The Alex Smith Effect


Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Trivia time, boys and girls:

Q. Who was the last starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs to win a playoff game?

A. Elvis Grbac

I hope the question didn’t confuse you. We all know Joe Montana was the last starting quarterback to win a playoff game for the Chiefs. I was actually looking for the last starter (at quarterback) to win a postseason game with any team. That’s even more significant than the former factoid. Kansas City hasn’t had a leader experienced with postseason success for more than a decade. Grbac hasn’t been on the Chiefs’ roster in 13 years (2000 was his final season with the team). Is it any wonder that the Chiefs haven’t won a meaningful game in January over that stretch?

Like it or not, Alex Smith is the new starting quarterback for this franchise. There’s plenty you can say to disparage the man as a football player, but he has won in the postseason. His performances in those playoff games two years ago weren’t an aberration. Smith played well enough in those two games for San Francisco to advance. He posted a 101 passer rating that postseason, throwing five touchdowns and no interceptions. I think that experience will aid the new-look Kansas City Chiefs.

Yesterday, I watched the April 4th episode of Chiefs Live and Alex Smith’s comments about Kansas City’s first voluntary workout of the offseason struck a chord with me:

"You have to treat every day like a sprint, work as hard as you can to get better each and every day and keep stacking days together."

Smith knows how important a flashpoint the early offseason workouts are along the trajectory of an NFL season. He understands how a viable contender ought to prepare. Starting today, the Chiefs will embark upon a three-day voluntary minicamp. I’m persuaded that having the leader of your football team bring that to the table will aid the Chiefs in maximizing these workouts. That kind of leadership has been missing in Kansas City since Bill Clinton was in office. Think about that for a second.

I should clarify my intent here. I’m not in any position right now to say that the acquisition of Alex Smith will pay postseason dividends. I just don’t know that yet, but I am convinced that he’s a great fit for this team. Smith is poised under pressure, he can slide around in the pocket, will deliver the ball accurately on short-to-intermediate throws, take care of the football, and will make prudent decisions on where to throw the ball more often than not. All of that will be beneficial to head coach Andy Reid’s WCO system. Every coach wants to bring a winning culture to an organization mired in mediocrity, but that’s hard to do when your ace in the hole doesn’t know what that looks like.

Smith can be an effective leader for this group because he’s been exposed to the championship-caliber football they’re now aspiring to. There’s been endless talk about Reid’s postseason resume, but he’s not a player and won’t be in the trenches when the real bullets start flying. Players also look to their peers for guidance and Smith, at the most important position on the field, can provide that. Whether or not it will translate to the field remains to be seen. This team has a long way to go before they can be taken seriously. For now, I’m persuaded that Smith will impart just how important these workouts can be to building the kind of team that can win January football games.

Next week we’ll jump back into draft coverage and I’ll have my final predictions ready.

Until then, Addicts!