I feel that Mike Smith sees the preseason a little differently than other coaches. If you watch Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines, it is very obvious that he is playing to win. Even in the preseason, he is going to win or he is going to try real hard to. Mike Smith on the other hand, doesn’t really care about the score at the end of the game. How Smith sees the preseason is a live action dress-rehearsal. The backups and starters that haven’t quite proved themselves are going to play as hard as possible against other guys that are trying pretty damn hard as well. There is not playing soft and everyone is full speed. There isn’t many opportunities to go that speed and have free plays to just test out.
Smith, like any coach, is not going to throw the entire play book on the field during games that don’t count. But he is trying to find who on his team can really get out there. I remember a 3rd and two in the first game in Atlanta where they ran Steven Jackson up the middle for no gain. It stalled the drive and they kicked a field goal instead. Now you know the Falcons and I know the Falcons. Running it up the gut is something they do on 3rd and 1, or 2nd and 2 or other situations. But the running game has never been as sure as Matt Ryan’s arm. If it’s third and short and not a single yard away, Matt Ryan will throw to Roddy, Tony, or try to catch the defense off guard with a deeper pass to Julio. Smith was only trying to see if Jackson could get a first down form two or more yards out by directly attacking one of the best defensive lines in the league. He’s good, but he’s not that good.
We saw a similar situation against the Titans where it was 3rd and short and the go to guy was apparently Harry Douglas. He almost never goes to Harry Douglas. Ryan went to Douglas a lot of times on several drives as well.
This doesn’t seem to be a formula for victory from what I’ve seen in the past. What it does look like, however, is Mike Smith and Matt Ryan testing their third receiver to see if he can be another legitimate weapon. If so, a five way attack via Roddy, Julio, Tony, Harry, and Steven would be just about impossible to beat. Even if you were able to score thirty points against the defense, there is no way to cover that many options and still pressure the quarterback.
You can’t have it all and it’s apparent that Harry Douglas is, in fact, not a guy that can hang with the rest of the receivers on this team. Smith was probably calling vanilla plays to see if Douglas could take on the defenders as a top receivers. He can’t. But it’s worth a try and that’s what Mike Smith does in the preseason. He tries stuff. He doesn’t play to win every game like Harbaugh (which is not a bad thing.) Smith wants to get as much film and identify every strength and weakness he has.
That doesn’t explain the lack of production from Lamar Holmes, but is just a thought of leaving big points on the field. I said it once and I’ll say it again. It’s only preseason, the only thing you have to worry about is if Lamar Holmes is going to stand out or roll over. We’ll find out.