Kansas City Chiefs: Appreciation for former quarterback Alex Smith

Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after scoring a touchdown (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after scoring a touchdown (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Former Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith suffered a gruesome leg injury that knocked him out for the remainder of the 2018 season and possibly all of 2019.

Now comes speculation he may never play again. Regardless of whether he does, the Kansas City Chiefs organization and its fans should all be appreciative of his time in Kansas City.

On Thursday, CBS’ Jason La Canfora wrote a column about Alex Smith‘s current team, the Washington Redskins, perhaps trading up in the draft to land Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Smith’s name only pops up once in the entire column when La Canfora writes that Smith is “unlikely to ever play again, but (is) due $54M in guarantees.”

Now, it should be noted that neither Washington nor Smith have come out and said that Smith is unlikely to ever play again. For that matter, no public comments have been made regarding 2019, though it is believed Smith will miss all of it.

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Yet, the Redskins actions speak volumes.

Just over two weeks ago, the team announced it was trading for Broncos quarterback Case Keenum with the deal becoming official on March 13th. Plus, the team is being linked to several different quarterbacks in next month’s draft, from Haskins to Missouri’s Drew Lock.

If this is truly the end of Alex Smith’s career, that’s a shame. Alongside head coach Andy Reid, Smith was incredibly instrumental in getting the Chiefs back to relativity post-Pioli. Acquired by the Chiefs on March 12th, 2013, for two second-round draft picks, Smith immediately took over the starting quarterback gig from Matt Cassel.

In the four years preceding Smith’s Kansas City arrival, the Chiefs went 23-41, finishing last in the AFC West three times while making the postseason once. In the five years with Smith under center, the Chiefs went 50-26 (he missed a couple of games), winning the AFC West twice, reaching the postseason four times, and never suffering a losing season. In 2015, he led the Chiefs to their first playoff victory in 22 years.

Simply, he put the Chiefs back on the map. Sure, he didn’t do this alone. With Reid and, at first, John Dorsey, the Chiefs built a solid foundation that thrives today. But the franchise was missing an important, vital piece: a capable, winning quarterback, something the team hadn’t employed since the last days of Trent Green.

By acquiring Smith, a quarterback who had endured a roller-coaster seven-year tenure with the San Francisco 49ers, the team that drafted him number one overall way back in 2005, the Chiefs changed all of that. And while he didn’t lead the Chiefs to the Super Bowl (or even the AFC Championship game), he helped guide the team back into relativity.

In 2017, his last with the Chiefs, in addition to throwing over 4,000 yards and 26 touchdown passes versus only five interceptions, he mentored his eventual successor, the kid whose ascent enabled the Chiefs to deal Smith to the Redskins last offseason.

So, here’s to Alex Smith, the franchise’s third all-time leading passer. Chiefs fans are forever in your debt for leading them back into the daylight after the dark days of Scott Pioli’s reign.

Under Smith, an entirely new generation of Chiefs fans got to enjoy playoff football, even if it always ended in heartache. (But isn’t that the most important of fandom, suffering that?) From 2013-2017, the Chiefs reached the playoffs four out of five years. The franchise hadn’t done that since 1990-1995 when the team made six straight appearances.

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It didn’t only happen because of Smith, but he was the most important piece to that puzzle. Regardless of whether his NFL days are done, it’s important to remember that he turned around this once proud, then a mess of a franchise.

If not for Alex Smith, the Kansas City Chiefs would not be where they are today.