Chiefs: Can Alex Smith Keep it Up?

 

 

 

 

I wanted to write an article on the lack of involvement of Chris Conley, and really anyone not named Hill, Kelce, Wilson or Hunt, in the passing game. I went to a few different stat sites to find evidence to support my claim and I was a little surprised by what I found. I also stumbled on a few stats that made me change the direction of this article from the receivers to the quarterback.

 

 

 

 

 

I think it goes without saying that Alex Smith has had a great start to the season. Smith is playing like a man that has a first round draft pick breathing down his neck, a man that knows he could be wearing a different logo on his helmet as early as next year. If he is considering this season as an audition year, he is doing a great job impressing the judges, which consists of about a third of the GM’s around the league. Just how good of a start is he having? Let’s look at a few stats from the past four years to get a baseline.

 

 

 

            Completions of
Year Yards Attempts Y/A TD/INT TD% 20 yards 40 yards
2016 3502 489 7.16 15/8 3.1 39(7.9%) 8(1.6%)
2015 3486 470 7.42 20/7 4.3 42(8.9%) 10(2.1%)
2014 3265 464 7.02 18/6 3.9 40(8.6%) 3(0.6%)
2013 3313 508 6.52 23/7 4.5 42(8.3%) 6(1.2%)
               
Average 3391.5 482.75 7.03 19/7 3.95 40.75(8.4%) 6.75(1.4%)

 

 

 

Now the same stats through the first three games of the season, as well as a projection for the remainder of the year. Note: the projections are based on converting the first three games into a 16-game season.

 

 

 

            Completions of
Year Yards Attempts Y/A TD/INT TD% 20 yards 40 yards
First 3 Games 774 84 9.21 20/7 8.3 6(7.1%) 3(3.5%)
2017 Projection 4128 448 9.21 37/0 8.3 32(7.1%) 16(3.5%)

 

 

 

Smith is on track to have his best year in passing yards, yards per attempt, passing TD’s, INTs thrown, touchdown percentage and passes of 40 yards or more since he joined the team. Let’s be honest, the interception number will probably be higher than none. Last year the low mark was Tom Brady with two (through 12 games due to suspension. Dak Prescott had four through sixteen games). Smith’s current touchdown percentage would be 1.2% better than last years top finisher, Matt Ryan’s7.1 (Arron Rodger came in second with 6.6%). Yards per attempt is achievable, but unlikely; Matt Ryan led this category as well with 9.3 yards per attempt. The next three for this stat would be Brady, Cousins and Prescott with 8.2, 8.1 and 8.0.

 

 

 

With that being said, the biggest numbers that jump off the page for me are the yards per attempt, touchdown percentage and completions of 40 yards or more. These three numbers represent Smith’s ability and desire to stretch the field vertically this season. Rather than the repeated screen passes, check downs and first read shallow routes, Smith is going through his progression, finding the open man past the line of scrimmage as well as past the first down marker, and most importantly he is testing the safeties deep. In doing so, he is opening the defense for the underneath throws when they are need as well as clearing the middle of the defense for Hunt and the running game. Keeping the defense honest is something Smith has not been touted for in the past, but this year it seems like that it just what he is doing through three games.

 

 

 

Obviously, Smith is but one eleventh of the offense at any given time and some of the credit has to go to the players around him. Tyreek Hill is called the Cheetah for a reason. He may even be faster than a bullet leaving a pistol, well almost. He can take the top off a defense and make most corners look like the last sloth picked for a track meet. The obvious answer to Hill’s speed is cheat a safety to his side, right? Depending on who you talk to, Travis Kelce is the best tight end in the league and will make a defense pay if you pay too much attention to Hill. Ok, so cheat a safety to Hill and double Kelce, problem solved? Smith’s third favorite target so far this year has been Albert Wilson. Wilson has benefited from the attention Hill and Kelce demand with 12 targets for 10 catches, 77 yards and a TD. Say what you will about Wilson, he looks to be making the most of his opportunities this year. I am honestly a little upset about the fact he has given me nothing to be mad at yet so far.

 

 

 

The top three receivers listed above account for 62% of Smith’s 84 pass attempts. The next 22% of targets went to Chris Conley and Kareem Hunt with 9 targets apiece. I honestly thought Conley’s involvement was much lower, but he has actually caught 6 of his 9 targets for 98 yards, 2 catches over 20 yards and 3 first downs. I’m hoping that over the rest of the season, with teams paying attention to Hill, Kelce, Wilson and Hunt, Conley will be a bigger part of the offense. The guy makes big catches in big moments of the game, has great field awareness and, while not a receiving trait, is a great blocker when the run comes to his side. He is everything you ask for in a receiver, and we don’t start getting more involved, he will look to showcase his skills elsewhere when his contract is up.

 

 

 

Matching Conley in targets is Kareem Hunt. Though he has made more out of his opportunities catching all 9 passes for 137 yards, 1 catch over 20 yards, 2 touchdowns and 6 first downs. Hunt needs to give himself a pat on the back, as well as a round of I-Pads for his lineman. He was expected to be depth before being plunged into the starting lineup two weeks before the season started as Ware headed to IR. An entire article could, and has, been written about the amazing start Hunt has had in both the ground and air game. The remaining 16% of Smith’s attempts have gone to, West (3), Harris (2) DAT (2) Robinson (2) and Sherman (1). It is worth noting that all 10 of those passes were caught for 65 yards and a touchdown. Overall I would like to see the ball spread around a little more, but that will probably come on its own over time as teams concentrate on Hill, Kelce, Wilson and Hunt more so than they are now.

 

 

 

Whether this year is an audition year for Smith or he ends up as the signal caller for the Chief’s for another year to come, whether his stats follow the exact course he has set so far or he takes a dip in any area, as long as he, and the supporting cast, stays healthy, Smith is on his way to his best statistical season as a Chief, and in his career. So, will Smith continue playing like a man on fire or is he bound to cool off? Can Smith keep throwing to only 4 guys and expect them to stay on pace? Is Wilson ready to show us, the fans, what the coaching staff as presumably seen in him over the past 3 years? What is the most impressive play so far for Smith? And, finally, will Smith wear an Arrowhead on his helmet next season?

 

 

 

Image result for alex smith wind up

 

 

 

The answers: yes, no, maybe, the bomb to Hunt and no.

 

 

 

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Frank Rodela

Frank Rodela

CNC Programmer at Allstate Steel Company
29 year old husband and father of three with another on the way. Assistant Den Leader for Weblio pack 475. Chiefs fanatic born and raised in Jacksonville Florida.
Frank Rodela

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  • Laurels and limitations

    why you gotta be wantin’-to-hate-on-Wilson?, lol

    • Frank Rodela

      lol, i can’t help it man. For every big time play he has made prior to this year, he also has an open field, no one within 10 yards blatant drop. For every touchdown springing block he made, he’d wiff and get the ball carrier killed.

      If he is still playing at the level shown through three games come midseason, I will write an apology post

  • Laurels and limitations

    But uh, nope, I don’t think Smith will come anywhere close to those numbers. Smith is still susceptible to the pass rush as was evidenced by the SD game. Worse yet, SD was able to contain Smith in the pocket to severely limit his running ability. Here’s to hoping I’m wrong and that the rest of the league can’t mimic SD’s game plan vs. Smith and the KC o-line.

    • Merlin

      I agree, the Chiefs will probably struggle offensively against two quality edge rushers.

    • Frank Rodela

      AS11 vs Philly – 75% completion, 8.9 Y/A
      SD – 76.1% comp, 7.3 Y/A

      In his career, Smith has only finished a season above 7.3 Y/A twice, 7.4 in 2015 and 8.0 in 2012.

      In the Los Diego game, the Chiefs went to the foot very much off the throat approach witch limited Smith’s passing situations to mostly passing only when needed. Gus Bradley picked up on it and sent the house on obvious passing situations. When he didn’t send the house, he was smart enough to send the extra pressure right at Witxman, as he is the weakest link and is going to get Smith hurt if he doesn’t start taking some form of PEDS. Or morph into an actual NFL lineman….or something else illegal/impossible.

      • Wonder why we couldn’t figure that out in the game? Each of those actions creates a weakness on defense that we should have exploited. Gameplan adjustments are needed in most games. Hope AR and crew get better at it. Not that I am down on them with the wins, but they seem closer than they should be.

        • Frank Rodela

          I don’t know if you saw the stat posted on yesterdays thread, but Reid and Smith went to the quick short throws to counter the blitz

          • berttheclock

            Have you read the comments by the former KC LB, Shawn Barber, who noted that when Kelce put his hand in the dirt, the Chargers put Ingram directly across from him to rough him up? If he did break loose, Gus Bradley had his D-backs get in front of him. Add the fact that on any longer play, Alex Smith often did not have the time to even attempt to go through his progressions. Bradley’s work as the new DC of the Chargers reminded me of how well he ran the Seahawks defense when, they contained Manning and the Broncos. One of Bradley’s few mistakes came on the first Hill TD. The Chiefs did not use any motion, but, had Hill set wide and the 2nd from the left sideline. Bradley had his D-back try to come up to jam him, but, he missed as Hill ran a straight Go pattern. If you go back to what Schwartz did, he had his D-backs lay off Hill in order to not allow him to be able to gain any YACs. Schwartz simply gave up the initial pass.

            The Spanos family is not made up of the brightest bulbs in the land, but, after hiring a newbie HC, they made the correct decision to surround him with seasoned assistant coaches. Bradley as the DC and Whisenhunt as the OC.

          • berttheclock

            BTW, Barber noted that the Chiefs did try to target Kelce 5 times. Kelce ended up catching one pass for one yard.

            I believe that was the swing pass to the right side.

          • ladner morse

            ESPN shows Kelce got one target for one catch for one yard vs the Chargers on Sunday.

            I think Alex was being “restricted” as to the plays called for Kelce to teach Kelce a lesson. Since Kelce’s rookie year, he’s never been targeted one time or less in a game.

            Now, doesn’t the fact that Reid chewed him out just last week have something to do with that? We all know that Reid can move his player around in pre-snap moves to get them open so why didn’t he do that with his premiere offensive talent? Sure, the defense did a good job of containing him but does that tell the whole story? I don’t think so. I believe Andy Reid intended to show Kelce that the Chiefs… and Reid… can win without him, and do without him…. and especially do without his antics.

        • berttheclock

          At Dee’s Bar in Portland, I started complaining about that non-adjustment in the 2nd quarter. Bradley was clearly outthinking Reid as he began to both pass rush effectively and stop running plays. Reid did not even adjust at half time as the Bolts stopped the Chiefs on the first series of the second half. Plus, why in a game where field advantage would be so critical did Andy call for a fake punt while in Chiefs territory? Reid never did adjust to Bradley until late in the game.

    • Chiefs-Kings-A’s

      It’s unrealistic to think he could keep up the numbers he has had in the first three games, but there is no question he will have a career year.
      I think he comes really close to doubling his touchdown count from last year.

      • Laurels and limitations

        30!? not inconceivable, but Smith can’t have any speedbumps along the way either. We ARE talking regular season here, right?

        • Chiefs-Kings-A’s

          Yes…regular season….and I’m thinking something closer to like 28.

          • Laurels and limitations

            well, he has 7 TDs through 3 games, so he is WELL on his way.

  • Laurels and limitations

    “Of course #motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis.” @TheZigZiglar— JJ Birden (@jjbirden) September 27, 2017

  • berttheclock

    I really do not like to get stuck in stat land, but, there was one very important stat from the game between Carr and the Raiders and the Redskins. On 3rd down, Carr was zero for eleven. The Redskins have a very good front seven in their 4-3 defense. Carr was only sacked twice, but, his wide outs often were not able to get any separation. Carr, as with many QBs in the NFL, has major problems when pressured and hurried to make throws.

    • Frank Rodela

      Monday night is going to be a tough outing.

  • Frank Rodela

    Speaking of stats, dating back to the end of last season, the Chiefs now have 9 games in a row, an NFL record, with a touchdown of 50 yards or more.

  • Nice article. I am not really too hung on stats. Al Smith is not my worry either. What is? past 2 games, 1st half; failing to move the chains and keep drives going. Play calling. The OLine. I want Morse and Ehinger back.

    • berttheclock

      Question for you. Did you ever check out Mason Foster, the former Washington Huskie ILB? Came out in 2011 as a 3rd round pick by the Bucs. Played well, under Lovie took over. Lovie brought in a different scheme and add a couple of injuries to Foster, Foster’s playing time diminished. So, he ended up signing a minimum deal with the Bears two years ago. That did not work out as Fox decided to go on a youth movement. He had been cut by the Bears on September 5th, 2015 and the Redskins signed him on the 29th. Ended up playing in 13 games for them, then started at ILB for them last year. In his early days with the Bucs, he had 4 sacks. This year his one claim to fame was intercepting the Rams young QB in week one. I wonder if Dorsey ever considered him the month he was cut back in September 2015?

      • Sorry. Out of pocket up in the mountains. He had maybe 2 good seasons with TB but was traded. to be playing well with an int so far, which sort of brings him round on the radar again. Last season was a very year, 89 T&A. I can’t recall a reason for the Bay to have traded him. Didn’t know any rumors, He came out and played well, had a couple of very good years then a drop off and the trade. Inside stuff? Don’t know. His snaps and contributions dropped. Going back to collegiate though, I know he was fairly highly touted. Went to TB and came on the scene, did well. I thought. I think Dorey must have looked at him when he was released. Maybe the injury season did him in. Or that and something that was internal because he played well, was always around the ball, etc. I don’t think he fit TBs defense either when they shifted, but that is only from reading. One thing of note, he has a knack for pressuring the QB from inside. That would have drawn Dorsey’s attention, plus Ints and Frs…

  • freshmeat62

    I’m not concerned about stats. Oh it’s nice to see our guys up towards the top, but I’m more concerned about the play calling. I don’t know if it’s Nagy or Reid calling the plays, but it looks to me that from the 1st game to this last one we are regressing back to the old dink and dunk. That 1st game against NE they came out like gangbusters trying all kinds of stuff we’ve not seen before, and then the 2nd half of last week it looked like the old Andy Reid offense again of throwing behind the 1st down marker or even the LOS.

    • Frank Rodela

      Seems like a take what they give you approach. New England was only rushing 3 for most of the game. Philly and Los Diego were sending more constant pressure.

      • berttheclock

        Plus, the Pats’ best LB left the game injured. Hightower.

        • Frank Rodela

          And even with Hightower in, New England doesn’t have the same defense it has had in the last few seasons.

      • Robert Conklin

        Don’t forget Morse went down, and the O line performance has gone down with it. Less time to go vertical, back to more quick throws.

    • berttheclock

      But, did you see where both Schwartz of the Eagles and Bradley of the Chargers on 3rd and, say, nine, only put 3 men up and had 7 stretched out at the yard marker with one deeper?

  • tm1946

    Santos to IR today.

    • Chiefs-Kings-A’s

      Just when I finally started trusting the little midget too–lol

      • Laurels and limitations

        u ain’t right, lol.

        • Chiefs-Kings-A’s

          Understatement. 😀

          • Laurels and limitations

            and that’s why we cherish you, you wascally wabbit!

  • Chiefs-Kings-A’s

    NFL players are notorious for having career years during contract years…..why should Smith be any different I suppose.
    Be it, his next payday with another team or trying to keep his starting role (and collect his current deal) in KC, Smith has every reason to be playing at his absolute best and maybe even with a little reckless abandoned.

    • Laurels and limitations

      that’s a given I believe. Smith is in a position to play the “gotta go for it” card.
      1) he balls out and KC honors his latest contract and PM2 sits until 2019- or ugh, later.
      2) he balls out and KC releases him to the highest bidder. KC makes a profit.
      3) Smith tries to ball out and is proven a game manager, of which 60% of the NFL teams would love to be saddled with. KC breaks even.

      • Chiefs-Kings-A’s

        I’m rooting for #1

        • Laurels and limitations

          and here I was just starting to like you….smh.

          • Chiefs-Kings-A’s

            Hehe….hey man, Alex is a much safer bet at this point…..I’m banking on Mahomes becoming a smart QB some day along with the talented QB he already is.
            It’s very very rare for a rookie to have immediate success, it usually takes a few years of experience and I believe this team is built to win right now

          • Laurels and limitations

            I think they are playing the SB window “right now”. Meanwhile the FO drafted for the future in this last draft. If Mahomes had played worse during the preseason, TC, etc., I would agree that sitting him next year was the right plan. But PM2 didn’t, dude is ready to go as any QB in the league. To add, if Smith continues to elevate the rest of the team as he did the first 2 games of the year and can still contribute as well NEXT season, continue to sit Mahomes…but when Smith becomes a deficit, and I believe he will sooner than later…it’s PM2’s time.

          • Chiefs-Kings-A’s

            I guess I wasn’t as enamored with MaHomes as some.
            Don’t get me wrong, the kid has major talent and a cannon for an arm, it’s the little things I guess.
            Smith recognizes different throws require different speeds, for instance floating over the receivers outside shoulder when throwing in the flat or snap and fire when throwing the screen.
            MaHomes has one speed 60+ MPH

          • Chiefs-Kings-A’s

            ^ok, I might have exaggerating here a little…..my point is, Smith has a really good feel for the game right now.

          • Laurels and limitations

            lol, that’s more like it….hehe. In the beginning of the TCs and whatnot I would have agreed with you about Mahomes, it’s all or nothing….but the cat has a cool head and he shows that he learns fast. The dude doesn’t need to sit for 3 years unless the team can afford him to do so is my point.

            But yeah, Smith in the first two games and the first two drives of the 3rd game showed good. he was NOT good the last 3 quarters of the last game. I’m hoping the last 3 quarters were an anomaly, and not a portent of things to come.

          • Chiefs-Kings-A’s

            Bray was once your QB crush so it’s a little difficult for me to trust your judgement–lol. 😀

          • Laurels and limitations

            HAHA!! I still like Bray for what he might have become, and what he might have become is Mahomes’ skillset. I feel so damn spoiled.

    • Robert Conklin

      Yes, but we have a 3 headed monster this year with Kelce, Hill, and Hunt. Plus the O line is finally coming together… until Morse went down. I think Alex’s success has more to do with the team around him than the contract year. I’m hoping that Ehinger and Morse both come Back soon and take this O line to the next level. If they do, Alex will really go off!

      • Chiefs-Kings-A’s

        I totally agree…..all the pieces are coming together for the Chiefs at once.