Ok, just a quick thought or two before opening it up to the group for your thoughts.
I can't wait to see how Anthony Smith performs in 2008. Remember, before the infamous 'guarantee', Smith was playing some very solid football in the absence of Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark. He and Tyrone Carter were asked to anchor a secondary that, despite it's problems to those of us who watched the games closely, finished the season with the #1 ranked pass defense in the league. Sorry, even if you have concerns about personnel, those numbers don't lie entirely. He was playing well.
But then, following the shellacking handed to us by the Patriots, Smith's play deteriorated. Head coach Mike Tomlin admitted as much:
It's been a learning experience for him and we move forward.
It's about how he moves forward that's going to determine what kind of professional he is.
He understands that to be quite honest with you, he's game for the challenge. He's been a bright-eyed guy in this offseason.
I know he can't wait to get out there and show people what he's capable of and help us win at the same time.
He's very correct. Smith has had both ups and downs. Perhaps some of the early success got to his head before he was quickly sent back down to earth on this play:
There should be no doubt in his mind now that he needs to be one of the hardest working guys on the team if he wants to be great in this league. Scratch that, if he wants to play in this league he'll need to work in the film room, the weight room, and with his positional coaches.
2008 will be a crossroads of sorts for Mr. Smith. I, for one, think he bounces back and contributes significantly in 2008. If Troy and Ryan stay healthy and on the field, he'll get fewer opportunities, but more than likely, he'll find himself on the field plenty, with ample opportunity to make a difference in games. He's still just a young kid. By no means should his poor play to finish the year be the final chapter in the story of his career. It's up to him though.
Am I being overly optimistic or evaluating his abilities poorly?