Kansas City Chiefs starting quarterback Alex Smith has consistently been labeled a “game manager” throughout his NFL career, and this certainly has been the case during his stint with the Chiefs. But while he has been criticized for doing too little to place himself among the NFL’s elite; he possesses many positive attributes that NFL starting quarterbacks today greatly lack. It’s time to debunk his reputation as a bad signal caller.
Alex Smith Is a Good Quarterback
Smith came to the Chiefs in 2013 after losing the San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback job to Colin Kaepernick the previous season and eventually being traded to the Chiefs in exchange for a second round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and a conditional pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Andy Reid made it clear right out the gate that Smith would be the Chiefs starting quarterback. Smith provided much-needed stability at the quarterback position. He immediately changed the trajectory of the franchise, spearheading an 11-5 2013 regular season campaign. Smith got the Chiefs a playoff berth after a measly 2-14 record in 2012. He was also elected to his first Pro Bowl at the end of the 2013 season. While Reid arrived the same year as Smith and was probably one of the main reasons for the team’s newfound success; it’s hard not to admire a quarterback who can win games.
While Smith is not the most exciting NFL quarterback to watch, he doesn’t turn the ball over. He is also very accurate. In 2015, his 7 interceptions thrown tied for second-to-last among NFL quarterbacks with 3,000 or more passing yards. In addition, his 65.3% completion percentage in 2015 tied for ninth among all NFL quarterbacks. The 77% completion percentage in the Wild Card game against the Houston Texans this past season was a Chiefs post-season record. Of course, you have to take into account that the reason for Smith’s efficiency is that he doesn’t take very many shots down field. In Reid’s offense, fortunately he doesn’t have to.
It’s also important to realize how effective Smith can be with his feet. While he doesn’t have the reputation of a dual-threat quarterback, he has shown that he can take off if he needs to. In 2015, he averaged 29 rushing yards per game and 5.9 yards per rush. His scrambles make up for times he is unable to throw the ball over the top to a receiver.
Before Saturday’s game against the Chicago Bears, Smith had a very impressive 130.5 quarterback rating in preseason competition. Smith has only improved with age. Even at 32 years old, it’s reasonable to believe 2016 could be his best season yet. The bottom line: Smith doesn’t have the strongest arm and by no means is as mobile as Cam Newton, but the Chiefs would be hard-pressed to find a better option, especially now that he is in his fourth year with the team. Smith can be a franchise quarterback in the right system, and it appears he’s found just that.