If there's one thing that Kansas City Chiefs fans are passionate about discussing, it's the quarterback position. So when the Chiefs made the trade with the San Francisco 49ers to bring Alex Smith over to Kansas City, it was met with immediate criticism from many.
And despite all that criticism, Alex Smith will silence a lot of doubters next season.
There were a good number of Chiefs fans that wanted the organization to make an investment into a first-round quarterback. This is a fanbase that hasn't seen a quarterback drafted in the first round since 1983 when they took Todd Blackledge. He was also the last quarterback the Chiefs drafted that started and won a game for them, and that was in 1987!
Even in what was considered a "down" year for quarterbacks in 2013, the Chiefs held the No. 1 pick and had their choice of investing in the most important position on the football field. They decided long before the draft that going with Alex Smith was the best option for them, and as the draft played out, it looked to be the right decision.
The Chiefs now have head coach Andy Reid and the West Coast offense in Kansas City. The good news for Chiefs fans is this is an offense that suits Alex Smith well.
Smith isn't known for great arm strength or an ability to push the ball down the field vertically. He relies on a short, ball-controlled passing attack that might not sound that exciting in today's "Top 10 highlight plays" atmosphere. But it's a great fit for the West Coast offense and Andy Reid.
ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer was one of the first to say the Chiefs might take a strong look at Alex Smith in Kansas City. Dilfer believes Smith and Reid to be a great fit together.
Alex gives you great versatility at the line of scrimmage. He’s as good as anyone in the league at seeing things before the snap and digesting the information and getting his offense into the right mode, whatever that might be.Alex is very efficient in the shorter and intermediate passing game, and that’s kind of what Andy’s offense lives by.
The Chiefs did Smith a huge favor by agreeing to terms with wide receiver Dwayne Bowe on a five-year deal, giving their new quarterback a legitimate weapon on the outside. Bowe excels on intermediate routes across the middle and using his size and strength to make tough plays in traffic. The Chiefs also went out and signed free-agent tight end Anthony Fasano from Miami, which provides Smith with another reliable target across the middle.
There have been dozens and dozens of breakdowns, articles and angles written about the trade for Alex Smith and how he'll fit in Kansas City. We've got a new player in a new system with a new head coach that's dealing with new personnel. There's no definitive way to try and compute how all of those variables will or won't be successful with any kind of accuracy.
So rather than go through those same points we'll just take a quick look at the Chiefs offense last season.
Between the two Chiefs starting quarterbacks, Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn, the Chiefs threw eight touchdowns and 20 interceptions. They also completed just 57 percent of their passes on the season combined. Any way you look at it that's a certain kind of awful.
There's a floating idea out there that Alex Smith is just like Matt Cassel, and that's what scares a lot of Chiefs fans out there. But regardless of how you try and compare stats across schemes, years and personnel, there's no denying that while watching both of these quarterbacks on tape, they aren't the same player.
Smith is calm in the pocket under pressure and will go through progressions. Cassel would seem to get "happy feet" and move his eyes to the pressure rather than his next progression if his first read was taken away. This is the biggest difference that Chiefs fans will see next season. While Smith doesn't possess the elite physical abilities of some other high-profile NFL quarterbacks, he'll keep you from the oft-said phrase of last season, "If the Chiefs just even had a decent quarterback....."
The Chiefs have a strong running game in Jamaal Charles and have provided Alex Smith with some solid options this offseason that have strengths that fit with his own abilities. It wouldn't have made sense for the Chiefs to go out and spend big money on a lot of "burners" that need the ball to be pushed vertically down the field in order to be successful.
They did sign former Colts wide receiver Donnie Avery, who helps give the Chiefs some more speed at the position, but the moves they've made this off season show the Chiefs building a physical football team that's going to rely on running the football and the short, intermediate passing game.
They were able to use the franchise tag on left tackle Branden Albert, who, despite rumors during draft time of possibly heading to the Miami Dolphins in a trade, is now reportedly talking to the Chiefs about a long-term extension.
Branden Albert, Chiefs start contract extension talks: on.nfl.com/15lPF76
— NFL (@nfl) May 7, 2013
Combine that with the Chiefs using the No. 1 overall pick on offensive lineman Eric Fisher from Central Michigan, their third-round pick on Cincinnati tight end Travis Kelce, and Kansas City has made a concerted effort to build their offense with a physical style as a blueprint.
Whether it works or not remains to be seen, but the Chiefs have shown a definitive plan this offseason on the offensive side of the football.
It's hard to imagine that Alex Smith won't drastically improve the Chiefs' offense this season, especially compared to what we saw with Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn last season. If Smith can do that, he'll silence many of his doubters.