Nov 17, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) breaks the tackle of Denver Broncos defensive end Shaun Phillips (90) in the fourth quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 27-17. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Smith And Pressure


Add this post to the “Pro Alex Smith” file. Pro Football Focus release a study today breaking down the performance of quarterbacks when facing unblocked pressure. Smith, as it would turn out, is one of the best at both avoiding the pressure and making positive plays.

Ben Stockwell of PFF has the words:

Surrendering 56 unblocked pressures the Kansas City Chiefs were among the league’s 10 worst offenses at giving up unblocked pressure but as a group, led by quarterback Alex Smith, they did the league’s best job at ensuring those pressures weren’t converted into hits and sacks. Of the 56 unblocked pressures the Chiefs surrendered last year only five were sacks and nine of them hits, a league best conversion rate of 25%.

There are a couple of things to consider here about PFF’s numbers. First, either the Chiefs offensive line from last season was not as good as we thought OR there was a lot of learning still going on about what everyone was supposed to be doing at any given time. Andy Reid‘s offense is a complicated one, and it was evident Reid’s play-calling in the first half of the season was limited to what his team could actually execute.

We talk a lot about roster upgrades, and the Chiefs certainly need to get better in certain areas, but a lot of the Chiefs progress is going to come from having already been in the system for a year. Remember, this is the first season since 2007 where the Chiefs will be returning the same head coach, offensive coordinator, and defensive coordinator. This means something. Also consider the Chiefs – even with all of the turnover – are returning four guys from last season’s offensive line that started at least seven games. There’s at least some experience going into 2014.

The other thing is Smith’s ability to handle pressure. Consider this chart from PFF:

Top quarterbacks under pressure via PFF.

Top quarterbacks under pressure via PFF.

Smith isn’t a perfect quarterback by any means, but this chart is certainly encouraging. One can understand why Reid would love Smith’s ability to limit turnovers and to make smart decisions even under pressure. Turning his efficiency and good decision-making into more points would be a useful thing for the Chiefs. Full seasons from Travis Kelce and Anthony Fasano would go a long way towards that.

There are bits and pieces of Smith’s game that make one think he can be a long-term solution for the Chiefs at quarterback. But until Kansas City actually tastes postseason success, doubt will be the predominate feeling around Smith.

Tags: Alex Smith Kansas City Chiefs

  • In_My_Opinion1

    Well, given how the offensive line looks right now, he’s going to have to continue this trend.

  • Tristian

    Im sure Micah will say that some rookie QB from this year or even last year could’ve done better or will do better. It just goes to show that sometimes your stats are affected by other things. When he had protection the second half of last season we saw a potentially elite QB. In the playoff game that is what we saw. I hope the oline continues its upward trend that we saw starting against Oakland. Seeing as how it was those 5 guys and we still have them id hope we will. If the oline protects we contend. If not it doesn’t look good.

    • Daniel Mayfield

      Losing 3 of those 5 guys makes it completely different. It could make it better since 3 new guys are starting “fresh” with KC. Those other 3 already new how to play the blocking game the had before Reid showed up. So I just hope they are strong enough and are skilled enough to catch onto the Reid’s kind of system.

    • micah stephenson

      Does not matter if a rookie QB could b any good cus we all know they are scared to find out.

  • MinorProblem

    Alex did an outstanding job in the postseason game, it was the defense that crumbled. Your point about the postseason success is rather invalid when it comes to Smith.

    • Travis Crouch

      Yea just look at what he did when he played the saints when he was a 49er he won that game

      • micah stephenson

        Wow. 1 game in 8 seasons is all I hear yall braggin about.

        • Travis Crouch

          Well look up he had more game winning score then anybody else that in the playoffs and what about the 42 points last year they lost not is foult

    • Daniel Mayfield

      Not so much the defense. Both sides, IMO. Since I think 5 of KCs players went out, including Charles and Davis, there wasn’t a whole lot that the offense could do. Gray, 3rd string RB, had a chance but Smith over threw him. Bowe had the chance but got knocked out right before his foot hit the ground. It was a good pass from Smith though, just good defense.
      I think the defense lost Flowers, Houston, and Sean Smith. So, losing some of the key players on both sides is what hurt the team.

      • preston riley

        overcoming injuries is part of the game, but to overcome so many in one game gets tough. I recall one analyst saying that with chiefs losing 1st and 2nd string running backs, Avery, I think Fasano a while, it becomes a question of just what plays can you can still call. Same with the D losing players – but still, how many 2 min 80 yrd TD drives did colts have in 2nd half?

        Also, I did hear Bowe say he had a fractured foot which hampered his ability to get foot down in bounds on last pass.

        Sometimes it’s not a matter of excuses but just a string of bad luck that just can’t be overcome. Sometimes there’s just not much you can do

        • Daniel Mayfield

          I forgot about Bowes foot. Anyway. It was still 1 heck of a game all the way to the end. Gotta give them credit for that.

      • Suzi Conger

        Incorrect; Smith did NOT overthrow CGray… ” I slowed up in my route, no overthrow by Alex” post game lockerroom interview by CGray (plus many of us Chiefs’ fans saw it). The BIG question is, Why did AReid even use CGray when 6 other tried and true receivers were available (AJJ was the only receiver (available) that had not scored TD’s this season) ?… a third string rookie that had never practiced ONE snap with Alex previously…poor judgement on reids
        ‘s part. Beautiful pass to bowe; however he came down oob. To put up 44PTS WITHOUT JCharles, Avery (remember the 79 yd TD pass), and eventually kdavis was #1 QB-ing on Alex’s part. Alex is #1 Ranked Post-Season nfl QB (108.+).

        I agree with you, the injuries hurt the win success, however, our D died, with or without injuries; they achieved a nfl (tied tor) first in history allowing the biggest comeback…that loss definately was on the Defense, not offense (‘everyone’ knows that our D started collapsing with browns/bills games and especially after the bye.. they repeatedly got burned and executed very little pressure/sacks on opposing QB’s… maybe due to sutton’s lack of adjustments?

        • Daniel Mayfield

          It was said that Alex took the blame for over throwing Cyrus. Anyway, the defense did start to dropping after the bye week.
          It’s like they just didn’t care how the D was because how well they were before. Maybe they just focused on the offense. The D pretty much fell off a cliff but the offense climbed a mountain. Go figure.

          Still, a much MUCH better team then before.

          • Mark Souza

            And Gray took blame in slowing his route.. they both took responsibility for their part in the play. Sounds like an awesome team to be on

          • Daniel Mayfield

            Yeah, both are on the “same page”. Instead of pointing fingers/blaming each other. There’s some good teammates there.

        • micah stephenson

          O dam! Look who’s back. Its Ass11′s X something.

          • Suzi Conger

            inane lame ignorant (fb/qb uneducated) statements…sigh; some things never change

  • Daniel Mayfield

    Smith is a great QB for the team. Very mobile and smart. Nobody is perfect though, so don’t get that in your mind.
    There was hardly any turnovers last yr and I hope it goes the same way for 2014.

  • trinity

    I highly doubt they will be going to the superbowl with alex smith under center.

    • berttheclock

      Yeah, you need a real rootin’ tootin’ Bombs Away Gun Slinger such as Russell Wilson, eh? Oops, Wilson is a game manager. You have become a micah clone.

      • trinity

        Wilson is more versatile, has a better defense to lean on, and doesn’t play in division where he is the 3rd best quarterback. Lol and at least that’s two of us who sees things clearly.

        • berttheclock

          Look, you and micah hooked up on the thread asking if the Chiefs made the right choice in trading for Smith. The vote was over whelming in favor of bringing him here. Only the two of you were against that trade and you made a wrongful statement that he had had 8 mediocre years with the Niners. You did not have a clue as to what Smith was thrown into after being drafted in 2005. The Niners were one of the worst teams in the NFL for a period of 3 years. They had no offensive line. They did not have quality receivers and Vernon Davis was just learning how to play the NFL game. Add that to a yearly change in OCs with Jimmy Raye being added to the mix where he would have Gore run into the line for two straight plays, then, ask Smith to try to bail them out on a 3rd and long. Smith was thrown to the wolves in the second half of his first year, then, suffered an injury in his second season, forced to ride the bench behind two new QBs brought in and when they both failed, he was asked to return to starting. Smith fought his way through all of this to emerge as a very fine QB who was within a fumble by another of taking his team to the SB. This is a young man who was honed through adversity and is, finally, being allowed to show his true steel and grit

          • berttheclock

            BTW, after Rodgers was drafted the same year, he had the luxury of sitting behind Favre and learning. He was not asked to play for 3 years and when he came into play, he had a solid team filled with quality receivers to work with. I really wonder how Rodgers would have fared had he been picked by the Niners and thrown in behind such a terrible offensive line with no wide outs of note.

          • trinity

            This is an argument that I don’t understand. It’s not Alex’s fault because he was thrown to the wolves? Well guess what? Every single high draft pick is thrown to the wolves. Only the bad teams draft early, remember? It starts as worst with first pick, all the way down to best with last pick. No number one overall pick is going into an ideal situation. Andrew luck went to the 2-14 colts who still had Peyton manning hangover. He made an immediate impact. Some players have the talent to turn things around. Some players don’t, and they have to be led as opposed to leading.

          • berttheclock

            No, Aaron Rodgers was taken at 24 in that same draft and was allowed to ride the bench for three years. BTW, it was not just adding Luck that worked. Grigson brought in many new players and Luck was able to work with a completely different group than the one from the year before. So, don’t try to place all of that on Luck. He was given tools to work with. Alex Smith’s problem was akin to that of David Carr being taken high and forced to play behind a terrible offensive line.

            I saw a talented Rick Mirer taken very high and forced to play behind an atrocious offensive line in Seattle. Flores, as former QB was the HC and didn’t want to use him, but, the owner, Behring, who didn’t know a thing about football, said he had paid for him and he wanted him on the field. They even tried quick 3 step throws, but, he ended up being forced to run for his life and, ultimately, was injured, both physically, but, mentally. He never was the same again. They even tried play a top rated QB out of Florida and he ended up being destroyed as well. When, Hassleback came over from GB, the Seahawks had the finest LT in the game, Walter Jones, and the massive road grader Hutch at OG to block for him and the Seahawks went to the SB for the first time.

          • trinity

            No it certainly wasn’t all on Andrew luck, but I’m sure we can all agree that quarterback is the most important position on the field. The colts organization could have brought in whomever they wanted, and it wouldn’t have mattered if the quarterback could not get it done. As I said, he made an impact. Some situations are better than others, but there is no ideal situation at 1st overall. I bring up first because that’s where alex was taken, so i don’t care about Aaron Rogers career path in relation to this.

            The best thing that ever happened to alex was harbaugh arriving. You sad it yourself. Young defense, and receiving not up to par. That made alex have to be the leader of the team, and that’s not who he is. His career was an embarrassment, and an epic failure, and then in came harbaugh. Who basically took it out of Alex’s hands, emphasized building an elite defense, and simplifying the playbook so alex would not be asked to do things he can’t do well. He started playing not to lose, and letting the defense get it done for him. Harbaugh turned him into the best he could be, which is a game manager who isn’t prone to meltdowns of matt schaub proportions. And hey, that’s great. I don’t see it leading him far in the playoffs though.

          • berttheclock

            You can’t have it both ways. You made the statement that “every single high draft pick is thrown to the wolves”, then, you write you don’t care about the path of Rodgers. Rodgers was drafted in the first round and any one taken in the first round is considered to be a high draft pick. Now, you are trying to limit “High” to just the first pick in the draft. You argument about Smith being mediocre and not a leader is completely bogus and you are becoming Opaque. You have talked yourself into this mantra for whatever reason, but, when, you write “embarrassment and an epic failure”, you have stepped in that Twilight Zone of complete lack of reasoning power. That is why you are very much a micah clone of “Please, do not attempt to confuse us with any facts”.

          • trinity

            Are you even reading what I’m saying? When I mentioned “high draft pick”, I likened him to Andrew luck because they were picked in the same place. That was my only comparison. After I sent that reply, I noticed you had written an aside about Aaron Rogers. So there’s no both ways, I don’t even know why we’re talking about Aaron Rogers lol. Maybe things would have been different if they had switched places. Maybe Aaron would have been great. There is no way of knowing, so who cares? Lets talk about things that we do know shall we?….

            Ok, alex Smith is a very efficient game manager. He’s been that way for the last few years after harbaugh, so he is consistent. What I want to know is how far you think they can get in the playoffs? I am very interested in your answer.

          • jackie

            His stats are about equal to Luck’s, and it’s you that sucks.

          • trinity

            Luck is a better quarterback. And I guess the truth hurts lol. Tell me. Where do you think the chiefs are going in the playoffs?

          • micah stephenson

            It all depends on what JC and the defense do.

          • trinity

            I agree. the offense runs through JC and they’re going to need that pass rush. Even still I don’t think it will be enough.

          • micah stephenson

            We need a qb that is more dynamic. A playmaker. Someone who can elevate the play of anyone he plays with. A qb that is comfortable winging it all over the field and is made for a high scoring offense. Alex has a limited skill set.

          • PunjabiPete

            You’re absolutely right. What we need is a Quarterback that can mitigate our terrible oline, maybe by being great at scrambling! We also need a QB who can play mistake free football and complete around 60% of his passes without laying down double digit inter- oh, wait, we already have that. Nevermind

          • trinity

            I agree. You guys have the talent to go all the way if alex wasn’t keeping you in never-ending wildcard status

          • jackie

            Luck is not a better quarterback in any meaningful sense if one goes by the statistics. Smith and Luck are equal in that regard. And the “truth” is not your opinion, which does not hurt. And then you ask for mine on the playoffs as if it had any bearing on the truth. But since you asked, I think the Chiefs are going deeper in the playoffs than last year. Would you like to make a wager?

          • PunjabiPete

            I’ll give you the fact that Alex Smith lacks the arm strength of the elite quarterbacks. So does Peyton Manning at this point, and he broke records. I honestly think we could win a Superbowl with Alex Smith under center. NO QB can win a Superbowl by himself. Peyton Manning NEEDS Eric Decker, Demerius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Knowshon Moreno, and that beast of an o-line to win games. Philip Rivers NEEDS Larry Allen, Dorito Potatochip (you know who I’m talking about, the guy with the odd name), all the tools he has, Matthews, in order to be successful. I think the disconnect here is you are saying Alex Smith should be able to pick the entire Kansas City Chiefs franchise up on his back, Adam Sandler Longest Yard style, and win games against the best teams in the NFL. My response to that is that’s unfair, because NONE of the other QBs in the league are held to the same standard.

            Even if he’s an efficient game manager (and Manning/ Brady/ Rivers/ Roethlisberger/ Rodgers aren’t?), The last decade or so has shown that they can excel too. What’s wrong with building a team around a guy who makes smart decisions, doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, and puts forth a Herculean effort Matt Cassel style without the Matt Cassel abysmal numbers? If we get an “elite” quarterback, can we bring him in and put him at the helm of this exact same team and get different results? I say no.

          • trinity

            I just don’t get why it’s hard to get. I’m not saying Peyton doesn’t need those guys. What I am saying is that Peyton has the talent to actually utilize those guys, and even make them better than what they would be elsewhere. All I am saying is that alex Smith is not that guy. You say that they can go to the superbowl. I say that in a league where the quarterback position is the most important, the chiefs offense runs through your running back man. That is a problem. You guys do have the coaching, the running attack, and the defense to go to the superbowl. But Alex Smith is holding you back because he is simply too elementary.

          • PunjabiPete

            If he’s so elementary, then there’s 11 National Football League teams that are borderline retarded, because they couldn’t outsmart him.

          • trinity

            No, there’s 11 teams who couldn’t outsmart JC and your defense lol.

          • micah stephenson

            He he he. Lol. Manning needed the broncos? Lol. Guess he needed the colts too. And if He played for the Chiefs he would need them. Or the Jags, or cle. Lol.

          • PunjabiPete

            Um, yes, buddy (and I’m not being condescending), Peyton Manning DOES need receivers to throw to, a line to block for him, and running backs to run the ball. You wouldn’t DARE try to imply Peyton Manning could walk out on a field by himself and beat an NFL team, would you? They’d kill him. Literally. Peyton Manning also had Reggie Wayne and a host of help in Indianapolis too, and as proof that he wasn’t the only reason they were relevant, they got to the playoffs last year. So, yes, I am absolutely implying Peyton Manning needs some modicum of talent around himself to be successful.

          • KCMikeG

            How about since he took SF to a fumble away from playing in the 2011 Super Bowl that there is logical reason to believe he can do that again. This is supported by his play in 2012 and last year as the season ended ended and by his playoff performance. Or you can choose to make yourself believe that Smith is what he was years ago. Me – I’ll take today over years ago.

          • trinity

            That’s the part that baffles me! “That was supported by his play in 2012 and last year”. What play man? What play? His play was OK. not bad, not great, just solid. He simply played not to lose, and stayed out of the way while his defense and run game took care of things! You are swearing by alex Smith, but dude, your offense doesn’t even run through Alex Smith! It’s Jamal Charles offense, and that is simply the truth. Same situation before they traded him in san Francisco. Yes he had a nice loss to indy in the playoffs. Is one game enough to turn around what he has spent TEN YEARS proving about himself? No, and anyone who thinks so is simply delusional. I don’t blame you for wanting him over years past since you guys were awful. But Alex Smith leaves a lot to be desired, and you guys will be stuck in neutral with him. Watch.

          • KCMikeG

            His play leading SF to an record with the highest completion % in the NFL through then weeks. You yack on about “losing” to the Colts when he had 4TD’s and over 400 yards while ignoring his playoff win in SF because your too busy dismissing his past as a failure. First it was 8 years now it’s 10 years that he sucked. You’re just making shit up now. He has only played EIGHT SEASONS TOTAL. In a few days it will be 15 years of “not proving himself”. There is obviously no hope in saving you from your delusional world so best of luck. I’ll keep the crow warm for you.

          • trinity

            The only one who is delusional is you for thinking he is better than average. He is closing in on a decade, and the guy just is what he is. Lol it is laughable that you think otherwise. Just watch what happens :).

          • penlady

            TRINITY- CAN YOU PLEASE GO TO THE 49ERS FACEBOOK FAN PAGE RIGHT NOW AND SEE THE THREAD THE PAST FOUR DAYS OR SO OF FANS CLAMORING FOR ALEX SMITH.

            THE NFL SCHEDULE WAS OUT, AND 49ERS FANPAGE MENTIONED THE EXCITING GAME THIS NEXT SEASON BETWEEN KC AND SF… FANS ROOTED MORE FOR ALEX SMITH.

            49ERS HERE. SEASON TICKET HOLDER FOR 5 YEARS.
            TRINITY- YOU REALLY ARE EITHER RETARDED OR YOU MUST BE PAID TO BE A NUMBER 11 HATER.

            SHAME ON YOU. ALEX SMITH DESERVES ALL THE RESPECT IN NFL. IF YOU STIL LIKE TO MUDSLING, YOU MUST BE REALLY DESPERATE FOR SOMETHING

          • Suzi Conger

            perfectly said penlady

          • micah stephenson

            Amen! Preach Sista! It not rocket science, yet they act like they don’t understand.

          • trinity

            I know right lol. I don’t know where exactly they think the chiefs are going, but it’ll be home in an early round.

          • micah stephenson

            Its so predictable for our fans to accept just avg qb play. Was crazy is we not saying he is the worst, just saying is avg and not a top ten type QB. Soon as we say that they attack like the best QB in the lg. We are saying, he is avg, a game manager, and won’t win many shoot outs. I guess they saying, he all that, a top ten qb, elite qb, superbowl winning capable, ect. Now who is delusional again?

          • trinity

            I agree completely. He isn’t the worst, but he is just average. I even saw one guy on a different topic saying the chiefs could start a dynasty. With Alex Smith as quarterback! It’s total delusion lol. I respect you for being a fan, but still keeping a level head.

          • Suzi Conger

            hey micah, how’s the love of your football life, geno? now now don’t try to back-pedal. For months we listened to the fact that the chiefs should’ve hired geno smith instead of aSmith. lol snort funny

      • micah stephenson

        Wilson is on a run first team, he is real young, and has already won a superbowl. Wilson hasn’t even gotten to the rootn tootn gun slinger part yet.

        • penlady

          oh and wait, WILSON ALSO MADE PEYTON LOOK LIKE A LOSER DIDN’T HE?

    • PunjabiPete

      Ah, there you are, Micah. My day is complete.

      • trinity

        Hmm?

      • micah stephenson

        Actually I’m over here.

  • preston riley

    I watched a segment a while ago – I guess it was on NFL network – that was all sound clips from NFL head coaches. the few of Andy Reid were all directed at o-line blocking problems. He is finally heard asking his assistant coaches if there was a play the chiefs could run for which they thought the o-line could block.

  • KCMikeG

    Thanks Ben for providing this much overlooked statistic that is a critical part of the offenses success. Smith’s ability to make something out of nothing became more apparent as the season progressed. The fact that our OL was one of the 10 worst at letting the rush attack unhindered could very well be one of the reasons that three starters were allowed to walk. We had numerous injuries and position changes to overcome in addition to having a banged up rookie playing out of position, our center returning from missing all but three of the games in 2012 with only four starts prior, a time share at RG and a rotation at both tackles due to injuries. Just having a fair amount of healthy players and Fisher back at his natural position will make a big difference. Mark my words – we have only seen the beginning of how great Alex Smith will be in Reid’s system.

    • Mark Souza

      Sometimes a man being unblocked is within the scheme and the QB is responsible for the unblocked player. You see a lot of these with athletic QBs

      • KCMikeG

        Good point. Reid encourages it and Smith likes to run in those situations. Best news is that he is successful and smart when he does it.

  • Stan Colbert

    The o-line did not play well last year! Plus the three that left were the best of the seven! Alex did a great job of manufacturing plays sand keeping Chiefs in games. My biggest fear is the o-line will play worse this year! You cannot hit any receiver if a lack of time to throw exists!

  • Bryan Staley

    Micah?????? Where are you, this article is about Alex Smith…….

    • berttheclock

      Yes, but, it is a positive one.

    • PunjabiPete

      To be honest, that’s one of the main reasons I clicked on the link too

      • micah stephenson

        Lol.

    • micah stephenson

      This one slip passed me.

      • Bryan Staley

        That’s unacceptable!

        • micah stephenson

          4000+ yards will help but I need to see some great comeback wins, playoff wins, a some kinda umph from him. He has no spunk, no wow factor, he just don’t impress me.

  • berttheclock

    Even with the new o-line working to come together, I see Smith having a better year after being able to spend more time in practice getting the timing down with his receivers. Last year, he was learning to work with a new group, with the exception of Jenkins coming over from the Niners. Even then, they had little practice time together. I saw several new misses down the sidelines which showed the need for more practice, not only by Smith but by the receiver as well. I remember one pass to Avery where Avery held up and, then, had to lunge at the last moment.

  • PunjabiPete

    Preaching to the choir, my friend, and I’d be willing to be a lot of the reason he gets out of so many is because Alex Smith is a threat taking off with the ball too, so if you want to rush him, you have to have plenty of cavalry or be ready to check his heels for dirt as you huff after him.

  • Mark Souza

    This is kind of a wierd stat because with the offense the chiefs have the offensive line is often times not responsible for everybody that comes at them… sometimes the Quarterback is responsible for the unblocked man