Alex Smith Will Turn Kansas City Chiefs into Playoff Contenders

Bryan ShafferFeatured ColumnistFebruary 27, 2013

Alex Smith will be a difference maker if he is traded to the Chiefs
Alex Smith will be a difference maker if he is traded to the ChiefsEzra Shaw/Getty Images

Kansas City Chiefs fans are hoping that the rumors of their team's acquisition of quarterback Alex Smith are true.

Last season, the biggest problem plaguing the Chiefs was the lack of a competent quarterback. Between Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn, the Chiefs' quarterbacks threw for just 2,937 yards on a 57.5 completion percentage. That is the fewest passing yards by any team in 2012.

Smith, on the other hand, was incredibly efficient last year in the passing game. In just eight full games during 2012, Smith passed for 1,737 yards and completed at a 70.2 percent of his passes.

That completion percentage would have been best among all NFL quarterbacks if he had thrown enough passes to qualify. The 49ers were beneficiaries of Smith's play, as the team won six of those eight games.

People tend to forget that Smith is still just 28 years old. Over the past couple seasons, he has established himself as one of the better quarterbacks in the game, and is in the middle of his prime.

If Smith were to get traded, a Cassel release would likely closely follow. That would save the Chiefs $7.75 million in cap space next season, so they could be spenders and patch up some of their weaknesses.

The upgrade in the passing game would give the Chiefs a versatile offense. Running back Jamaal Charles is one of the most dynamic players at his position in the league.

Last season, the 26-year-old gained 1509 rushing yards at an efficient rate of 5.3 yards per carry. That was a big reason why the Chiefs ranked 5th in the NFL in rushing. With a good passing game to take some pressure off Charles, he should be looking at another nice season.

The Chiefs defense was not very good last year, ranking 25th in terms of points allowed. The biggest fault here was the run defense, which gave up the 27th most rushing yards per game. The Chiefs were able to adequately defend the pass, as they ranked 12th in passing yards allowed per game.

Another reason for their defensive struggles was the fault of the offense's ineptitude. Because the offense was so incapable of putting together long drives, opposing offenses got more opportunities to attack a tired Kansas City defensive unit.

New defensive coordinator Bob Sutton should help out with the defense. Sutton was a long-time coach for the New York Jets. Between 2000-12, he held various titles, including defensive coordinator, linebackers coach and assistant head coach.

The last season Sutton was the Jets' defensive coordinator, the team gave up just 94.9 rushing yards per game, forced 30 turnovers and racked up 41 sacks. He should be able to make the defensive unit in Kansas City a respectable one.

The only team who is clearly better than the Chiefs in the AFC West is the Denver Broncos. Other than that, they should have a pretty easy time against the woeful Raiders and free-falling Chargers. Oakland won just four games last season, and Philip Rivers of the Chargers seems to be regressing rather than improving at this point.

The AFC as a whole is weak. The Indianapolis Colts went 2-14 in 2011, just like the Chiefs did in 2012. A coaching change and a new quarterback brought them to 11-5 and a Wild Card berth. The Chiefs could see a similar turnaround, and could certainly vie for one of the two Wild Card spots in 2013.