ESPN NFL Playoff Conference Call Transcript – Steve Young
ESPN hosted a media conference call this afternoon with studio analyst and Hall of Fame San Francisco 49ers quarterback and three-time Super Bowl champion Steve Young to preview this weekend’s NFL Conference Championship games. Below is a transcript of the call.
Note: This weekend’s three-hour Sunday NFL Countdown (Sunday, Jan. 22, 12 p.m. ET on ESPN) will include Young’s sit-down interview with 49ers quarterback Alex Smith.
Q. The Championship Game against the Giants in 1991, I believe the 1990 season when they knocked you out in the fourth quarter, can you give recollections of that game and finishing that game and if you were looking ahead, thinking you might be the quarterback in the Super Bowl?
STEVE YOUNG: Yeah, that was quite a day. That was our threepeat effort. We were a really good team. By then, my gosh, we had ‑‑ I'm not sure how many people ‑‑ I can't remember whether Pittsburgh could have threepeated but it's very rarified air. So the game was big. It was at home. And it was tough.
The Giants always played us, Bill Belichick's coached defenses always felt like they knew what was coming, you know, so it was tough to play them. And they were great that day. I don't think we kicked a field goal. They kicked a few field goals; and back and forth; and then Joe got hit late in the game, came out and my memory is we had a lead and we were kind of protected and we fumbled the football going in with really the game kind of handled. It wasn't done but it was in good shape. Then they moved it down and kicked another field goal and I think I want to say they won 15‑13. We had two field goals and a touchdown and they had five field goals. So lose, for us, to lose to a team kicking five field goals was like ‑‑ that was an extra slap in the face. It was like, it was the Giants, No. 1. No. 2, it was our three-peat. No. 3, we fumbled with it kind of in our hands. And we got beat by five field goals. It was rough to say the least.
Q. Does your mind wander at all at those points?
STEVE YOUNG: Yeah, I look back, and that was a Super Bowl amongst many ‑‑ I'm trying to think of the number of championship games that we were in and that I was in, and I honestly lose track. It was like, have I been in four or five? Was it before I got there in '87, had they been in three or four? I don't mean to be flippant at all. I'm literally not sure how many championship games ‑‑ I know how many we won, that's easy, but how many we lost, they are bitter. '92 is probably pretty bitter, as well. But that was a really tough one.
So, yeah, my mind wandered, like even at that time, like, I could have played in the Super Bowl, you know and was really excited about it. I didn't think ahead too much, but certainly it was right ‑‑ you're not foolish. You know exactly what is at stake.
Q. Back in the day you had a pretty nice receiving trio on the outside and inside with Jerry, T.O. and JJ. Can you discuss what you like best about the Giants threesome at wide receiver and how they seem to be so in sync with Eli Manning?
STEVE YOUNG: Earlier in the season, we saw the Giants on Monday night, and I just was not ‑‑ you could just feel that they were going through a little bit of a ‑‑ they were injured; they were not playing great. They seemed like a team that was destined to be kind of the in middle of the pack. My comment at that point was, if there are going to be more than that, somebody's jersey that is not even known at this point, or even people are aware of in the crowd at Giants Stadium, they will be wearing ‑‑ to be further along, someone new is going to have to establish themselves.
So I do see some Cruz jerseys that have popped up. I feel like there's ‑‑ you've seen it all over the league and the lockout exacerbates what is already a problem in free agency. And the teams that handled this the best are generally the most successful over time. There is this new ebb and flow in NFL seasons that you used to be able to tell the really good teams right away. You still do have a sense of it, but there's also teams that just handled the lockout better. I mean, look at the 49ers. They had a new offense and new coach and didn't even see each other until four weeks before they played. That's handling it better, right? Somehow you just do that.
So the Giants just needed the extra time and they were a veteran team that shouldn't have, but they haven't, and Victor was one piece of the puzzle. They were up‑and‑down and I saw them in New Orleans on Monday night thinking, again, I know they have played some good football, but this is not a team that's got it put together. I think just in the last month, like it happens in the NFL, like it happens all the time now in the last 10 years, some teams get hot because they just need the time. They need to work out their problems on the field, not in preseason, not in June, but on the field. So the Giants just have done that.
And now, if you just take ‑‑ and I like to, in the playoff, I like to take a body of work in the last month. I just don't care what happened in September because I don't think it's really relevant.
And so what they have done the last month is Eli Manning is making throws and decisions and reading full field in places in the red zone and throwing balls in the end zone that I thought, there's one throw, I think the last touchdown in Atlanta, I think it was Mario that caught it, but you've got to be kidding me. I mean, it was just one of those great plays that only great quarterbacks make.
They are unafraid. Just, you can tell ‑‑ I don't care about going into Green Bay. They have a real problem here in that they have another, you know, three‑hour flight past Green Bay to do it, and that's a problem and you guys know that. It's a problem to fly to Green Bay, go back, fly to San Francisco, and play. So that's an issue. But boy, these guys are unafraid and they are playing well and they are very confident. This is a long answer, I apologize, but given the context, in the last month, the combinations you can say now, the Giants have a receiving core and quarterback that liken ‑‑ in the last month, liken themselves to what's happening in New England and what's happening in Green Bay and what's happening in New Orleans, that's a pretty big statement.
Q. The four quarterbacks this weekend, three are fourth‑rounders and Tom Brady is not one of them, of course. The other three guys have all had to go through the ringer a little bit, go through this trial period before they were given credit and then guys like Joe (Flacco) and Alex (Smith) are still fighting for that credit. I guess thinking of the Andrew Lucks and Robert Griffins of tomorrow, how much scrutiny do first‑round picks face, and in your mind is it a fair amount that they get?
STEVE YOUNG: Fair? I can't even answer what's fair, because I think it's relative. To me fair is not relevant. It is kind of what it is, and what it is, is that it's the biggest sport in the world, in America for sure, and it's the premiere position in any sport. The first round and the way the draft is now analyzed and scrutinized and watched, it's just set up for incredible amounts of white‑hot light.
So to me, it is, what it is. And these guys are built for it now. They have seen it. They have watched it through the years. They have seen their heroes play. They have seen how they handled it. They have watched closely and they have a plan for themselves. They wouldn't have got to this place ‑‑ and I think they see success early now. It used to be you didn't see ‑‑ Dan Marino was the exception, Ben Roethlisberger you could kind of say was an exception. But now you have exceptions all over the place, especially this year, and the way the league is now with throwing and openings, the people ‑‑ guys are open like in college sometimes when I'm watching. It's interesting to see that. So there's just a lot of open receivers and it's helping a lot of young quarterbacks.
So I just think that there's a lot more heat and more attention and more scrutiny, but there's also more opportunity, and I don't know if the degree of difficulty on the field has maybe lessened a little bit, I shouldn't say that, but it's not more and they are answering it. I think these young guys, Robert Griffin and Andrew, I think Andrew Luck is saying, I'll go to Indianapolis, but I don't want to sit, and I especially don't want to sit now in this league. I want to play. They could care less about the scrutiny. They want to play football right away.
Q. Do you think that scrutiny has made Alex Smith tougher? Has it made Joe Flacco tougher at all?
STEVE YOUNG: Yeah, you have to. You have to have thick skin. I saw Alex yesterday. The guy has been through hell as far as quarterbacking. He's been through quarterbacking hell where you ‑‑ different coordinator, different language. He was trying to describe like learning French and then learning Spanish and learning Japanese and just learning every weird, new language and having to be held accountable without the support.
And this year, all of a sudden, he gets all of the support and he feels like, geez, I feel like I'm doing less. I feel like it's easier. But yet, now he's doing remarkable things and that's what happens when you get the system put in place where it's a quarterback‑centric system, not coddled, but quarterback‑centric. That's where I think Joe suffers and the Ravens suffered and have suffered for a long time inadvertently from a dominant defense, dominant defensive personalities, who for 10 years have said, either outwardly or inwardly, or kind of without realizing what they really mean is: Don't‑screw‑it‑up offense; don't screw it up. So the offensive coordinator calls plays not to screw it up. The players play not to screw it up. I think Joe, you look at the guys they have on that team, that team should be more explosive. That team is not the sum of its parts. Now, how do you look at it? I think it comes from the fact that they don't have a quarterback‑centric or offense‑centric mentality in their enterprise. I briefly talked to the owner before the game in Jacksonville and we talked about this subject, and he felt like he had solved that, and I think that it's in a process, but I think you can see by the product, it's not solved.
I think Joe, he's tough, he's getting tougher. You can see when he does interviews, he has that veteran glide. He's gone through the wars, so he gets it. But I don't think he gets – personally, I don't think he gets the support from a systemic point of view just because of the nature of who the Ravens are. It's no one's fault. I think the Jets suffer from the same problem.
Q. It seems like throughout the season, the 49ers will throw one or two plays in there that seem really creative and unpredictable and wondering through your eyes how creative and unpredictable have they been on offense?
STEVE YOUNG: I think they needed to. You can tell that Jim has been very efficient. He's preached it and knows that he's got a great team. Very evident, too, very early in the season he has a great defense and just my point, we are not going to screw it up. So I think they were very efficient about it. But also, finding places ‑‑ and they won a lot of games this year with lousy third down conversion and lousy red zone performance. Those are two things that almost one‑to‑one force losing. So they won some games getting away with this, and I think towards the end of the season, as they were working through the lockout and new relationships and getting used to each other, that they kind of start to spread their wings just in time.
I think against Pittsburgh, remember the scoring play to Vernon, just unique kind of fun plays in the red zone; that now, we are not just kicking field goals. We are not just going to drop back, read the defense, do the right thing and drop it down and kick a field goal. We are not going to do it. We are not going to get there. The last couple of weeks have been exciting. And now, by the nature of the games, they are forced to just react and respond and they have answered the bell. The play-calling is a piece of it and just the guys taking it upon themselves. Alex describing his throw on Saturday as, I knew that I had a field goal and I had to be careful, but, I'm throwing it in there; where I think in October, he would have not thrown it in there, right. So it's not just play calling, which I think has been unique and different and especially later on, but now it's the guys that are saying, hey, call whatever you want, we are going to make it happen.
Q. They have had six comeback wins this year in the fourth quarter. Obviously, Jim was a quarterback 15 years ago. Do you sense that his persona rubbed off on them for those comebacks, like when it gets down to them in the fourth quarter to rally up?
STEVE YOUNG: Jim is what I call over‑competitive, but kind of tongue‑in‑cheek. I've said many times, he'll race you to the car door and you love that personality. There's just a relentlessness. And I think speaking with Alex yesterday, that's how he and the rest of the guys are, just totally genuine. Nothing happens that they don't completely believe. That's an amazing statement for a player to talk about a head coach that way, completely authentic. I think Jim uses that to his benefit when it really counts, like all of a sudden it's a tight ballgame and he says, this is how it's going to go, and I think everybody believes it. There's not one person that says, oh, yeah, this is what he always says, and he's full of bologna. There's nothing there. And I think it helped him when he played, and I think it's helping him when he coaches; that the guys really ‑‑ he always says treat comments about, oh, they are on the same page or they really believe in each other.
But I think at some point the words actually are extremely meaningful and in this situation, just listening to Alex, they are ‑‑ the authenticity that Jim feels with them day‑to‑day. And that's dealing with them on practice and scheduling and workouts and travel and roster and who gets cut. I mean, there's a lot of complex issues that players are very aware of that put coaches in compromising positions to say one thing and do another; very difficult, extremely difficult, for players to truly believe that the head coach is always authentic. So when you get that, to me, that's the genius of Jim Harbaugh is he does that, he pulls that off, and in a complex environment, the dynamics of the pro game almost don't allow that. They just won't ‑‑ they just make it impossible. Jim kind of weaves that web. And I think in the fourth quarter is where you really see it, especially on the road, because guys look for the bus. They are tired. They figure, oh, we'll get them next time, especially a team that has lost a bunch, like this team has in the back, changed that mentality.
Q. Just want to follow up on Joe Flacco. He was criticized yesterday on the radio by Ed Reed, various comments about his performance over the weekend. If you're a quarterback, how do you feel about getting called out by a teammate of that stature? Reed's comments were almost identical to what Santonio Holmes said about the Jets earlier in the season and that created chemistry issues. Can that have a divisive effect?
STEVE YOUNG: A little different in that Ed is one of the voices in the locker room that self‑polices. This is one of the things about the Ravens that helps them be where they are despite to me the systemic flaw that I described, is they have a great locker room and they have guys that self‑police.
So pretty substantive Ed said it, so I think it's going to be pretty meaningful and should put a red flag up. And also because it's from Ed, it's not from left field and it's not going to cause more than Joe to straighten up; like, hey, Ed said it, I have to deal with it, and it must have something to it or he wouldn't have and I'd better a big boy and better play better, that kind of thing. Rather that some goofball saying something in the press that creates division and no one trusts the source and thinks the guy is a goof for saying it. And then Joe would ‑‑ if the situation was different, he would want to go back to that guy and fight him or have some argument and then another person would jump in and back that guy and pretty soon the locker room is just shot. That's not the situation.
So I think in a way, Joe is going to stabilize a little bit, because who wants to hear Ed Reed say something bad about you. But also Joe will see like, hey, it's like Ronnie Lott saying something or Tim McDonald. Better deal with it. And I think Joe is a tough kid. He'll figure it out.
Q. Eli Manning pretty much elevated himself at this point to a Hall of Fame‑type quarterback along the likes of his brother or Tom Brady, or is he shy of that? And do you think his personality, he's almost never in the middle of any kind of controversy even though he's in New York, is he ideally suited to the city where he plays?
STEVE YOUNG: Eli is awesome. What happens to me is, sometimes guys’ personalities are not conducive to that ‑‑ I'll use it, the sport assassin. You know I use it as a metaphor, not to cause any problems. You have to have that part of your personality. I've always joked that Peyton is a nice guy and comes off as a nice guy. And if the situation on the field is, yeah, really nice guy but then you walk away and you're dripping blood, like you don't know how it happened, like the knife is so sharp, because he's that kind of a guy; over my dead body is this not going to go down this way.
Eli didn't seem to have that personality. More of a, if it's going good, that's good and if it's going bad, okay. And I just think that over time, that personality, he's given enough opportunities, that works now. He seems, to my mind, to have that confidence that in any situation, kind of the droopiness that would come after a mistake or something happened, and the uneven performances would become great; and then there would be an even one and a great one. It seems like he's lived through it and developed the same kind of effect that his brother had, in a different way. And I think that's maybe the best compliment you can give Eli is that he doesn't want to be his brother, so he doesn't want to have everyone saying, oh, he's just like his brother and I'm saying, it's just the opposite. He's become as effective as his brother, but in an Eli way and that might be the best compliment.
Now, I saw him twice on Monday night this year and it was very uneven. It was kind of more of the same, but in the last month, in my mind, you can say that there's really no one better. There's others that did as well but there's no one better than Eli in the last month, and that's hopefully today and the future. He said on the radio, I'm an elite quarterback and I say today, absolutely.
Q. What was interesting about the last round was you had three very, very good offenses and Green Bay and New Orleans and New England and two of them lost and when you look at this weekend's games, you've got the Ravens, obviously a great D, and San Francisco and the Giants have good defenses. Do you think this is reaffirming the idea that you need a really top defense to win a championship?
STEVE YOUNG: I thought this was the year that it was, for sure, with all of the yardage thrown and breaking of records, I thought this would be the year that would prove those days were finished. And I think your question is really relevant, because obviously not. The Saints can't go on the road and out‑score the 49ers. If you would have said before the game, look, they are going to be in a shootout and they are going to lose, you would think, no, it's not possible.
I will say that there are still shootouts, so the game has changed. You can't go into a ballgame saying, hey, we have a great defense and we'll win 17‑10. Those days, I think, are generally over, except if the Ravens play the Jets. But to your point, big defenses will stand up in playoff situations. So it's still relevant. It's just not quite as relevant as the old days in my mind. It's a big deal and I think the Giants and 49ers playing each other is interesting because two really great defenses. The Patriots will have to be proven wrong, that they can't go the distance in this pass‑happy era.
Q. Does that tell you anything about how you think the weekend's games will go?
STEVE YOUNG: No. Just because I think the situation ‑‑ well, you know, I think the game to watch, to your question, is Ravens and the Patriots, right, because the big boys on defense and this phenomenally unique, different, led by one of the great players ever, it's unbelievable what Tom does now, he's built a repertoire now that you just don't want to miss.
I would like to see the results of that game. I think your question is going to be answered on the field. Phenomenal offense against a great defense and we'll see in this era who can pull off championship football.
Q. You talk about competitiveness with Jim. Were you the same kind of guy? Would you race somebody to a car door?
STEVE YOUNG: I used to be. I don't know, I think to me, I kind of, you know that Joe Montana was a big influence on me and Joe was as competitive as any human being I've ever been around. But I loved that he picked his spot. You know, he competed right when it mattered most. And that could be down to, you know, the friendly golf game in training camp, but he picked his spot, like it was just ‑‑ and so I think I started to learn that kind of mentality a little bit more.
But yeah, I think we are all, just the nature of the positions and the places that we went and where Jim is, you have to be hyper‑competitive or really, you pick something different.
Q. Getting back to Alex Smith and the quarterback‑centric offense, how have you seen him really progress over the year, and especially in the last month?
STEVE YOUNG: Well, he describes the real seminal experience with Coach Harbaugh as the first meeting. And you have to have gone through this, where I was in Tampa Bay and came to San Francisco and Bill Walsh. When you're with a coach who has a philosophy that if my quarterback is successful, we'll all be successful; and that's not because he's better or more important, it's just the nature of how I want to coach. I want to coach and call plays that make the quarterback, make sure that he's comfortable and make him successful; if I do all of those things, we'll be good. And I think that's the quarterback‑centric mentality that I'm talking about; that you think with the nature of what the truth of the quarterback position is in the league, everyone would be or do or have, and it's just not.
And so Alex suffered through, you know, a long period of time without that. And so when he got with Jim, immediately, it changed everything. And so it's as if the light turns on and Jim says, look, you and I, we are going to be successful and I'm going to call plays and you and I ‑‑ and the way Alex described it yesterday, to me, made a lot of sense. It seemed like I'm doing less than I used to do, because the pressure was so much greater because of the lack of institutional support. He always seemed like he was carrying the load of everything, which was not necessarily true, or appropriate. And now, he describes it as, look, I feel that I'm doing less, but you now see on the field, he's doing way more, which proves the point that this idea of quarterback‑centric systems are the truth in football.
And other than the Ravens winning in 2000 ‑‑ I'm not sure, 2000, 2001, but it is generally the truth and so Alex is now ‑‑ he describes it as literally the clouds parted or the sun came out or whatever metaphor you want to use, that's how it feels to him. So now how he's played throughout the year is just a reflection of all of that. Once you understand that foundation of how he feels about where he is today, and the play itself, it explains all of the play. And now, like he said this weekend, "I just played."
"Well, how did you feel when the Saints went up and took the lead and then you ran the bootleg and scored?"
"Yeah, I did. Well, it was great."
"Did you notice that it was the biggest moment of your career? Did you notice this is going to be a stake in the ground forever in 49er history?"
"No, we just played."
That's how it happens. If you thought about all the historicity of it, of all the things that went into it, he would be overwhelmed, but he's not. He's relaxed and feeling like he just had to do his job, and out comes an all‑world performance on Saturday.
Q. When do you think the city realized he was the quarterback that San Francisco could win with?
STEVE YOUNG: I think it's come over time. He started the year, and I said this before the season, please, Jim, be careful, don't rush this and have Alex start slowly, because you'll lose control and the crowd will storm the castle, you know, and you won't have a choice, because that's how tedious I think it was with Alex early. When Alex didn't play poorly and played well and played safely and didn't make mistakes and they won, every week provided more ground cover, right, for them to keep doing their thing. And I think it was genius for Jim to build off of that slowly but surely. And I think the fans slowly started to turn from, there is no chance I ever want to see Alex play to, wow, I really like this, let's keep winning. And now, in just a couple of weeks, it's because of Alex; it's that he's the reason. There's no going back on that now and I think that's a fun place for Alex to be.
And I tried to describe it to him yesterday, but he's still in the moment, right. But in time, he'll see that he's different now, because of what he's been through, and in a positive way, and the fans and the city are different now because of what's happened. There's no going back and Alex is the beneficiary of that. It's great news.
Q. If somebody refers to a quarterback, or the perception is that they are a ‘game manager’, is that one of the worst backhanded compliments a quarterback can get? And, does Alex still have time and can he change that perception ultimately?
STEVE YOUNG: He's changed. Has it completely changed? No. But it's different. After Saturday, it's different and it will be in a way that there's not ‑‑ there's no going back on that. You do that in that situation in that way, he'll be able to refer to it. Others will be able to refer to it. Those things don't happen very often and so that's a significant change. The problem I have with the idea of game manager, it's definitely code for: he can't play championship football. It's like calling someone a scrambler. That's code for: he isn't a real quarterback. The truth of the nature is, scrambling is, a side light to it, doesn't really have to define you. And game manager, that's 60 or 70 percent of the job. To my mind, Tony Romo, the 30 percent that's the extra‑highest level, point of the sphere championship play that Drew and Tom and all those guys do, Tony does really well, but he struggles more of the commodity, the game manager stuff. So being a game manager in my mind, if you're really efficient and doing it well, that's a big part of the job and should be complimented. But there's more to it and should be added to. So, I think that Alex is definitely, out of last week, leaving behind what people use it as, as a negative. He'll start to leave that behind, which is probably really good, right. Because despite my description of it, as a positive, for what it does do, it's still out in the world, when you say someone is a game manager, it's not a compliment.
Q. Were you ever labeled something that you kind of disagreed with or were displeased with along those lines?
STEVE YOUNG: Do you sense some bitterness? (Chuckling). I think, you know, sure: Too short, not strong enough arm, scrambler, can't stay in the pocket, all that. Everything that you can ‑‑ because people, until you do it, it sticks. It is what it is. And that's why people have these guideposts or these hurdles to knock down and everyone went through it, Joe Montana, Peyton Manning, watched everybody go through it, where you can't do this; I remember all of the comments, until you do it, and then you've done it. So that's just the nature of what Alex is going ‑‑ Alex's journey through that might be a more elongated one, but in a year or two, you might look back and say, we used to actually refer to him as a guy that couldn't win the big game. And now he's won five, you know what I mean, or six or 10. So I just love what Saturday sets up for the possibilities for Alex in the future.
Q. Talking about the success that the Giants have had on the road, Eli is going for playoff win No. 5 on the road and the team plays better away from home this season. Why do you think that is?
STEVE YOUNG: Tom Coughlin is an amazing motivator. When you look at his personality, you think, I don't know about that. There's some ability he has to laser focus a football team when it's most important. And he seems to be a real valuable asset, kind of Knute Rockne almost. Something about him gets guys, where usually teams falter, you don't see the Giants in big slides. They play poorly, then they play well. The problem is then they play poorly, but then they play well.
To me, Tom Coughlin is constantly able to draw out from these guys the most. And despite the slides that happen as they kind of transition and whatever they are going through over the last five years at different times, there's a battle; there's kind of a battle readiness that you don't see in the league, again, because of free agency and the turnover and just the nature of the game being more offensive‑minded. You don't see these kind of road warrior teams. That's got to be a compliment to the head coach.
Q. From the 49ers' standpoint, it’s been a while since the team has been back to the NFC Championship; how excited are the fans to be having a game in San Francisco and to be this close to the Super Bowl again?
STEVE YOUNG: For the 49ers, really from the end of the season, we have been flat on our back for a while and we've been seeing this roulette of coaches and general managers and players, and you're in that awful place where you are just in a cycle that you can't seem to get out of. So from six months ago, kind of feeling like, well, Jim Harbaugh's noted alignment to our history and to who Bill (Walsh) was and who we all think we should be was the first step in the journey. We thought it would be a much longer journey, right. It's been an amazing, literally unprecedented ‑‑ it's not overnight. It's been six‑month march of building substance behind substance behind substance which makes them a legitimate championship football team. You can say, well, it happened out of nowhere but it's been a build-up of every yard gained this season has been not done other than just through hard work and substance. I think this team is built now for a long run and it's very exciting for us to watch the 49ers regularly.
Q. Talking to Jim and telling me before the fumble by Roger Craig in the 1990 Championship Game, the series of plays was supposed to be Tom Rathman getting the handoff and then a bootleg by you, and then he was overruled by one of the coach. Is that correct?
STEVE YOUNG: The true nature of it is, that's been kind of ‑‑ we have talked about that as being reality. But I remember Bill wanting to run the 90‑O bootleg, which we had run successfully and that was kind of one of my plays. And then there was, well, no, we shouldn't, we should hand it to Roger. So there was some discussion around which play to call and what to do. And then in the end, we obviously called the running play. And forever more, whoever won with the discussion, or what to do, was on the hook. I suspect it was Bobb McKittrick, because he was the line coach and running coordinator but that's not fair of course, that's the nature of football. But I do know there was discussion about what exactly to do right then.
Q. Simplifying things for Alex, does that mean his first lead or progression? It seems that people think the offense was dumbed down for him and I have a hard time believing that.
STEVE YOUNG: Dumbed down, no, this is a whole new offense that everyone learned cold in August. So it wasn't dumbed down but needed to be learned and perfected and that takes time. The old ‘the glass is half‑full and half‑empty,’ it's half‑full in this situation. It's not fair to say dumbed down. That's crazy. They built substantively from the first day of training camp so they can go out and perform and win games. You can throw the whole kitchen sink at people and overwhelm them and they won't play good football. I think that's one of the best things Jim did this year was to put in front of people ‑‑ and the governor would never be Alex Smith. He can take on whatever you can give him. But the offense as a whole, everyone has to kind of integrate it over a period of time. I think that's why they were not really expressive as an offense early. They ran the football and kicked field goals and won. And then here at the end, you can see it all kind of settling in. So no, that would be a misstatement if you said it was dumbed down.