Alex Smith Was Kansas City Chiefs' Best Decision

Josh Friesen@ByJoshFriesenContributor IIIFebruary 27, 2013

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 03:  Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on from the sideline against the Baltimore Ravens during Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on February 3, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Ravens won 34-31.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

In a slew of agonizing potential quarterback decisions that included quarterbacks like Nick Foles, Matt Flynn and Geno Smith, the Chiefs went with the option that made the most sense: Alex Smith.

While I am still not thrilled at the prospect of the having the San Francisco quarterback on the Chiefs' roster, I have to remind myself that the other choices would have left me feeling less optimistic.

Chiefs' fans can criticize this trade all they want.

Did Kansas City overpay for a quarterback who was below average his first six years in the league? Perhaps. According to ESPN, the Chiefs will trade their second-round pick in this year's draft, as well as a conditional mid-round pick in 2014.

But fans have to realize how much of an upgrade this trade really is.

The Kansas City Chiefs are 9-23 in their last two years with their quarterbacks Matt Cassel, Kyle Orton, Brady Quinn and Tyler Palko. All four of them combined for 57.7 percent completion and 21 touchdowns to 28 interceptions.

In that same time frame, Smith went 19-5-1 as a starter with a 64.3 completion percentage. He also threw 30 touchdowns and only 10 picks.

I still recognize the fact that Smith's stats his first six years were not great.

In 2005, Smith's first year in the league, he barely completed 50 percent of his passes and only threw one touchdown against 11 picks. He sat out the entire 2008 season on injured reserve after it was discovered that he had a broken bone in his shoulder.

It wasn't until 2009, two years before Jim Harbaugh took over in San Francisco, that Smith really started to get better. He completed 60.5 percent of his passes while tossing 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Now those numbers won't knock you out of your chair, but they are serviceable.

What I am really interested in is Smith's production in his last two years as a 49er under Harbaugh.

In 2011, Smith threw for 3,144 yards, threw 17 touchdowns and five picks. He ended the year with a 90.7 passer rating and led the 49ers to the playoffs. In the NFL Divisional round against the New Orleans Saints, Smith threw for 299 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

If it hadn't been for a couple bad turnovers on special teams in the NFC Championship game against the New York Giants, the 49ers would have probably gone to the Superbowl.

Then came 2012 and the emergence of Colin Kaepernick.

San Francisco was 6-2. At the time, Smith was third in the NFL with a 104.1 quarterback rating and led the league with a 70 percent completion rate. Kaepernick played incredibly in Smith's absence, and he rightfully won over the starting job.

I'm sure Smith wasn't happy when he found out Kaepernick was the starter. But what did he do?

He does the exact same thing he's done over the course of his NFL career when he had to battle through defensive-minded head coaches and a carousel of offensive coordinators and quarterbacks coaches.

He champed it out.

He fought against all the criticism and worked on being the best quarterback he could be.

You know what separates good quarterbacks from great quarterbacks?

It isn't a big arm. It isn't superior pocket presence. It isn't the ability to read defenses, fit a ball through tight spaces or scramble when the defense crashes the offensive line.

It is a quarterback's character and aptitude.

How do they handle adversity? How smart are they?

For example: Russell Wilson doesn't athletically match up to Cam Newton. It isn't even close. Newton is faster, stronger and more agile. But he does not have the character and the intelligence that Wilson has. Wilson won't openly criticize the play calling like Newton did. Wilson doesn't do a Superman pose when his team is being hammered by the opponent.

It is the little things that separate these athletes.

Smith has the acumen to succeed in the NFL. All he needs is a head coach to continue to groom him. Andy Reid is able to do that.

Smith needs to be inserted into a system that has a lot of firepower and the Chiefs' offense contains an assortment of talent at nearly every position.

Is this the answer to all of Kansas City's problems? Absolutely not.

Is it guaranteed to work? No.

Does this remind everyone of when the Chiefs acquired Matt Cassel from the New England Patriots? Most definitely.

But it still makes sense; it was still the Chiefs' best option.


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