Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) on the sidelines during the second quarter of the 2013 AFC wild card playoff football game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Smith proves he’s a guy you can win with, not a problem

It seemed like everything was going against the Kansas City Chiefs yesterday, and they lost a few key players to injury during their 45-44 loss to the Indianapolis Colts that showcased incredible performances from Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton in the Colts 28-point comeback. But Chiefs fans know in their hearts that they likely would have won this game had Jamaal Charles and Brandon Flowers not gone down with injuries (Knile Davis, too), and Charles’s injury very early in the game was definitely a back-breaker for the Chiefs that swung the game later on for the Colts. I mean, it’s telling when Alex Smith was your most potent rushing threat, right? There’s a reason why Charles has been an OPOY or even MVP candidate for some, and that’s because he has been so important for the Chiefs.

Alex Smith tried his best to make us all forget about Charles’s importance, and it’s a shame that people spend so much time dragging Smith through the mud. He’s actually a pretty good quarterback, and it’s annoying to see how little credit he gets for the Chiefs major turn-around. Remember Matt Cassel? Remember him? You can call Smith a “noodle arm” or “game manager” as much as you want, and those kinds of folks are the same ones who aren’t willing to admit just how good Smith looked yesterday.

30-46, 378 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs. That’s the stat line Smith put up, and usually your team wins when your starting quarterback plays like that, and Smith was certainly excellent yesterday. Unfortunately, the only WR who was excellent was Dwayne Bowe (he stepped up big-time), and the defense was far from excellent. I mean, how on earth do you allow the only legitimate receiving threat on the other team get 224 yards? Where was the deep coverage? You had to know going into the game that Hilton is a monster who can make big plays, and the Chiefs still couldn’t stop him from mauling them for over 200 yards.

Anyway, it’s funny how little credit a few fans are giving to Smith, and it’s a crying shame; it’s been the same story all year long. I know most people give Smith his due, but it’s crazy how his performances in big games this year haven’t been praised as much as they should. I mean, he did everything he could to get the Chiefs past the Denver Broncos, and he didn’t deserve to be on the losing side of a close game yesterday with his near-flawless performance. Yes, he fumbled the ball, but that was really his only mistake. Smith was excellent in every sense of the word, and he had 57 yards on eight carries to help keep the Chiefs drives going at times.

I think the Chiefs biggest needs this offseason are to get a better free safety and to get a better wide receiver, with the latter being the most important. I mean, Alex Smith isn’t the problem at all when the Chiefs passing attack stalls; he’s solid and does what he can. The issue for the Chiefs offense is the fact that they only have one legitimate pass-catching threat in Dwayne Bowe, who is probably a No. 2 WR or at least needs a strong No. 2 WR opposite of him in order to be a No. 1 guy. The Chiefs desperately need to give Smith a better starting wideout than Donnie Avery, who is arguably the worst starting receiver in the game and is the epitome of unreliability. While he has speed to burn and can make the occasional big play (he had a 79-yard TD catch yesterday), the fact that his big TD was his only reception at all yesterday just shows you how bad he is as a starting option. Smith doesn’t have much to work with in the passing game, and that’s what makes his big games like yesterday’s even more impressive. So don’t even think of blaming Smith at all for yesterday’s 45-44 loss, unless if you want to look like a fool (and yes, there are people doing this on Twitter, with some experts voicing agreement).

And the argument that you can’t win with Smith? Bull, look at how good the 2011 San Francisco 49ers were and look at how good this year’s Chiefs were despite having well below-average receivers. Charles is a great pass-catcher out of the backfield, but that’s not enough. I’m not saying Smith is the greatest quarterback and he’s actually exactly what I think of when I say “average quarterback”, but you can win with him. And, more importantly, he’s made the most out of below-average targets. Don’t believe me? Look at the receivers that the other playoff teams have, because it’s clear that the Chiefs had the worst receivers of any playoff team.

Tags: Alex Smith Kansas City Chiefs Notes And Analysis

  • paul pace

    Good article with some valid points. I totally agree that the Chiefs need to go out and get a premier receiver and need to improve their defensive backs, such as getting Lewis out of there! Lewis can’t cover nor tackle and has very little speed. He is a liability and needs to be replaced. Also, D. Robinson isn’t much better with a question mark on Sean Smith. Smith is up and down so I don’t know what to make of him just yet. He has the size to be a beast for a corner but his coverage skills are questionable. So the off season should be interesting to watch on how they improve their defensive backfield because it definitely needs some fine tuning. If the Chiefs get a top quality receiver and improve their def backfield then this team will be ready to go next year.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Dunta Robinson has been washed up for several years now, and I was highly critical of the signing when it happened in the offseason. Sean Smith is a very hit-or-miss CB who is either going to play lights-out or will suck. He’s very talented, but he’s also inconsistent and burn-prone. That said, Smith was the team’s best CB this season, and he’s too talented not to stick with imo. Lewis needs to be upgraded, and I think FS is a priority for the Chiefs in the offseason.

      But yes, the biggest need for the Chiefs is a No. 1 receiver, because I only view Bowe as a No. 2 . Bowe’s solid, but, as we saw this year, he can’t carry the passing attack as the No. 1 option, unless if he has a very good No. 2 next to him. Avery? He’s a terrible No. 2 option.

      • paul pace

        Joe, your right on with Sean Smith. Either he brings his A-game and is a shut down corner or he is getting beat and out jumped. The problem is you never know what corner is going to show up game day. But, I will agree he has a lot of talent and that the Chiefs need to stick with him for at least another season. But, I think we can all agree on that Lewis needs to go because his tackling skills are worse than his cover skills which are pretty bad.

        • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

          Smith did the exact same thing in Miami haha, he hasn’t changed. He was amazing in 2010 and played like a shutdown corner, but he was awful in 2011 and got burned like crazy. Last season, he showed both his 2010 and 2011 form in the same year, and it was tough to get a read on him. I think he played his best ball in 2013 since that 2010 season, and the Chiefs have used him well this year. He’s difficult to trust and definitely isn’t a No. 1 CB, but he’s a very good No. 2 option.

  • Joshua McEwen

    The Chiefs need a WR of TE that is always there for Smith to throw to. In last night game, I thought the injury’s importance were in this order: Flowers, Avery, Davis, Houston, and Charles. When Flowers left our pass-D exposed with out his leadership, Avery look good before he left the game. He is better for the team than AJ. Davis is over Charles because he play out of his mind and even thought he only had 60 so rush yard, he became a major player showing why Reid chose him over Franklin in the draft. Houston is fourth because of how late he came out. The thing that the Chiefs missed from Charles the most is his pass blocking, which Davis did a very good job of that. The biggest thing out of that games was that the Chiefs could not fight the big motivation swing. The big play were nice but they came at the wrong time and where too early. The Chiefs showed ability to make big play but the need more. The Chiefs needed a dagger of a play to finally beat the Colts and that play just didn’t happen and it showed.

    • Dustin Joyce

      I won’t call you crazy, but Charles has to be no. 1. Davis did really good, but what you need in a lead is ability to run for first downs and sustain long drives that run the clock. Charles is the key to that. He averages a first down every 3 plays with his career yards per carry for crying out loud. I’m just gonna assume you were trying to say something different for different’s sake

    • JimHarbaughsguys

      You’re right. Alex’s best passing is down the middle of the field. Even though he put quite a few nice sideline passes together this year, the middle is where Alex is most comfortable.

      And the middle is where TE’s rule the game. Give Alex that. In exchange for a new WR even. And he will have a security blanket down the middle where he is best. Want to improve your offense with one move? Do that, and the redzone #’s will go thru the roof.

  • PGA GM

    AS11 is our leader and will lead us for the coming years. Needs FS, WR help

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Agreed, WR and then FS are the team’s two biggest needs.

      • JimHarbaughsguys

        Forget about WR right now. Bowe is an overpaid cry baby who can’t get 2 feet in bounds on the biggest play of his life, and Avery dropped a lot of balls, but he’s got a lot of speed. If he ins’t hurt, the Chiefs can keep going to that deep pass since he burned the Indy secondary.

        KC needs a TE. That is the position best equipped to score TD’s in the redzone (though that wasn’t an issue this past game). Alex’s most comfortable throwing down the middle, and that is TE territory.

  • Jacob

    Great article. I was initially against going after Alex Smith last offseason, as I wanted us to draft a QB to grow with the team. I realized I was wrong early in the season and have turned into a big fan of Alex. After yesterday’s loss, it’s really hard to pull anything positive out of it. You just want to sulk and think about how the football gods hate Chiefs fans, but when you pull yourself away from that, you can clearly see that the Chiefs are on the rise, and it’s due in no small part to Alex. He’s been an amazing QB, and I’m behind him 100%. The performance he put up yesterday just cements that fact even more.

    We have a tough schedule next year, but we’re a young team with big, but few needs. We could be elite next year, and a 10+ win season couldn’t be discounted with the schedule we’ll be facing.

    The loss hurts, fellow Chiefs fans, but after you’ve done enough sulking, look forward and keep your head held high. We are a couple players away from true Greatness.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Thanks for the kind words, Jacob. I was impressed with how the Chiefs were able to overcome some tough in-game injuries, but it was a huge disappointment to see them end up blowing the game. They did a great job of shutting down Luck for one half, and a lot went wrong for KC. That game could have went either way for them, but they really shot themselves in the foot by having an awful gameplan on defense and just downright playing horrific coverage. If the Chiefs want to play press coverage (which they should due to the strengths of their CBs), then they need better deep coverage out of their safeties.

      Smith had an 89.1 QB Rating despite having Bowe and Avery as his top two receivers, and he has always been great this year when the cards were down. This wasn’t the only big game in which he played great but was let down by bad WR and S play (talking about the team’s second meeting against the Broncos haha).

      Thanks for dropping by, and the Chiefs are definitely on the rise; Reid and Dorsey can definitely be trusted to make the right adjustments in the offseason.

  • Bill Stowers

    I agree 100% smith played lights out and was flawless. I think hes actually a very good QB if you let him be and it is trash that people still talk bad about him. I feel he will get one superbowl eventually in kansas city if they improve their talent in the positions you mentioned. Great article.

    • JimHarbaughsguys

      The two playoff games in which Alex has lost in his career were:

      1. NFC Title game. By the end of that game, he was passing the ball to guys who were on our practice squad, we were so beset with injuries. Our #1 WR (HAHA) Crabtree was singled the whole game and only caught 1 pass as he was blanketed the whole game with the Giants putting 2 or 3 on Davis all game long (yet Alex still threw him 2 TD’s).

      Injuries and some ST freak accidents is what lost that game.

      2. This game. Alex loses the best offensive weapon on the team 6 plays in, and his backup later on. KC is a running team, and they lost their 2 best RB’s. Alex threw 4 TD’s to 4 different guys and by games end, only 1 of them was left in the game.

      Injuries and horrendous D is what lost this game.

      Solve those things, and he will win you that Super Bowl.

      • Bill Stowers

        O ya i completely agree. And with that nfc championchip game you could even argue that it was just that muffed punt that lost the game. People say smith cant win in the playoffs but yet they are too blind to remember that 49ers saints game in that same season. Where smith out dueled brees completely.

        • JimHarbaughsguys

          To bring home the point of the injury demon Alex has had in the playoffs, in that title game, T. Brown, our Niner DB was playing the game of his life shutting down the WR’s on his side of the field.

          Then he gets hurt, before the Kyle Williams fumble, and we put in the new guy who played the rest of the game.

          After the Kyle fumble, the Niners D got it to 3rd and 10, and Eli passes the ball to the guy T. Brown had shut down all night long, and that is the score which put the Giants on top in the 4th before we tied it to force OT.

          Had Brown not gotten hurt, Eli has nobody to pass the ball too, and that Kyle fumble becomes a trivia question and nothing more.

          Injuries is what killed Alex in the playoffs.

      • John Walsh

        It was the two special teams “Williams” plays that cost them the game. By the time they played the Giants, the Giants were back to full strength on defense and the Niners were running out of receivers. With only two receivers to cover (Davis at TE and Crabtree), you wouldn’t expect Smith to be able to score a TD. Yet that is exactly when he did, twice to Davis in coverage. For those who say he’s afraid to throw the ball, one pass was in triple coverage, where nobody could get it but Davis.

        Not too shabby yesterday with the 79-yard bomb, most of which was air. That bodes well for the Chiefs in 2014. Just fix the defense and get some players for the secondary. BTW, it was just the coaching back there. The players were often very slow to get to the ball and even when they did get there, heard of tackling the receiver and holding on?

        Go Chiefs!

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Thanks for the kind words, Bill. What sucks for Smith is the fact that he’s rarely ever had the same coaching staff for a significant period of time, and I don’t think he’s ever had a good WR corps. Even in SF, it was Davis and Crabtree and not much else.

  • JimHarbaughsguys

    The Chiefs D sucks. Sorry, but they do. Ever since the Chargers game, when they had the chance to ice the game late and failed….elite Defenses don’t do that. An offense scores 44 points, you should win 1,000,000/1,000,000 of those game if you have a top defense.

    I don’t know why on earth the DC didn’t put 2 guys on that Hilton kid. I don’t think he was doubled the whole game. He was the only guy who could beat you, and KC allowed that to happen. The only way for Indy to win, was for them to score quickly a ton of times. And they did. Why didn’t you guys rush no more than 4, maybe 3 and make sure Hilton is covered, and gamble that the other guys won’t get enough big plays to overcome such a lead and not score 40 points? If Luck takes off to run, fine. He’s a good runner. Just as good as Alex. But no QB is going to run a team to 40+ points when the other has a huge lead unless the D just sucks.

    All the KC D had to do, was make sure Hilton was covered, and make Luck dump it off. Then tackle the guy without any free yards. They do that, Indy has to drive the length of the field, using up a lot of time, and KC wins. Simple as that.

    I know KC has some Pro-Bowlers on D, and some were hurt, but for bleeps sake, somebody has to tackle! I like Berry, but he had a horrendous game. Prime time players show up in big moments in big games. And the D, ever since the bye week hasn’t shown up at all. Flowers going down didn’t help. But Indy was doing just fine driving the length of the field and scoring with him in there as well. Same with Houston.

    I’d fire the KC DC, and get some help for pass defense. Maybe not a DB, maybe a LB who can cover and play the run with equal success helps. I don’t know. But that D of yours won’t win you any games. And if the offense scores 44 and loses, you may be going 0-16 next year. Can’t expect any better play by them. Fix that D, and Alex will win you the Super Bowl.

  • Dustin Joyce

    Alex has been better than I even expected this year, and too many fans forget you can only choose from available players. Dorsey definately got us the best available. I’m glad he is a chief, and he can be built around. The bowe observation is spot on. My only amendment would be to consider a No. 1 TE just as important as a WR in today’s game. Remember Vernon Davis and AS? We certainly have better WRs than Crabtree. Let’s draft tomorrow!!!

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      I agree with most of what you are saying, but you guys don’t have a WR who is anywhere near as good as Crabtree is.

  • penlady

    He is just not an average quarterback. now you are still wrong. Alex Smith deserves a team who can back him up. He is a GREAT QUARTERBACK- very good decisions, accurate passes, sneaky with calmness. HE IS ONE OF THE BEST FOR ME. the ones who usually actually say smith is average or below have low IQ.

  • ArrowFan

    the only play I put on AS11 was missing Grey down the sideline late for what would have be a game preserving TD. However, JC probably does catch that ball.

    • John Walsh

      Might have been a different story if Smith had worked with Grey as often as he did Charles and Davis. That’s a lot of starters to lose and still put 44 points on the board. That said, the defense let this game get away and they’ve done that in at least three of the regular season losses. Fix the defense and they should have as good a season, perhaps a better season than 2013. :)

  • jimfromkcj

    The Chiefs spend almost 13 million more for their defence than they do on their offence. Are they getting their money’s worth? They have 4 guys who are way overpaid. Jackson, Flowers,Hali and Berry. Until they get their cap under control, it will be very hard to improve this team.