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Nolan Losing Grip - By Bryan Hersh Oct 25 2007

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Alex Smith is back, but is that a reason for optimism? I had the privilege and misfortune of attending last weeks game in New York, and really I do not see how the return of the teamÕs starting QB can be the answer to the teams problem. Yes, Trent Dilfer is horrible. He could be the worst QB this of the NCAA, and Yes DilferÕs 3 fumbles and 2 interceptions were a big part of the teams loss. But the team problems run much deeper than quarterback. Not since Dennis Erickson coached this team have I been so disgusted with their performance.

Mistakes, and lots of them highlighted last week. Execution mistakes, play calling mistakes, and something even deeper. These problems I believe are merely symptoms of a much bigger problem - one the coaching staff will not admit. For the first time since Mike Nolan has taken the reigns of the club, he has given us true reason to doubt his actions. Why? Because this team, with or without Alex Smith, is not prepared on game day, they donÕt trust in each other, they donÕt trust in the game plan, and they are not executing even as well as they did last year. The sheer lack of progress is the sign of one thing, the coach losing control of the team.

This week, against the Saints, could be NolanÕs last chance to reclaim the faith and control of the team. Nolan needs to bring the group together, he needs to get them to trust in themselves, each other, and his staff; and he needs to do it in a very short period. Having Alex Smith back in the line-up gives Nolan a fighting chance. Although SmithÕs performance has been lack luster so far, he is at least capable of making the throws needed in the NFL. He also has command over the team. If Nolan is smart, he will leverage this command, and find a way to get his team to get behind Smith.

There are improvements that can be made all over the field, but more than anything at this point, Nolan has to show he has control over the club. He needs to show that progress continues to be and he needs to find a way to keep progress happening. This team can tolerate losing - we have seen that in the past few years, but it cannot tolerate splitting from within as it did with Erickson, and as it appears to be doing now.

This Sunday, we will see what Nolan has done to restore the team to respectability. The expectations have been high for a while, but to avoid a let down, all Nolan has to do is make sure that the team is prepared, ready, and trusting of each other. Execution will follow. That, and of course, keep Dilfer off the field.

 
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