Should Chiefs fans trust Andy Reid and Alex Smith?
Coming off perhaps the most disappointing loss of 2016, Andy Reid and Alex Smith pose serious question marks for the Chiefs down the stretch.
What if I told you that there’s an NFL quarterback that throws for 230 yards per game (an 11-year career-high); has a 90.3 passer rating (better than Russel Wilson, Philip Rivers and Eli Manning); a record of 9-4; and could set a career-high in passing yards in 2016?
Those are Alex Smith’s numbers this season, but Smith has failed the Chiefs in key moments this season. There are serious doubts if he can lead Kansas City to a deep playoff run.
The perception of Smith around the league is that No.11 could never lead a team to win a Super Bowl. He needs a superior defense and special teams around him to supplement his offense.
Smith ranks 27th in ESPN’s QBR rating this season and No. 20 in yards gained per pass attempt (7.0). The only NFL QB in the playoff hunt worse than Smith in yards gained per pass attempt is Eli Manning, who sits at No. 22.
He is one of the worst quarterbacks in yards per completion (No. 26) and qualifies as 23rd in sack percentage. The Chiefs offensive line has had moments of weakness this season. However, the number of sacks shows that Smith has not been releasing the ball quick enough. Considering the Chiefs operate on an offensive attack that involves Smith releasing the ball quickly, this stat does not bode well for his supporters.
There has been some notable Smith blunders in 2016, including bad games against lesser opponents:
- Week 2, at HOU (L, 19-12): 20/37, 54.05 completion percentage, 186 passing yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, 68.1 passer rating, 5.03 yards gained per pass attempt.
- Week 7, at IND (W, 30-14): 9/19, 47.37, 127, 1 TD, 0 INT, 87 rating, 7.74 yards gained per pass attempt.
- Week 8, at CAR (W, 20-17): 25/38, 65.79, 178, 0 TD, 1 INT, 65.5 rating, 4.68 yards gained per pass attempt.
- Week 13, vs. TEN (L, 19-17): 15/28, 53.57, 163, 0 TD, 1 INT, 56.1 rating, 5.82 yards gained per pass attempt.
Kansas City’s special teams and defense has accounted for nearly 50 percent of the team’s scoring this season. Previous teams have done that in the past and gone on to win the Super Bowl, but I’m not sure that is a number to hang championship hopes on. The Chiefs haven’t scored an offensive touchdown in the second half in three weeks. Yikes.
Questionable moments for Andy Reid brings cause for concern, too. Reid’s been criticized for conservative playcalling and not using weapons Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce enough. Just last week, I wrote that Chiefs fans should appreciate what Reid has done this year, but that isn’t to say Big Red is saved from any criticism.
Kelce said postgame Sunday that Reid’s play-calling may have been too conservative in the second half. He stopped short of blaming it on the team’s loss, though.
When asked Monday about being more aggressive in the second half, Reid was cautious to say he needed to do more. “There’s situational plays and situations in games where there is a time and place for everything,” Reid said. “So, that’s how I go about it … When you don’t win the game, you’re definitely going to look at something like that.”
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This next part is where I get so confused and frustrated at Reid. A reporter asked him what Tennessee was doing to take away Hill, and Reid’s response was telling.
“I probably could have dialed him [Hill] up more–called his number a little bit more. I don’t think it was really anything that they were doing necessarily.”
That’s pretty bad from Reid. I hope he doesn’t get to the playoffs and just forget about Hill or Kelce. The effectiveness of the Chiefs offense is significantly reduced if they don’t utilize Hill and Kelce.
Smith’s interception Sunday against the Titans is eerily similar to the one in the red zone against Tampa Bay in mid-November. Smith needs to avoid deadly mistakes like that. When he doesn’t, the Chiefs lose.
You know, I bash on Smith quite a bit. I’m not a huge fan of No. 11. At the end of the day, though, we have seen flashes of some good quarterback play–wins against Denver, Atlanta and Oakland come to mind. There’s been some good, but a lot of bad, too.
So, should Chiefs Kingdom trust Smith and Reid? Don’t go all out your hope and trust, because it’s likely this team falls short. But we’ve seen just enough (barely) to think it’s possible they put things together for a playoff run.
For the Chiefs sake, I hope No. 11 gets it together this week and builds some momentum moving forward into the playoffs. Minus the blowout in Pittsburgh, the Chiefs have played well against similar competition.
Christmas night against Denver and Week 17 at San Diego are huge tests for the Chiefs but even more so for Smith and Reid. We know what the defense and special teams can do, it’s time for the offense to give us some hope for the playoffs.
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