In Defense Of Paying Alex Smith

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2. Compared with the league, he’s a middle-of-the-road quarterback.

Would it surprise you to know that when you control for quarterbacks with at least 350 attempts in 2013, Alex Smith was the league’s 11th-rated passer? I established a baseline of 300 attempts to separate Smith from quarterbacks who played less than half of the regular season (assuming a league average of 34 attempts per game). He had a higher passer rating in 2013 than Andy Dalton, Cam Newton, Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford, and Robert Griffin III. There was only a negligible difference between his passer rating and those of Colin Kaepernick, Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler, Sam Bradford, and Matt Ryan.

Fourteen quarterbacks threw more touchdowns in 2013, but only five quarterbacks who qualify, with 300 or more attempts, had a 3:1 (or better) touchdown-to-interception ratio. Alex Smith was a proud member of that quintet. Nick Foles is the only other quarterback in the league, with more than 300 passing attempts, to have fewer than 8 interceptions in 2013. According to Sporting Charts, just five quarterbacks had a better rating on the road last season. Smith was also the league’s 7th-rated passer in redzone situations. The numbers are clear — Alex Smith is one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL.

3. He doesn’t play well in big games.

Here’s his stat line from the Wildcard matchup with the Indianapolis Colts:

30-for-46 | 65.2% | 378 passing | 57 rushing | 4 TD’s | 0 INT’s | 119.7 rate

Didn’t take very long to put that one down. Still not convinced? Let me put that into perspective for you. Of the twelve quarterbacks who qualified for the postseason tournament, only Russell Wilson played a higher-rated game (in the Super Bowl). Compare the two performances and tell me which you think is superior. The best single-game performance of any quarterback in the playoffs came the starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs. Are you not entertained?

How about the stretch of games following Kansas City’s bye week? Over that 7-game span, Smith threw for more than 1,300 yards with 14 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. Once the offense settled in and hit its stride, Smith really turned it on. He was one of NFL’s top quarterbacks over the back half of the regular season. Of those 7 games, 4 of them were pivotal contests with teams that went on to clinch berths in the AFC playoff picture. In those matchups he had a better than 2:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio (7 touchdowns and 3 interceptions).

Another 3-4 seasons of Alex Smith at the helm seems like the best way to take advantage of a short window with Kansas City’s core talent. Players like Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson aren’t getting any younger. The best way to capitalize on that group of veterans is to have continuity at the most important position on the field. It’s time to get Alex Smith extended so that the front office can turn their attention to improving the overall roster and preparing for the departure of its aging stars.

What say you? Should the organization be wed to Alex Smith for the next few years? Will John Dorsey draft a quarterback high in the 2014 NFL Draft to give himself options at the end of the season? Would allowing Smith to play out his current deal be a better idea for the franchise? Use the comment section below to begin the debate (which I’m certain is coming). As always, we appreciate your readership and support.

Until next time, Addicts!