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Chiefs Alex Smith: Worth The Second, Second Look

1 Feature From The Bleachers

Yes, Alex Smith has already proven he’s worth the second round picks the Chiefs laid out to gamble on him being a winner. It’s also worth a second look because Alex Smith not only has proven to be a winner but, an even better QB than the man the team he left believed enough in to risk letting Smith walk away.

I have to admit, I’ve never been much for bicep kissing, chest pumping, “I am the greatest” proclamations and general actions that are based on self-aggrandizement. It stinks of ego gone cra-cra.

Real leaders don’t have to go there.

This is obviously in reference to Colin Kaepernick, the man the San Francisco 49ers kept and consequently decided to ship Alex Smith away. I’ve been keeping an eye on his performances ever since Alex left the Golden state and towards the end of last season, you may have heard me say several times, the Chiefs now have the better of the two QBs.

Here how each QB performed in 2013:

Kaepernick vs Smith 2013

You might assume that Kaepernick outperformed Smith in the playoffs just because he Kap and the 9ers made it to the NFC Championship game but… you’d be wrong.

Alex Smith had a playoffs passer rating of 119.7 and Kaepernick 74.0. Smith threw 4 TDs with no INTs in the lone playoff game he was in while Kaepernick threw 3 TDs and 3 INTs in 3 games.

What Alex Smith has come to mean to the Kansas City Chiefs may not be fully appreciated by doing a comparison with the QB who replaced him in San Francisco but, it does help to highlight that the Chiefs acquired themselves an excellent QB because there’s no one in the league that thinks any less than “deep thoughts” about Colin Kaepernick.

There’s more to the comparison that I like as well. Kaepernick uses his feet to run like Alex Smith does and yes, he can do that better but, that’s part of the problem with Kaepernick. He has the running QBs disease. Meaning… he’d rather solve his pocket pressure problems by running for yards than by… extending the play with his legs and then hitting a receiver downfield.

When speaking with some fans about this difference I hear the response: big deal. In some ways it’s not such a big deal after all Kaepernick is capable of putting up huge numbers with his legs alone. Take a look at his college rushing numbers… they’re eye popping.

The real problem there is… running… the way Kaepernick runs, is an ego-centric answer to a team problem. When Kap “does it by himself” he leaves other extremely talented teammates out of the loop and out of the equation… and… out in the cold statistically. Then Kaepernick’s teammates can’t possibly “feel” like they are invested in the outcome.

There’s a big difference between Fran Tarkington and Colin Kaepernick. Tark used to run to extend the play and his receivers always knew if they kept moving they’d have a chance to be part of a highlight reel play. Kaepernick runs to get down field. That’s all.

Alex Smith can… and does.. do both.

Alex Smith Collage 1b

What I really wanted to accomplish here today is to take a second look at the trade that brought Alex Smith to K.C for two number twos. With the draft coming up in three weeks it’s important to know whether or not the man the Chiefs gave away a 2nd round pick in this year’s draft… has been worth it and will be worth it in the future?

As a fan and follower of the Kansas City Chiefs since the 1960s I have a very specific opinion about the worth of Alex Smith. When you look at the long dry QB spell from Len Dawson to Joe Montana. Then, when you consider that the Chiefs got less than two years out of Mr. Montana who will will forever be immortalized and linked with the San Francisco 49ers. Then, another dry spell came and then went when Trent Green gave the Chiefs five and a half very good years. When you consider the dirty laundry list of crappy QBs to disgrace the place that Lenny once stood, you come to look at the quality QB play the Chiefs have presently in a whole new light.

Yes, Alex Smith’s presence here makes a difference. Alex Smith’s desire to be here and finish his career here… makes a difference.

There have been lots of quarterbacks who have changed their address in mid-career. So, how does our Mr. Smith stack up?

QB Comparison

* The second season, 1994, was chosen because Joe Montana only played in 11 games for the Chiefs in 1993.

When you think of QBs who have “moved on” from one team to another because there were too many roosters in the coop you have to first think of Drew Brees. He not only moved from San Diego to New Orleans and had success he’s set records and won a Super Bowl.

When comparing Drew Brees to Alex Smith the great equalizer is… the talent you’re playing around. In 2006, Brees had Deuce McAllister, Reggie Bush, Joe Horn, Devery Henderson and Marques Colston while in 2013, Alex Smith had Jamaal Charles, half of what you’d normally expect from Dwayne Bowe and was nearly tight-end-less. Yes, Brees threw for approximately 55 yards per game more in his first year with his new club than Smith did but, the weapons in the arsenal tell the real story.

By the way, I don’t expect the Chiefs to surround Alex Smith with so little next season. That’s why you can expect them to go after more than one offensive play maker in this draft.

Even Trent Green had more to work with than Alex Smith did. Green had Priest Holmes, Tony Gonzales, Eddie Kennison, Johnny Morton and Dante Hall.

The Joe Montana comparison may not be a great one as this was Montana’s very last season… although anyone who got to see him play live that year, including myself, will tell you that Joe looked a whole lot like… well… Joe Montana.

Alex Smith’s first year in coach Andy Reid’s system proved to be a learning experience. If you give him a the month of September to settle into the system… since that point his performance has been on a steady progressive climb.

Alex Smiths Passer Rating

The Indianapolis game represented here is the playoff game since Alex didn’t play in the last game of the season like most starters.

The trend shows that Alex Smith is an ascending QB and if he keeps this up he’ll break into the top ten in the league. Right now I’d place him in the top 12. Alex Smith was a first pick in the draft. Has he lived up to that yet? Not really but it looks like he’s on his way.

A few weeks ago, Reid Ferrin interviewed Andy Reid at the NFL Owner’s Meetings and coach Reid had this to say of Smith,

I don’t think you know a player until you have him. You do all your homework. But until you get him there, you don’t realize. You’ve heard he’s a great leader, but until you get him and work with him, you don’t know that. You’ve heard about his strengths and weaknesses as a player, but until you get him and he’s doing your stuff, I don’t think you figure that out completely. I loved his accuracy.

I wasn’t aware, before Smith arrived in K.C., that he was as accurate as he has been. I admit that a year ago it took a long time to give up my personal preference for Geno Smith. Smith’s steady performances changed my mind as much as meeting him at training camp did.

Now, I’m sure that the one play Smith was not accurate on… his overthrown ball to Cyrus Gray in the playoff game… is the very play that sticks in Smith’s head.

Alex Smith Collage 2

Andy Reid went on in his sit down with Reid Ferrin to say more about Alex Smith,

I love his want-to to be great. I love the way he took things over and challenged everybody around him and not in a boisterous manner but just by leading by example and teaching on the field. I appreciated his whole game. His approach to the game raised the whole team. He’s a gym rat. You’ve got to kick him out of the building. I was almost on secret double probation his first week in the building, because he wanted to stay there forever and I’d have to kick him out. I said, ‘You gotta go.’ That’s how he approaches the game.

Alex Smith reminds me of a quote on leadership I heard when I was a kid,

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.

~Albert Schweitzer

When it’s all said and done, Alex Smith could end up being the best QB the Chiefs organization has ever had. Obviously that will take some time. However, it looks like we’re going to get to see Alex’ time unfold before our very eyes.

It’s Alex’ time. Let enjoy this. It’s going to be a heck of a ride.

So Addict fans, are you an Alex supporter or are you planning a first round QB selection in your own personal mock draft?

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