Jaws’ QB Countdown: Alex Smith Comes In At 20

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN analyst (and former Chiefs QB) Ron Jaworski, is releasing his yearly NFL QB rankings and he has Kansas City Qb Alex Smith coming in at No. 20.

Interestingly, that ranking is only two slots higher than former Chiefs QB, Matt Cassel, received in 2012. Last year, Cassel sat at No. 22 and Smith was ranked No. 16 coming off a strong season in San Francisco.

Here is some of what “Jaws” had to say about Smith this year.

“Now it gets interesting. My top 20. My 20th-ranked quarterback is Alex Smith. A year ago, Smith was coming off his best season in the NFL, having led the 49ers to the NFC Championship. This year, he’s the starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs. It was a great move by Andy Reid to acquire Smith.

“The defining element of Smith’s play is efficiency. He executes the offense the way it’s designed, and he makes very few mistakes. Last season – for the second year in a row – he was exceptional on first down. In 2012 he led the NFL in first-down passing, with a quarterback rating of 119. Much of it came off play-action, or in the case of the 49ers, hard run-action out of base personnel. There was no better play-action quarterback last season than Smith. He had a quarterback rating of over 132.

“Smith has been outstanding out of multiple tight end personnel over the last couple of seasons. No quarterback has thrown the ball more with three tight ends on the field. You don’t see that very often in today’s NFL.

This is the usual narrative when we hear an evaluation ofSmith. He doesn’t make mistakes, he executes the plan and he is good on first down.

Here is what Jaws said about Matt Cassel in 2012.

“Cassel is at his best in a managed offense that features run personnel, run formations and the play-action pass game. Play-action primarily gives the quarterback ‘either-or’ defined reads. Cassel is very good in that scenario. … Cassel throws the ball better to the inside — digs, hooks and throws like that — than he does to the outside. That’s the way it is with quarterbacks with limited arm strength.

“In addition, the deep throws often come on first down. Play-action is almost always featured. As is six- or seven-man pass-protection schemes. … You give Matt Cassel a solid run game, a good offensive line, room in the pocket to deliver the football comfortably, and he can be a very efficient NFL starter. That’s what he is. He’s a function of the team around him. And he needs those pieces in place working effectively.”

Jaws seemed to be right about Cassel. When the team around him was performing efficiently in 2010, Cassel was at his best. When the team around him was a dumpster fire or mistakes and regret, like in 2012, Cassel was pretty much useless.

While there are some similarities in what Cassel and Smith do well, Jaws seems to be more complimentary of Smith’s skills.

“One area Smith improved in 2012 was in the pre-snap phase of the game. He was much better at the line of scrimmage checking and audibling.

“It will be interesting to see what Andy Reid does in Kansas City. Don’t be surprised if he turns Smith loose a little bit and features an up-tempo offense with an emphasis on quick throws. Remember, Alex Smith played for Urban Meyer at Utah.”

Smith was perhaps better in 2012 than he was in 2011 so why did he drop from #16 to # 20 in the rankings?

I think there are a number of factors. For starters, Smith only started about half the season in 2012 before being replaced by Colin Kaepernick. Add to that the influx of young and successful QBs in Andrew Luck, RG3 and Russel Wilson and a guy like Smith was bound to slide a little bit.

I believe that if Smith had started the entire season for the 49ers, San Francisco still would have had an excellent chance to make it to the Super Bowl.

If Smith can bring the same hope to Kansas City in 2013, he’ll likely be a lot higher than No. 20 in next year’s ranks.

Topics: Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs

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  • berttheclock

    Considering “Jaws” thought KC should have taken Geno Smith, I will relegate Mr Jaws to the scrap heap. Jaws has become the “Mouth That Roared” and has become about as relevant to the NFL punditry as the Duchy of Fenwick was to world power.

    • Ameridude

      As goes the Duchy of Fenwick, so goes the WORLD!!!

    • robert mccall

      How do you know at this ponit in the season…before anyone has played, that he was wrong about Geno Smith and KC?

      • Calchiefsfan

        Micah is that you?

        • micah stephenson

          No. Thats Robert

      • micah stephenson

        We dont know yet. Geno cud ball out like R.Wilson and kopernick did.

      • PunjabiPete

        How do YOU know Alex Smith is a bust in KC? Same evidence..

    • Chief Hokie

      Hey! What’s wrong with geno smith?!

      • Jason Seibel

        Where should we start?

        • Jim Harper

          Even though I am retired I don’t have enough time to address what all is wrong with Geno. First off he went to the worst possible team. Jets fans are probably the least forgiving in all of the NFL.

          • micah stephenson

            Whaaaaat! Geno Smith is a good QB. Why you keep hating on the brotha? By the end of the yr Geno will b a star. And Alex Smith will still suck.

      • micah stephenson

        Is it just me or do they b hating on the black QBs? The critics talked bad about Cam Newtown and RG3 too. But within half a season all those critics admitted they where wrong. I got a feeling by week 9, critics will say ” Whoa mayby we wur wrong about Geno” and some will say “I told you so, I knew it all along”

    • Suzi Conger

      Mega-agree ‘bert’…. several ambiguities and inconsistancies with jaws’ ‘thought’ process.

  • micah stephenson

    I like that led the nfl in 1st down passing wit a 119 rating, and the 132 rating off playaction. Becuse of madden of corse Lol. I pass alot on 1st down, off playaction and out of run formations. I also like to run wit my QB. Sometimes to buy time to get the ball downfield, sometimes to run for the 1st. Add in that that cant stop JC running or catching and I cant b stopped!!!!!

    • Donald Davis

      When did Jaws play for the Chiefs? Looks like Len Dawson to me.

  • micah stephenson

    I wish you wud hav posted the list. So we can debate the rankings.

    • berttheclock

      micah, this listing is a one per day which started with his 32nd selection and is, now, down to 20. It is ESPN’s version of the Dog Days of Summer to keep the “suspense” rolling. You can google his list so far. BTW, Josh Freeman was at 21.

      • http://www.arrowheadaddict.com Patrick Allen

        Yeah we can review it at the end

  • berttheclock

    BTW, Patrick, I may have missed it, but, did you report on Gunther Cunningham’s June 29 statement that he believed the read/option will lead to more NFL QBs getting injured?

    • Merlin_Arrowhead_Addict

      I read that and agree with Gunther.

    • Troy Utt

      Bert, I believe it also made reference in the article to an interview I had mentioned here on AA from Steelers coach Mike Tomlin… He more or less echoed the same sentiment, saying “Why would you want to put your QB out there to be exposed like that?” “As long as they do, our D will just wait to see them on the field.” There have been several that have mirrored that comment, and I’m sure to some extent the defense’s will adapt as they will not be caught off guard and had the off season to alter personel to better handle the pistol or read/option. Just as the Chiefs brought in the “Godfather” to help prepare the “D”…

  • Merlin_Arrowhead_Addict

    I respect Jaws as an analyst and this ranking does concern me. I expected Alex to come in around 12-15.

  • paul pace

    I would more than likely probably disagree with some of Jaws current qb rankings but he is supposedly the expert and would have to yield to his professional knowledge and experience! I am a little surprised that Smith was ranked that low but the season hasn’t even started so time will tell.

  • cd3382

    Another reason why he will play with a chip on his shoulder. I can’t wait…Chiefs!!!

  • Calchiefsfan

    I find the last quote from Jaws very interesting. 3 tight end sets was where Smith was outstanding. So is that part of Reid’s plan for Smith? Will we keep 4 tight ends on the roster? I like the idea of Fasano, Moeaki and Kelce on the field at the same time with Bowe and Charles, with this formation being a strength for Smith. All of them good blockers as well. Sounds like a nightmare for any opposing defense.

    • stephan costa

      That’s what I said after we drafted Kelce. I loved it and think it plays to Smiths strengths. Plus offers Max protection while hopefully providing huge lanes for the best RB in the NFL.

    • 44WinMag

      I think Brokeaki is done in KC.

      • Calchiefsfan

        A lot of people think that which is unfortunate. He has a lot of talent if he could stay healthy. I guess we’ll see what happens in training camp.

    • KCMikeG

      Yes IMO we will keep 4 TE’s on the roster. Count on seeing the 3 TE formation with Charles and one of the TE’s (Moeaki if healthy) right up there after Bowe for most receptions at the end of the year.

      • Calchiefsfan

        That would be my preference, then we could keep Harris and not risk him on the practice squad or have to put him on the IR to protect him. Smith likes his tight ends, wait a minute that didn’t sound right. Smith being from San Francisco that really didn’t sound right. Smith likes to target his tight ends. You know that sounded worse. Oh well, you know what I mean.

  • Suzi Conger

    AS11 = Top 10

    • paul pace

      I think you are close but I think realistically Smith would come in around 12 or 13.

      • Suzi Conger

        hey paul; I tend to favor nfl ratings; based on facts/stats, not just some arbitray opinion. ’12 AS11 = #3 rated QB (in spite of 7th highest sacked/rushed/pressured ; least amount of time to execute plays/passes ) ARodgers = #1 , PManning = #2

        I’m hoping that KCC will give AS better protection; sky’s the limit, lol Well, shucks, PO’s at least, yes? Go Chiefs!!

    • Suzi Conger

      hey bg, thanks for stopping by with your ‘gloom and doom’ report
      Hope you feel better soon

  • Suzi Conger

    AS11 = Top 10 QB

    ’12…. AS11 = #3 nfl rated QB @ 104.+ ( 7th highest in sacks/rushes/pressure/ shortest time to execute plays/passes )
    ARodgers = #1 @ 108, PManning = #2 @ 105 ; ( PM and CK7 were tied for Lowest number of sacks/rushes/Pressure; longest time available to make plays/passes… Pressure PM and he folds; remember his/Den’s first 3 game losses in ’12; PM threw 3 interceptions in first quarter/half

    AS11 is THE most Underrated QB by ‘analysts’…. the nfl facts/states don’t lie….

    • Suzi Conger

      hey gloom an doom bg; get well soon :-)

    • KCMikeG

      Same is true of Brady. Look what we did to him in 2011 – completely dominated and destroyed him for most of the 1st half. Then for reasons still unexplained the defensive genius RAC pulled back the pressure and let Tommy boy dissect us. Brady was so pissed off he was in there hurrying his offense at the end of the game so he could put up one more TD.

  • BurtGummer44

    Jaws is an excellent, experienced annalists not a delusional Fan, and 20-25 for AS is about right as he’s a bottom tier QB. I feel Freeman at 21 has more upside and Sam Bradford at 22 could have a breakout season. After that……….woe Nelly!

    As for the Chiefs offense, everything except for JC is a question mark at best. AS is much like Cassel, he needs everyone around him to play well in-order to raise HIS level of play; and I just don’t see it on this team. The difference between 2012 and 2013 is coaching, the talent level is basically about the same.

    • Jim Harper

      Cassel and Alex are night and day different. Alex is far more mobile. Cassel has zero mobility. Alex is very accurate and Cassel is not. There are really too many differences to list them all.

      • BurtGummer44
        • 44WinMag

          Statistically Smith was worse on 3rd down. Also, Cassel played his best under Weiss ans sunk under changing coaches, just like Smith except under Harbaugh. No telling how he’ll perform under Reid, but anything Middle of the Road would be good. Also, Smith was/is injury prone and with this new OL the odds are against him making it through 16 games. I’m interested in seeing how Bray performs in the Preseason, he might just be the next Chiefs starter in waiting.

          • Suzi Conger

            44WinMag; Statistically compare AS11/MC ; their two best seasons;

            MC ; 2008 @ 89.4 and 2010 @ 93.
            AS ; 2011 @ 90.7 and 2012 @ 104.1

            You forget that AReid has been keeping track of AS11 since his (AS’s) Ute playing days, checked with SF for AS’s availability throughout the years, is good friends with UMeyers and knows that AS is already proficient with ‘pistol/spread’, thus enter CAult

            BTW, I’m going to stick with my opinion that JDorsey, AReid, CAult, ARodgers, VDavis, JamaalC, DBowe, and KCC teammates know more about ‘SuperBowl’ quality QB’s than micah, bg44, and yourself combined; and myself, too. I just happen to agree with them…

        • AK49

          Good Grief they both have a career QBR of 46.6! That Sucks! Thanks for the link.

          • Suzi Conger

            check out http://www.arrowheadpride.com “Breaking Down Alex Smith; From a Doubter to a Believer “…. an extremely intelligent analysis of ’12 AS11 SF season.

      • Suzi Conger

        You are so right Jim; even if you wanted to take the time, alas and alak, I have discovered that bg44 chooses generalized negative AS11 mythology statements to factual/statistical based AS11 opinions.

        • Suzi Conger

          Hey bg, nice to see you executing those ‘down arrows’ :-)

          • micah stephenson

            Well Suzi, what you got to say about all that? Did you read the ESPN link?

          • Suzi Conger

            I did michah, and I agree with KCMikeG…

            Now, micah, did you ever read and watch “Breaking Down Alex Smith; From a Doubter (that’s You, lol ) to a Believer” http://www.arrowheadpride.com ,MNChiefsfan

          • Suzi Conger

            hey micah, why don’t you comment on this article? But you gotta read the Whole article, carefully

        • 44WinMag

          Take a look at the comparison linked on ESPN. They are as close to being Identical statistically as you can get without being the same QB. They both need the right system and the right talent around them. Neither are top tier QBs, all you have to do is look at their 3rd down statistics, which is where you separate the Great from the Not So Good; and Smith stats on 3rd is bottom of the barrel. Reid has his work cut out for him if the offense gets behind the chains on 1st and 2nd down.

          • Suzi Conger

            44winman; your ’3rd down’ statement’ is grossly inaccurate; in fact JFlacco, RWilson, RGIII, CNewton are rated (much) lower on ’3rds’ than AS11 … I guess that means that all those QB’s are ‘Not So Good’..your words ( and o yeah, CK7 is 20+% lower in RedZone and 5+% lower in 3rd/conversion than AS..but then CK7′s ‘Not So Good’, as well… according to you).

            Nope, gotta agree with NFL ratings before yours…. AS11 = #3 ’12 nfl QB, #1 accuracy/completion%…. Not to mention AReid, JDorsey, JCh, DBowe, CAult, ARodgers, VDavis, DJ, etc, etc. opinion’s of AS!!

            I think AReid knows winning football QB’s and strategy leaps and bounds ahead of you, bg44, micah combined ; he’s (AR) has been keeping track and inquiring about AS11′s availability since AS’s Ute days (and good friends with UMeyer)…Apparently AR doesn’t agree with you that ‘his work is cut out for him’.

            I read the ESPN comparison and I agree with KCMikeG… that author is comparing ‘apples with oranges’ for the reasons that KCMike states…. a more accurate comparison would be comparing AS and MC’s two best years…good coaching and team players. Try an accurate comparison; everyone knows that there are 3 main components to excellent performance grading factors; Coaching/Management (trainer), supporting/surrounding teammate talent, inury (ie; for example; a nascar driver can have an excellent pit boss/crew (management/coaching), and win record, but if (his) car has engine failure (injury), that’s gonna lower his stats.)

            I am curious why you didn’t rebut Jim and KCMikes posts?….sexist…, maybe?

          • Suzi Conger

            Looking forward to a reply…?

      • micah stephenson

        Well I read that ESPN article and seen all those dramatic differences between the Smith and Cassel. Lol. They are twin brothers. You stick Cassel on the Patriots or 49s he wins 11 games and looks like Alex Smith. You stick Alex Smith on the Chiefs and he looks like the Chiefs Cassel.

        • Suzi Conger

          micah, the accurate way to compare MC and AS is to compare their two best years… both had good coaching staff, comparable teammates

        • Suzi Conger

          micah, did u compare AS11′s and MC’s two best years? And did u read/watch the ‘Breaking Down AS11….’ article?

          • micah stephenson

            No. I have compared they career stats tho. instead of isolating smiths only good games ive judged him on his entire body of work. Both Smith and Cassel suck.

          • Suzi Conger

            I agree with Jim and KCMikeG; to compare years with bad coaching/management and bad teams with good coaching/management/teams is a fallacy.

            Tell me micah, why didn’t AR/JD just keep Cassel?

            You know, I have full confidence that even if AS11 led the KCC’s to the SuperBowl, and won…You would still be blindly criticizing and tearing him down…all of your statements are bigoted…don’t worry, you are not alone there’s a couple others, one in particular, …

            Yep, it’s for sure; you are an honorary member of the ‘hate Alex Smith’ club, a Smith hater, for sure…No , there’s no reasoning with people who demonstrate prejudice. Have fun with your cup-half-empty micah :-)

          • micah stephenson

            Cassel had his chance and messed up. This is about ticket sales and noone wud pay to see cassel.

      • KCMikeG

        Comparison is a bit off. Considering that a big share of Cassel’s production came from one year with the mighty Patriots who had a terrific team (16-0 in 2007) around him. Randy Moss still in his prime and Wess Welker in 2008 were significantly more than Alex had in 2011. Factor in he was in a winning environment with a staff that had years and Super Bowls behind him, as opposed to Alex winning with a new staff and that’s a big advantage too.

        As much as I like stats they don’t tell the whole story.

    • micah stephenson

      I been trying to tell them Alice Smith aint Sh*t! They like to sort through the stats and pick out a few good ones then throw out aaaallll the bad ones. And then try to convince me this bum is good. Ried been losing lately, so he has to win now. The Chiefs need to sell tickets, so they have to win now. That why they got Smith. Geting 8-9 wins is winning around hur. Smith aint taken us no where. We shuda drafted a QB.

      • Suzi Conger

        micah, it’s comforting to know that you and bg44 know MORE than AReid, JDorsey, a multitude of KCC teammates, ARodgers, VDavis (to name a few professionals)…

        I know,,,, you should apply for HC and bg can apply for GM,,, or visa versa…. the Hunt family and KCC supporters would rest well at night knowing that you and bg would lead the Chiefs’ team to at least the super bowl!!!! lol Go Chiefs!!

    • micah stephenson

      Micah, is that you?

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