Instant Reaction: Alex Smith Is A Tough Son Of Gun
By Ben Nielsen
Question: Is there any Chiefs quarterback of the last 20 years that could have dealt with what Alex Smith did today and still kept the Chiefs in a position to win the game?
Trent Green, the Chiefs last good quarterback, had one of the best offensive lines in NFL history in front of him. Do you think he survives the first half with the 2014 version of the Chiefs offensive line in front him?
Think Steven Bono or Elvis Grbac lead us to victory? Heck, what about the elderly version of Joe Montana, does he get it done?
It is hard to think that beyond Len Dawson, no other Chiefs quarterback could have taken the abuse Alex Smith did today and survived, let alone win the game.
Listen, this isn’t a ‘Alex Smith is a great quarterback’ post. Smith isn’t the ideal when it comes to drawing up the perfect quarterback.
People will point to his lack of ability or willingness to throw the ball down the field; how conservative he is with the ball and that holds the Chiefs offense back; complain about his contract and how Smith isn’t worth the amount of money his is getting paid.
I get it.
He’s a game-manager. He’s not good enough to win a Super Bowl. He’s not the long-term solution for the Chiefs. He’s not Andrew Luck. He is everything you wouldn’t imagine when building a quarterback that would lead the Chiefs to a championship.
Alex Smith is not a perfect quarterback, but damn if he’s not one of the toughest quarterbacks in Chiefs history. Hate on Smith if you wish, and criticize the tools he brings to the team, but do not challenge his desire to win football games for the Chiefs –
Your Kansas City Chiefs.
As an analytical person, I’m always skeptical of the idea of ‘team chemistry’ or a player’s ‘will to win’ because it is so hard to quantify. Talent generally trumps ‘heart’ when it comes to winning football games, baseball games, basketball games, or whatever sport is being played. It is much easier to argue winning builds team chemistry than just having a bunch of good guys and hard workers in a locker room.
However, this doesn’t mean mental and physical toughness doesn’t matter. There is something about ‘want to’ that plays a role in a team’s success while trying to grind through a physically demanding season. When the Chiefs were 0-2 and facing a daunting schedule, laying over and quitting would have been the easy thing to do, especially after lost so many players due to injury. Instead, the Chiefs manned up and took the challenge head on.
All of that starts with Alex Smith, the unquestioned leader of this football team.
Smith was crushed all afternoon against Buffalo. He was sacked six times, hit a dozen more times, and was running for his life on about every other play where he wasn’t sacked or knocked to the ground.
Kansas City’s offensive line couldn’t stop Buffalo’s defensive line, let alone their front seven. There were at times multiple Bills in the backfield in less than a second. Jamaal Charles would get a handoff and three Bills defenders were there to greet him. More than once Mike McGlynn was seen chasing defenders almost instantaneously after the ball was snapped.
Three full quarters of this kind of punishment for Smith. No one to come in and give him a breather, no one to come pick him up, no hall of fame offensive line to save the day. He was on his own to make something happen. And then, after a gift turnover from the Bills on their own 26-yard line, the Chiefs found themselves in a first and goal situation midway through the fourth quarter.
What did Alex Smith do? Pay Buffalo back.
Three and a half quarters of taking crushing blow after crushing blow and Smith responds by running over a Bills defensive back.
All heart, all will to win, all things you can’t quantify but still matter.
You don’t have to think Smith is a ‘top 10 quarterback’ or a ‘franchise quarterback’ but you have to respect what Smith has brought to this team. He’s done everything he’s been asked to do without a Philip Rivers-like pout fest. All he does is come to play, do his job, and help his team win football games.
The Chiefs are now 6-3 even though: Derrick Johnson, Mike DeVito, Sanders Commings, Mike Catapano, Joe McKnight, and Jeff Allen are on the injured reserve; Jamaal Charles, Donald Stephenson, Dwayne Bowe, Eric Berry, and Donnie Avery have missed time to either suspension or injury; the schedule is one of the toughest in the NFL. Smith is a big part of that 6-3 record and deserves some credit for his role in pulling the Chiefs out of oblivion and into the driver’s seat of a wild card spot.
Go ahead and hate on Smith, just make sure you’re prepared to get trucked when he’s on his way towards destroying your narrative about him.