve all seen Colt McCoy working with no discernible players. WGIBTU? Not the Browns, and not by a long shot.DALLAS
Tony Romo is embracing his new role as NFL tease, and all of his numbers save the interceptions are better than Smiths. But he is also considered the guy the Cowboys have until they get someone good, so this is a tough one. WGIBTU? The Cowboys, though too often that seems not to be true.DENVER
Do we really need to bother here? Quite possibly the worst situation in the league, not only because Tim Tebow is still too raw and inefficient, but because his rally over Miami probably took the Broncos out of the Andy Luck sweepstakes. WGUIBTU? Definitely not these guys.DETROIT
Matthew Stafford when upright is a damned sight better than most. Matthews Stafford on one leg and without a running game to protect him, not so much. Until he gets better, WGIBTU does not include the Lions, but that will change the moment his leg gets better.
GREEN BAY
Please.HOUSTON
Matt Schaub is simply better, and you cant argue it even with Houstons odd collection of results. WGIBTU? Definitely the Texans.INDIANAPOLIS
Peyton Manning begat Curtis Painter who may beget Andrew Luck. Until that moment, though, WGIBTU? Not the Colts.JACKSONVILLE
Blaine Gabbert is injured, but even at 100 percent, the Jaguars so much come out on the short end of WGIBTU it isnt worth serious analysis.KANSAS CITY
Matt Cassel looked pretty brutal last night, and his team won. In fact, his team has won four in a row to move into a tie for first in the AFC West. All that said, Matt Cassel. WGIBTU? Not the Chiefs.MIAMI
Horrifying. WGIBTU doesnt have the words to show how much not the Dolphins it is.MINNESOTA
Donovan McNabb is now Christian Ponder. Another win for WGIBTU.NEW ENGLAND
Sorry, no.NEW ORLEANS
No again.NEW YORK GIANTS
Eli Manning is having an exemplary year in an up-and-down career. This could change, but the Giants win WGIBTU pretty handily here.NEW YORK JETS
Mark Sanchez is more maddening than soothing, which makes him A.D. Smith 1.0. WGIBTU? Not the Jets.OAKLAND
Not even discussable at this point. WGIBTU? Not the Raiders.PHILADELPHIA
Michael Vick is catching hell, but not nearly as much hell as Andy Reid, which means that the fans are okay with him, and his numbers are indisputably better. WGIBTU? The Eagles, eventually.PITTSBURGH
After a feh start, Ben Roethlisberger is quietly but demonstrably having a big year. WGIBTU? The Steelers, and Mike Tomlin could absolutely pull Jim Harbaughs arm off in a handshake.SAINT LOUIS
A.J. Feeley has taken Sam Bradfords job while Bradfords ankle cant do its job, on a team with only Steven Jackson. Need we say more? WGIBTU? Not the Rams.SAN DIEGO
Whatever magic Philip Rivers had, he aint got no more. A snap? He fumbled a snap with the game in the bag? Right now, WGIBTU has it for the 49ers, though Id make a straight-up- trade right now and feel very good about it.SEATTLE
Tarvaris Jackson or Charlie Whitehurst. Move on, citizens. Nothing to see here.TAMPA BAY
Its hard to put the 48-3 loss out of our heads, and Josh Freeman has thrown more picks than scores. That is not a statistic the local fella need concern himself with right now. WGIBTU? Not the Bucs.TENNESSEE
Matt Hasselbecks numbers are comparable, but the Titans win when they defend, not when they attack. WGIBTU? Not the Titans.WASHINGTON
Rex Grossman? John Beck? I think I just threw up on my shoe. WGIBTU? Definitely not the Redskins.In short, Alex Smith, whom you all knew was the worst quarterback ever, is having a better time right now than 20 other starters, easily his best placement against his peers since he began his career. So whos got it better than them? A lot fewer than there used to be.

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

You don’t think you needed this game to go this way, but you did, and you do.

The Golden State Warriors spat out a 17-point lead and lost, 92-88, in Boston Thursday night, in a game that was taut if not particularly elegant, and in a game that elevated the Celtics to a place that makes them the new heir apparent to the heir apparent.

The Celtics have been a difficult out for the Warriors during the Brad Stevens Era, losing six of nine but only being blown out twice, and Thursday was not one of those nights. The box score will tell you the shooting and rebounding problems, but the Warriors had that lead and didn’t hold it. Or, to be accurate, the Celtics had that deficit and refused to let it destroy them.

Which is exactly the kind of team you, the fully licensed Warrior fan, want to watch play your team in the NBA Finals. You want to see them genuinely challenged, forced to win outside their comfort zone, induced to show their greatness in the highest of high leverage situations.

At least we think that’s what you want. Maybe you prefer blowouts so you can drink and go to the bathroom without care or fear. After all, the Warriors have taught the area the true meaning of front-running by being in front so often.

But the Celtics play a level of defense typically reserved for the San Antonio Spurs, and yes, the Warriors. They have a spiky exoskeleton that the acquisition of Kyrie Irving has actually enhanced, and Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum give them a gifted precocity that fits well with veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Morris, and Boston’s overall youth (they are fifth youngest, while Golden State is third-oldest) ought to make them a more difficult conundrum than Cleveland or any other team in either conference.

They are not yet the superior team; that remains to be proven, and betting against the Warriors requires a level of irrational bravery left only for the truly self-destructive.

But they are, as we sit this evening, the team the Warriors will have to work hardest to finish, because on a night when they had the chance to do so, they didn’t. In other words, the fight for a third ring still goes through Oakland, but it looks more and more like a one-stop through Boston.

And as much as you may hate thinking about it, you’ll almost certainly remember, and savor, a Celtics-Warriors final more than another round of Cavs-on-the-half-shell.

Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor

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AP

Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor

Programming note: Warriors-Celtics coverage starts today at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live right here 

Draymond Green spoke to a group of students at Harvard Thursday on the subject of leadership, and if you find that incongruous, shame on you.
 
I mean, who else would you want as a college professor?
 
Green has led, and been led. He has learned, and he has taught. He has certainly lectured, as any teammate, official and media member will testify. He’d be a hell of a teacher, and the subject almost doesn’t matter.
 
For one, homework would be different, as in I’d bet there would be no written work. I don’t see Prof. Day-Day poring over essays about the Industrial Revolution, M-theory or pre-Raphaelite art. Not even the history of Basketball-Reference.com.

For two, having tenured faculty audit his classes may find his choice of rhetoric a little strident, as in “What the ---- were you thinking, dude?” is not typically approved instructional methodology.
 
And three, nobody would get a grade. Green would mark every exam with a “35,” as in his draft position, and besides, the exams would be students arguing with each other over whether that was a foul or a no-call, and who pulled the better face when the call was made. He’d give either an approving nod or give the loser a second technical foul and kick him or her out of class.
 
But it would be a hell of a class. Not at Harvard, of course, because Green probably would want to teach a school that could better use his brand of wisdom, and Harvard kids already have a healthy lead off third base. He’d want his students to make Harvard students cry, you can just tell.
 
But wouldn’t he look perfectly Draymond in a cap and gown on graduation day, pulling a bottle out of his sleeve to make the valedictory speeches less painful. “Damn, dude,” you could hear him yell. “Peaking?”