How important is Alex Smith?
By Paul Foeller
I’m not saying he’s elite (whatever that means), and I’m not even saying he’s great. But what’s undeniable is that Smith can absolutely lead the Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory. I don’t just mean that in the “even Trent Dilfer won a Super Bowl” way.
I mean that in the “if he plays at least average football, this team is nearly unbeatable, and he’s usually at least average” way. What am I basing this on? In the last 39 games he’s started (that’s all the games – including the playoffs – since the start of 2014), the Chiefs are 24-3 when his QBR is 51.5 or higher, and 0-12 when it’s lower.
For those unfamiliar with the specifics of QBR, it’s a 0-100 scale, where 0 means you’ve done everything wrong, 100 means you were perfect, and 50 is average. So basically, when Smith is above average, the Chiefs are unbeatable, and when Smith is below average, they can’t win. This tells us a couple things.
The most important takeaway is that as long as Alex Smith isn’t below average (and his accuracy and decision-making alone make that unlikely), the Chiefs are one of the best teams in football. The secondary point to be made is that Smith deserves both a great deal of credit for the Chiefs wins, and an equal amount of blame for their losses. This team goes as far as he takes it.
What does that mean for this week? It means that unless the Saints magically change from the worst defense in the NFL since the beginning of last season into an above average unit, the Chiefs are almost guaranteed to win. What does it mean for the rest of the season?
For starters, it means gameplan to Alex Smith’s strengths, so that he’s above average, and the Chiefs are in the best position to win. This would entail a lot of intermediate passes, and running Spencer Ware and Jamaal Charles for a total of at least 30 carries per game to set up some play action and open up space for some quick throws.
If the Chiefs can do that successfully, they’re absolutely one of the best teams in the league – thanks in no small part to Alex Smith. He’s vitally important to the Chiefs success.