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Alex Smith: Addressing Haters and Making A Case For Kansas City's Quarterback

Alex Smith has not been the best quarterback in the NFL by any stretch of the imagination, but he has been the quarterback Kansas City needs.

He’s mostly efficient—despite throwing two interceptions to no touchdowns in the past three games—he’s much more athletic than given credit for, and he’s seemingly been a leader on this offense. He’s shown the ability to make good to great throws, and we all know he knows how to manage a game.

Really, that’s all he needs to do, right?

Get the ball to Jamaal Charles, whether it be a run or pass, lean on the tight ends for easy yards, and occasionally get it to Dwayne Bowe or Donnie Avery for a big play or two.

Considering the great special teams and defense the Chiefs’ possess, that’s all Smith has to do.

Why ask him to be anything more than what he is? You can’t get mad at an apple for not being an orange, right? Why be disappointed when he’s done just what this team needs him to do?

After all, the Chiefs are 7-0, and like it or not, he has been one of the major reasons why.

Still, Smith has his detractors, and those detractors tend to be discontent with his production.

For instance, in a piece on the Chiefs by Chase Stuart of the New York Times, here’s what was said about Smith:

An outstanding defense and a singular talent on offense have enabled the Chiefs to get by with mediocre play at quarterback. Alex Smith has earned a label as a winner with a 26-5-1 record as a starter since 2011. But this year, his main role has been to throw short, safe passes, and even that has been a challenge.

Smith’s average pass has traveled just 6.23 yards past the line of scrimmage this year, the shortest of any passer. Quarterbacks who throw shorter passes tend to produce high completion percentages. Smith, who frequently checked down with San Francisco, too, completed 70.2 percent of his passes last year with the 49ers, but this season with the Chiefs he has completed only 58 percent.

I’ll admit, you can’t argue with the facts, and at least by the numbers, Smith hasn’t been a great quarterback for Kansas City.

Still, let me repeat it, this team is 7-0. Even though credit has to be given to Jamaal Charles, the special teams and of course, the defense, Smith has played a role in that success as well.

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Why does it have to be pretty to be efficient?

Why does Smith have to put up Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady-esque numbers in order to be the same type of leader that those quarterbacks are?

I’d argue that on this team, he doesn’t.

In fact, and this has been brought up before, we’ve seen teams have Super Bowl winning success with quarterbacks who weren’t necessarily stars, or even relatively that good.

Quarterbacks like Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer have led their teams to Super Bowl wins while relying on great defenses, so why is it so wrong for Smith to try to do the same?

Is it the fact that we’re spoiled in today’s quarterback-driven NFL and expect superhuman performances from our quarterbacks on a weekly basis?

Or, are we just not able to trust that John Dorsey, Andy Reid and company know what they’re doing? This is their jobs, after all. Smith was brought here for a reason and I dare say his limitations were known before hand.

Could it be that Dorsey and Reid knew that they had a potentially great defense on their hands, and that all they would need is a game-manager at quarterback to help lead the offense and lead Kansas City to wins?

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Is it possible to trust a general manager, or are Chiefs fans still too shellshocked from the Scott Pioli era? Eventually, as is the case with any bad relationship, you have to learn to let go in order to truly move on and accept the new, good relationship you have right in front of you.

Maybe they just got lucky and this all happened randomly, but either way, the Chiefs are 7-0.

Smith may not have the best deep ball and he may be infuriating as he throws check downs, but like it or not, he’s been at the helm of this undefeated run through the 2013 season.

He’s displayed leadership, poise and more grit than you’d like to see from your starting quarterback. He’s bounced back from big hits, led a few really nice touchdown drives with his arm as well as his feet, and he’s done just enough to get his team a victory seven weeks in a row now.

That’s enough for me to believe in Smith, but not everybody is convinced in him or this team. Back to Stuart’s piece:

Only one of Kansas City’s victories came against a team with a winning record, and that team, the Dallas Cowboys, has not beaten a team with a winning record this year. No team has had an easier schedule than Kansas City.

But the expectations were never that Kansas City would go from having the No. 1 pick in the draft to winning the Lombardi Trophy. That the Chiefs remain the lone unbeaten team is a testament to the remarkable turnaround led by Coach Andy Reid.

Kansas City’s game plan is clear: play tough defense, win the field-position battle, minimize mistakes on offense and pull out close victories. That blueprint works against less talented teams, but will leave little margin for error against the top ones.

Kansas City plays the Browns and Bills before the bye week, and then comes back to a gauntlet of Denver, San Diego, Denver and Washington.

The Raiders, Colts and Chargers round out the 2013 schedule, and then it’s the playoffs, a place that Kansas City wasn’t even supposed to sniff this year, let alone get to.

Some may say that the Chiefs haven’t proven themselves just yet, but I vehemently disagree with that point. There’s no such thing as an easy win in the NFL. Everybody is a professional, and the talent level is simply too high. You can’t skate through games in the National Football League.

The Chiefs have earned every bit of their 7-0 record, and they’ve proven themselves to be one of the best teams in the NFL, so far.

No matter how good your defense is and no matter how effective your running game is, you simply can’t win games in the NFL without a capable quarterback.

Smith may not be superstar, but he’s undoubtedly capable of leading this team.

Hate him all you want, or don’t believe in him, but at the end of the day, keep this in mind: He’s lead this team to seven wins so far.

Why doubt that he’ll lead them to more?

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Tags: Alex Smith Andy Reid Dwayne Bowe Jamaal Charles John Dorsey Kansas City Chiefs

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