Do the Kansas City Chiefs have their next Len Dawson?

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Nov 16, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) rolls out to pass against the Seattle Seahawks in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

When Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was first introduced at the beginning of the 2013 offseason, he didn’t say anything about the quarterback position other than one goal he had set:

"“The quarterback position, I’m going to dig in and look at that and we’ll build that thing. We’ll see how that whole thing builds out… I’ve got to find that next Len Dawson, doggone it.”"

Coach Reid was referring to the Chiefs’ Hall of Fame quarterback and only Super Bowl winner, Len Dawson.

Reid also said that quarterback of the future could be on the roster already- with Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn and Ricky Stanzi rounding out the roster- which was and is a rather hilarious comment. 

In the ensuing offseason moves, Reid and fellow newcomer general manager John Dorsey cut Cassel, allowed Quinn to leave in free agency, and then cut Stanzi during preseason. So who would lead Kansas City in 2013?

That honor fell to Alex Smith, a 2005 first-overall pick coming over from the San Francisco 49ers in a trade for a pair of second-round picks.

Over Smith’s eight seasons in San Francisco, he experienced essentially zero continuity: five head coaches and seven offensive coordinators.

It was Smith’s seventh season in 2011- with new head coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman- that he first learned and implemented the West Coast offense. It was continuously remarked, noticed, and/or implied that Smith showed marked improvement, especially in his intangibles and leadership.

Although he had never consistently put up gaudy numbers like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or Peyton Manning, Smith was credited with managing the game to victory. Smith began to show that he was capable of putting up Manning-style numbers and drives in his last two seasons, especially in the playoffs.

For Smith, 2012 was the first season San Francisco had the same head coach and offensive coordinator the whole campaign. After a Monday night against the Arizona Cardinals, in which Smith was 18-of-19 for 232 yards and three touchdowns, he was ranked third in the NFL in passer rating (104.1), led the league in completion percentage (70%) and was 19-5 under head coach Jim Harbaugh.

The following game against the Rams, Smith suffered a concussion, but didn’t come out until he threw a touchdown pass with blurry vision. He never regained the starting job, losing it to his promising backup – Colin Kaepernick.  Smith set multiple franchise records while with the San Francisco 49ers:

Most game winning drives in a single season: 6 (2011)

Most 4th quarter comeback wins in a single season: 6 (2011)

Fewest interceptions in a single season: 5 in 2011 (16 starts)

Most consecutive pass attempts without an interception: 249 (previous record: 184, Steve Young)

Mind you, he set those records at a franchise that boasts two very well known, Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks in Steve Young and Joe Montana in its history.

In Smith’s first season as the quarterback of Kansas City, he orchestrated the biggest single-season turn around in franchise history. Many of the coaches and teammates said Smith has a very high football IQ and that his accuracy in passing was the best many had ever seen.

Matt Nagy, the quarterbacks coach for the Chiefs, said Smith is “super intelligent” and has all the intangibles that he looks for. Reid is well known for being a quarterback guru, and he loves Smith as a person and player.

In their first two seasons in Kansas City, Dorsey and Reid are the winningest administration in Chiefs history, all with Smith at the helm. That’s about all that can be said in a positive way for Smith, so lets move on to the backups.

Next: Diamonds in the rough?