Film Room: While Kansas City Chiefs Look For Answers, Alex Smith Isn’t The Problem

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The Root Of The Problem

Nov 30, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs center Rodney Hudson (61) lines up across from Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe (95) in the third quarter at Arrowhead Stadium. The Broncos defeated the Chiefs 29-16. The Broncos defeated the Chiefs Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Ideally, you want your offensive line, particularly one that emphasizes zone blocking, to be a chain-link fence—a synergetic whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Too often, Kansas City’s front looks like five parts to a disjointed puzzle.

Rodney Hudson, who currently grades out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 4 center, is the exception. He doesn’t garner a lot of headlines, but the veteran has played a vital role in a number of this year’s highlights (Charles’ record-setting run at San Diego, De’Anthony Thomas touchdown at San Francisco, etc.).

As for his line-mates?


Fisher is slowly but surely progressing, prompting flashbacks of his five-star Senior Bowl showing every so often. However, he’s still victimized by inexperience at times, and the lack of veteran leadership isn’t helping his cause. Harris, meanwhile, is the walking definition of erraticism. One week, he performs like a starting right tackle; the next, he’s getting bullied like a third-grade frog collector.

Also, for reasons unknown to sense, a cluster of locals have always been (and seemingly always will be) enamored with Donald Stephenson. Week after week, people scream support for the fourth-year tackle and act chronically depressed at the thought of his departure.

Last Sunday, he played throughout the latter half of the fourth quarter (12 plays) and allowed two sacks and two hurries. Thirty-three percent of his snaps resulted in Miller collapsing the pocket, and yet, his popularity is soaring.


Kansas City’s guards are its weakest links. Time and again, they latch onto defenders and prematurely commit, which is why stunts and delayed blitzes always seem to end with another stain on Smith’s jersey.

Fulton is a sixth-round rookie who plays like a [drum roll] sixth-round rookie. While he has the tools to become a solid player, he shouldn’t be tasked with on-the-job training at this stage in his career.

Starting McGlynn is like hiring a Weeble Wobble for a bouncer.

The Impact

Is Smith ever going to snipe 60-yard, sound-barrier-breaking bullets? No. Will he take a sack over heaving some “500!” prayer into coverage? Yes.

If that’s not your cup of tea, I’ll gladly point you to Chicago, where Bears fans were just burning Jay Cutler jerseys last month.

Smith, like every quarterback, needs protection. His best weapon lies between his ears, and he can’t utilize it if he’s dodging a jailbreak every other time he plants.

The last time he traveled to Arizona—something the Chiefs will be doing this week—Smith completed 18-of-19 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns. This, taken from one of my past write-ups for Bleacher Report, is how protection is supposed to look:

Broadcast angle:

Smith progresses from one side of the field to the other, making five reads—the fourth baiting Patrick Peterson—before hitting Delanie Walker in stride.

If he’s given a clean pocket, he’ll cycle through reads, find the flaw and, in all likelihood, move the chains. On the flip side, if his pocket looks like an Angry Birds uprising, you tend to see stats like these, per Grantland’s Robert Mays, the next morning:

"I’m in pain just thinking about how Alex Smith feels this morning. The Broncos sacked Smith six times last night, and hit him a total of 12 times. That’s a lot for any quarterback, but it’s even more ridiculous considering just how little Kansas City actually had the ball. The Chiefs ran only 44 plays, and 15 of those were runs. That means Smith got hit on 41 percent of his dropbacks."

Statistics provided by Pro Football Focus (subscription required).