Alex Smith doesn’t deserve blame for this Chiefs playoff meltdown

KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 06: Quarterback Alex Smith
KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 06: Quarterback Alex Smith /

Alex Smith had the best season of his career in 2017 knowing that it would likely be his last in Kansas City only to fall short once again.

The talk around the Kansas City Chiefs has been primarily about quarterback Alex Smith and newly drafted quarterback Patrick Mahomes this season. The Chiefs decided to trade up in the NFL draft to select Mahomes for the future of the franchise. There was no hidden truth that Smith was not getting the job done once it came time for the playoffs.

Smith talked before the season about being somewhat surprised and how the pick lit a fire under him. We saw some of this throughout the 2017 season as Smith was much more aggressive downfield, something that the Chiefs had been lacking with Smith in previous years. Alex was one of the best-rated quarterbacks when throwing the ball deep (20-plus yards).

Finishing the season with a career-high 4,042 yards, Smith looked to be a new quarterback. While he improved his deep ball, he also improved his other stats as well. His touchdown passes went from 15 to 26 in 2017, while his interceptions fell from 8 to 5. It was, all around, a very good year for Smith.

Then came the playoffs…

We all know that Smith can do well in the regular season, but the problem for Smith and the Chiefs have been the postseason. Saturday’s game was no different. The Chiefs lost to the Tennessee Titans in typical Chiefs postseason fashion. If there was a definition for Chiefs in the playoffs, you would probably just give a recap of this game.

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Smith came out looking great starting off the game throwing 19/23, 231 yards and 2 touchdowns in the first half. Nothing new there, watching the Chiefs start off a game strong. The problem is the second half for the Chiefs. Head coach Andy Reid mentioned before the game that they had a chance to put the Titans away last year with their 14-0 lead but didn’t. This was the same case except it went from 21-3 to losing by a single point.

There’s plenty of blame to go around in this game, but I surprisingly don’t feel that Smith deserves much of it. There were a few plays that could have been better on his part but that’s any game for any player. Smith threw 5/10 for 33 yards in the second half but that was more due to play calling and dropped passes.

Alex showed his panic tonight, however, in the second half when running straight up into the pocket instead of taking a step forward multiple times—resulting in sacks. His eyes dropped too many times instead of buying time for the play to develop. Even with these mistakes, Smith played a good game. Throws on third and fourth downs that were dropped hurt this offense when they needed to convert.

Backup tight end Orson Charles dropped a crucial pass on third and short late in the game that resulted in a punt. Wide receiver Albert Wilson jumped a little too early and missed a deep pass over the middle on fourth down to end the game. These were just two plays where Smith delivered the pass on the money but the receivers couldn’t haul it in. Even wide receiver Tyreek Hill has multiple drops on the night, including the very first deep throw to him along the left sideline.

Even though I’m frustrated with yet another brutal loss in the playoffs, I don’t put this one on Smith. There are too many other issues that went on and Smith overall played a pretty good game.