8-0 is 8-0. We understand this. However, the Chiefs road to perfection has been anything but perfect, and the quarterback position reflects this idea the best.
Through eight games Smith has nine touchdowns, four interceptions, 59.1% completions, and 48.5 QBR (50 is average). His numbers and performance would be better if he became more efficient with his shorter passes and were more accurate with the deep ball.
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) October 24, 2013
Keep that in mind when looking at Smith’s total completion percentage (59.1%). Comparatively, Ponder is completing 60.3% and Matt Cassel is completing 69.6%. Smith is throwing the ball short and is still missing his targets. Sure there are other factors involved, including receivers dropping passes, but 59.1% is abysmal for someone who throws so many short passes.
And when it comes to the offensive line – while they have by no means played well – this is the least amount Smith has been sacked (by percentage of drop backs) since 2010.
2013: 6.7% (Through seven weeks)
Remember Smith is on pace to obliterate his career record for pass attempts and is in the top 10 in pass attempts in the NFL. So while the offensive line needs improvement, blaming them for the poor completion percentage exclusively would not be fair or accurate.
A large hit to the completion percentage is due to Smith’s inability complete the deep ball. His 14.7% completions on passes thrown 15 yards or more downfield ranks him next to last in the NFL. One such pass this Sunday that fell incomplete was a sure touchdown throw to Anthony Fasano. The ball sailed and landed incomplete. Hit that pass and KC doesn’t settle for a field goal and leads
7-0 10-0 to start the game.
Here’s the concern with Alex Smith right now…He had Fasano wide open yet threw off back foot with no pressure. Photo: pic.twitter.com/DqhaB9q1Dr
— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) October 27, 2013
And this is more than just open receivers, offensive line blocking, or scheme.
— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) October 27, 2013
Smith isn’t looking for the big play down field most of the time, and when he does look for it he cannot complete the pass at a high percentage. This isn’t anything new, he was like this with the 49ers, too. It is part of the reason why San Francisco chose to keep Colin Kaepernick over Smith.
Smith at his best is Chad Pennington only with a better arm. There is nothing wrong with this, you can win a lot of games with a smart quarterback who protects the football and doesn’t lose the game for your team. But when you’re a team like Kansas City that doesn’t have enough weapons around Smith to create big plays then the offense is going to struggle to score points.
There is a reason why Smith is 2-27 when his opponent scores 24 points or more against him. Creating big plays in the passing game is a very difficult thing for him to do on his own. Considering the current supporting cast around him, thinking he’ll be able to check down his way to a lot of points is unlikely.
Beating Denver, winning a playoff game, and maybe playing into February is going to require Smith to be a better quarterback than what he has been in the first half of the season. Fortunately, there is time for that to happen.