Kansas City Chiefs: Alex Smith Must Show Trust In Receivers

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

The Kansas City Chiefs were expected to have a more dynamic offense this year.  However, Alex Smith seems reluctant to trust his weapons so far.

It is early in the Kansas City Chiefs 2016 campaign.  However, early is when you want to address your issues in the NFL.  For the Kansas City Chiefs, the issues are still with the offense.  That isn’t to say that the defense hasn’t had some struggles.  It’s just that the defense has shown signs of figuring out how to fix those issues.  For the offense, there still seems to be an issue of trust between Alex Smith and his offensive weapons.

Understand that this is not an attack on Alex Smith.  Far from it.  Smith has shown that he can lead the Chiefs to success.  He has shown the ability to step up and have big games, and has proven that he can run this offense.  However, there are times that Smith seems to go back into his shell and revert to a single-read quarterback.  That is going to lead to failure.

Forcing The Ball

This past Sunday, Alex Smith targeted star wide receiver Jeremy Maclin 15 times.  The result was just six catches for 61 yards.  Not a good return on investment.  Meanwhile, the supposed “Captain Checkdown” targeted Chris Conley, Albert Wilson, Tyreek Hill, Spencer Ware, and Charcandrick West a total of 14 times.  Those throws resulted in nine receptions for 84 yards.

All in all, Smith went to his primary receiving weapons, Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce, on 22 of 36 throws.  That is the opposite of spreading the ball around.  Yes, the Chiefs had multiple players make catches, but you need more than that.  If KC wants teams to respect their entire offense, they have to utilize their role players more.

Spreading the ball around consistently is supposed to be a staple of the West Coast Offense that Andy Reid runs.  This is what keeps the defense off-balance and unable to focus their attack on any one area.  The Chiefs gave five or more targets to just two players this week.  That was not the case against the Chargers or in preseason.

Week 1 vs San Diego

Against the Chargers, Alex Smith targeted six different Chiefs receivers five or more times.  Surprisingly, it was running back Spencer Ware who led the team in targets with eight.  That is spreading the ball around.

Not surprisingly, most of these targets came at the end of the game.  That was when the Chiefs offense finally got rolling and became effective.  From halfway through the third quarter until the end of the game, Chiefs fans saw exactly how this offense was supposed to work.  The Kansas City Chiefs scored touchdowns on four of their final six drives.

Preseason Games

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The Kansas City Chiefs showed a similar desire to spread the ball around in the preseason.  Against the Seahawks, Alex Smith only played one series but targeted three different receivers.  Two of those receivers were backup tight ends Demetrius Harris and Ross Travis.  Seattle was clearly caught off guard by that.

Against the Rams in the second preseason game, Smith consistently targeted a group of three receivers with big success.  Throwing primarily to Jeremy Maclin, Travis Kelce, and Chris Conley, the Chiefs were able to move the ball.  While that is not a huge spread of targets, the ability to involve multiple players repeatedly kept the Rams off guard.

When the Chiefs played the Bears, Alex Smith was slinging the ball all over the field and targeted almost every receiver on the list.  The result was an offense that was moving almost at will against Chicago.  This just further exemplifies the ability of the West Coast Offense to move down the field when the quarterback spreads the ball around.

If the Chiefs want to get their offensive production up, then Alex Smith cannot become one-dimensional when choosing his targets.  Smith needs to get the rest of his weapons involved.  Sure, there is some weight to be shouldered by those players.  However, the Chiefs have enough players in enough formations to get people open.  Alex Smith needs to trust in the system more.