After leading the Kansas City Chiefs to the playoffs and enjoying a strong 2013 campaign overall, quarterback Alex Smith has been signed to an extension, the team announced:
Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star provides contract details:
The Chiefs provided comments from general manager John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid in the team's official release on the contract.
"It was a priority of ours to get this deal done and keep Alex in a Chiefs uniform long-term,” Dorsey said. “Alex is a proven leader on and off the field. He is a special individual with a lot of ability, and we are fortunate to have him here.”
“John and his staff along with Tom and his group have worked hard to get this deal done. They’ve done a nice job,” Reid said. “Alex is a smart, talented football player that has adapted well to our offensive scheme.
"He also, obviously, has had a tremendous amount of success as a quarterback in this league. We as a team are very happy to have Alex as our quarterback moving forward."
The extension is a good sign for all involved. Smith and the Chiefs had been working on the new deal throughout the offseason. Smith said in late July, per Paylor, that he didn't want the negotiations to become a "distraction." Now, both Smith and the team can focus exclusively on the upcoming campaign.
The Chiefs started this past season 9-0 and finished with a record of 11-5, which was good enough to capture the No. 5 seed in the AFC. Kansas City was in contention with the Denver Broncos in the AFC West all year long, but it simply fell just short in big games.
Some might blame Smith for that, but the former San Francisco 49er actually came up huge on the playoff stage. Even though the Chiefs lost to the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card Round and allowed the Colts to come back from a 28-point deficit, Smith wasn't the issue.
He put up dynamite numbers in that game, with 378 yards and four touchdowns along with an additional 57 rushing yards. Smith was especially good in the first half, as seen in this video, courtesy of the NFL's official Twitter account:
His production dropped off in the second half, but he was without star running back Jamaal Charles as well as wide receiver Donnie Avery, both of whom left the game with injuries. Also, his defense gave him absolutely no support.
Smith became the first quarterback to pass for four touchdowns and no interceptions in a playoff game and still lose, according to Elias Sports (via ESPN Stats & Info):
Some might argue that Smith didn't make enough plays down the stretch, but such blame is misplaced considering how good Smith's overall numbers were.
Excelling in the playoffs isn't a new thing for Smith, either. He outgunned Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in the postseason two years ago while with the 49ers, so Smith has a penchant for playing his best when the lights are brightest.
With all of that in mind, it isn't particularly surprising that the Chiefs decided to secure the 30-year-old signal-caller. Reid often allowed Smith to take a back seat to Charles this past season, but Smith still ended up with over 3,700 total yards and 24 total touchdowns, so it's fair to say that he was a big reason for the team's success.
The Chiefs made some big strides under Smith, and he is optimistic about the team's potential moving forward. He told The Kansas City Star (h/t NFL.com's Dan Hanzus) in February:
I'm very excited, if you look at our last eight or nine games offensively, we really did some good things and took off a little bit there. And we got some momentum heading into the offseason. Obviously the playoff game was tough to take, but there are some positive things, too.
The big question is whether Smith can take the Chiefs to the next level. Kansas City boasts playmakers such as Charles and Dwayne Bowe on offense, as well as a defense that is torturous to opposing quarterbacks when healthy. Smith believes that the talent is in place for the Chiefs to be major players moving forward, according to Jeffrey Flanagan of Fox Sports:
I certainly think we have the pieces here. No doubt in my mind that we have what it takes. I think the guys will tell you more so than ever, we feel like that we're capable of not only just getting to the playoffs, but going deep into them and making runs. We have that kind of talent here. We have the group together to do that.
It will be interesting to see how Smith is utilized moving forward. The Chiefs had their greatest success this past season when he was a game manager, which is what he has been viewed as for much of his career. He put up better numbers late in the year when Reid opened up the offense, but the team as a whole didn't fare as well.
In many ways, Smith played more aggressively out of necessity since the defense was compromised by injury late in the year. It ultimately didn't work to Kansas City's advantage, but Smith proved versatile enough to do pretty much anything asked of him.
It's difficult to find a quality quarterback in the NFL; however, the Chiefs clearly believe that they have hit paydirt with Smith, and they hope that it will lead to big things in the near future.
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