Kansas City Chiefs: Alex Smith Faces an Uphill Battle in the City of Fountains
The San Francisco 49ers sent Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs for a second-round pick in this year's draft and a conditional pick in next years draft, per this ESPN report. Smith—who was replaced by Colin Kaepernick—started nine games at quarterback for the 49ers last year, completing over 70 percent of his passes for 1,737 yards and 13 touchdowns.
The 49ers quickly dealt Smith to the highest bidder after the postseason ended. The Chiefs, under new head coach Andy Reid, gave up the No. 34 pick in this year's draft—rationalizing that Smith was better than any quarterback they could draft at that position.
Reid told Joel Throman of SB Nation what he saw in Alex Smith that he liked.
"He's got a strong arm, he's got a great feel for the pass game, he's obviously one of the smarter quarterbacks in the National Football League. He's had to do everything at the line of scrimmage and that's something you look at from a coaching standpoint, whether it's changing protections or changing runs to passes or passes to runs or getting his team in and out of situations that end up being positive situations. He does that with ease and I say with ease, he does it with ease during the game and there's a lot of time and effort that goes into that behind the scenes, so you know he's a hard worker."
Yet Andy Reid's high praise of Alex Smith's arm may not bode well for Smith. Over the past 14 years, Andy Reid's offenses have averaged attempting 556 passes per season, while Alex Smith has never attempted more than 445 passes in a season.
It remains to be seen if Alex Smith can excel as the focal point of an offense. Smith was successful in Harbaugh's offense over the last two years, but his role was more of a "game manager" than "game changer." In his nine starts last year under Harbaugh, Smith averaged approximately 23 pass attempts per game. Conversely, over the past 14 years, Andy Reid's offenses have averaged nearly 35 pass attempts per game.
Clearly, Alex Smith's role will be expanded in Kansas City's offense. Only time will tell how Alex will handle a more featured role.
Unfortunately, Smith will not be playing alongside the talent he had in San Francisco last year.
While the 49ers had the No. 1 ranked offensive line last year according to Pro Football Focus, the Kansas City Chiefs were ranked No. 12. Additionally, next year Kansas City will be without Eric Winston—one of the better tackles in the NFL.
Kansas City's receiving corps will not be an improvement from San Francisco's either. The Chiefs' hands were not nearly as reliable as the 49ers' last year—dropping nearly 2 percent more of catchable passes according to Pro Football Focus. Fortunately for Smith, according to this ESPN report, Dwayne Bowe agreed to a five-year, $56 million deal, giving Smith a much needed go-to receiver that can consistently make big plays.
Lastly, less than 48 hours after the Alex Smith to Kansas City deal was official, the Chiefs signed Chase Daniel—a young quarterback aspiring to earn a starting job. Marc Sessier speculated on the Chiefs' move on NFL.com.
Daniel, 26, is something of a mystery because he has been hidden behind Drew Brees in New Orleans. His preseason film, however, reveals a decent arm, and it's possible new Chiefs coach Andy Reid plans to develop Daniel as a future starter. Reid's philosophy has been to stock up on passers, but it's pretty much a sure thing that none of last year's trio -- Cassel, Brady Quinn and Ricky Stanzi -- will return for the Chiefs next season.
Where will the Kansas City Chiefs finish in the AFC West in 2013?
While Andy Reid's intent does not seem to be clear, it's reasonable to assume that Alex Smith will be afforded every opportunity to maintain the Chiefs' starting quarterback position. But some—including NO Saint Junior Galette—believe Daniel may give Smith a run for his money.
Chase Daniel > Alex Smith.....
— JUNIOR GALETTE (@JuniorG93) March 12, 2013
And eight minutes later he followed up with this tweet for justification.
— JUNIOR GALETTE (@JuniorG93) March 12, 2013
Needless to say, Alex Smith will have to overcome a variety of obstacles—on and off the field—to lead Kansas City to success, but if any quarterback is prepared for the challenge, then it's Alex Smith.
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