I remember the day Kansas City traded for Alex Smith. It came at the price of two second round draft picks, which seemed a little pricey, but I shrugged this off as I, along with every other Chiefs fan, was happy to finally have a competent quarterback (QB) in town. After years of watching terrible QBs play, most people weren’t too concerned about getting a bargain.
After Trent Green’s departure, Kansas City suffered through several years of incompetency from the most important position on the field. Brodie Croyle, the alleged QB of the future, never won a game in which he started. Tyler Thigpen was fun to watch but brought the team a mere two wins. Matt Cassel became one of the most hated players in franchise history over the course of a few miserable seasons before finally being ousted when Andy Reid and John Dorsey came to town. The new regime quickly went to work and secured Alex Smith, who had been benched in favor of Colin Kaepernick, from San Francisco, (look how that one worked out).
It is likely that the years of QB incompetency effectively lowered the standard for QBs in KC. Smith was certainly no Manning. In fact, he may have been an extremely average QB who happened to play on an otherwise very good team. Regardless, Chiefs fans didn’t think of it this way. Smith had won games in San Francisco, and it was hoped that he could do the same in Kansas City.
In 2013, Smith’s first season as QB, he led Kansas City to the playoffs just one season after they had posted the worst record in the league. He put up very average numbers, but this was irrelevant. The Chiefs were finally winners. Who cares about any number other than wins?
In an offense that lacked explosive players, excluding Jamaal Charles, Smith made the most of his situation. The Chiefs ran a very conservative offense. Smith threw just seven interceptions, got the ball to the team’s best player, Jamaal Charles, and won games. Well, I’m not so sure that he went out there and won games. Really, he played conservatively enough not to outright lose games for the team like QBs of old so often had. The rest of the Chiefs talented roster made the plays necessary to secure wins. Although it was anything but flashy and exciting, Smith was a good fit for the team and filled his role well.
In 2014, however, everyone started to get a bit frustrated with Smith. He refused to throw the ball more than 10 yards down the field. He couldn’t get the ball to his receivers, and no KC WR scored a single touchdown in 2014. Kansas City’s offense was absolutely embarrassing at times, never taking shots downfield. At this point, I defended Alex Smith. I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I convinced myself that he was still doing his job the way that would best allow the Chiefs to succeed. Smith’s numbers were even more mediocre than the previous season’s, but I was still convinced that Smith was valuable, as he was one of those players that found a way to win. Even if it’s unconventional or downright ugly, a win is a win.
This season, however, I am absolutely disgusted with Alex Smith. Kansas City now has some serious weapons on offense. Jeremy Maclin was signed to the team in March. Promising tight end Travis Kelce is in his second season. Albert Wilson showed plenty of promise in his rookie year and in training camp. And the ridiculously athletic Chris Conley was drafted out of Georgia in May. Not to mention, Smith still had the most dynamic running-back in football to work with. Smith was due for an improvement, yet he continued to, and still continues, to post mediocre numbers.
At one point, on an offense with few weapons, Smith’s conservative approach was a good fit. Now, however, Smith has plenty of weapons on offense but he still refuses to take risks and still hardly ever throws the ball downfield. When he does try to throw downfield, he displays poor arm strength and a lack of accuracy. I cannot remember the last time Smith aired one out and the ball was actually caught.
The offense of 2015 is much more talented than that of 2013. There is no longer any excuse for being mediocre. At this point, Smith is holding the team back. He does not utilize the dynamic players that surround him. He squanders much of the talent on the Kansas City roster. As a result, the offense has looked horrible fairly often this season. I don’t think Smith is a terrible QB, but I also don’t think he is capable of getting the Chiefs to where they ultimately want to be, and that is the Super Bowl.
I don’t believe Kansas City should actively search for a new QB via trade or free agency. I do, however, think Reid and Dorsey should look for a QB in the draft who they can develop in their own system. I am afraid that Andy Reid will be hesitant to give up Alex Smith but I hope that he can acknowledge that there are better options out there.