Will the real Alex Smith please stand up?

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Nov 22, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) throws a pass during the second half of the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Kansas City won 33-3. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

A few things have changed in recent weeks that are paying off for the Chiefs offense. Smith has noticeably relaxed and has gone back to his instincts when under pressure. He has been a more productive runner and he’s become more aggressive in using his ability to hurt the defense, rather than just escape the play and re-group. In the last four games, Smith is averaging 7.5 yards per carry and 45 yards rushing per game.

The biggest change for Smith on Sunday was the deep ball. Smith had hinted at it against San Diego with a pair of longer throws targeted for Albert Wilson. Against the Bills and their man-cover scheme, Smith tool the leash off altogether. The patchwork offensive line gave Smith the time to setup and he took advantage of it.

Smith took shots; and not just the intermediate crossing route he’s used in the past. Targeting Jeremy Maclin on each of his long passes of the day, Smith sent the ball flying. On the three long passes to Maclin, the ball traveled through the air 41, 40 and 38 yards respectively. Smith has been criticized for his lack of downfield attack. Some have theorized he just can’t get the ball out that far. That has now been proven false, at least against the Bills.

Smith was zeroed in on Maclin for a large portion of the game and targeted Maclin for big plays.  But he wasn’t alone.  Smith made attempts to Jason Avant and Albert Wilson on longer routes down the field. He made a very impressive throw on post route to Chris Conley that was six inches short of spectacular. That particular play showcased Conley’s talents despite coming up short. Overall, Smith is trusting his playmakers more each week.

Trust is imperative, but Reid doesn’t need or want Smith to be the carry-the-load deep ball touchdown maker. Honestly, he can’t be.  One of Maclin’s long receptions came on a grossly underthrown ball. It looked like the passes Peyton Manning was throwing at the Chiefs secondary a few weeks ago. Passes like that will eventually lead to turnovers.

Reid wants an efficient offense that can exploit the deep passing attack when needed, not as a staple. For the first time this season and possibly since becoming a Chief, Smith is playing up to what Reid been looking for.

Next: Can Smith continue this Deep Attack?