NGSC Sports

Alex Smith: Are the Chiefs Filing Chapter 11?

Whenever I think about the varying opinions of Alex Smith, a scene from Rocky V always pops into my mind. The Russians hated Rocky. The hostile crowd booed him mercilessly as he entered the ring to fight their beloved Ivan Drago. At times, the scene was the exact same when Alex Smith entered the field at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. The crowd began to change as the fight between Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago went on. At the end, Rocky had the infamous quote, “If I can change, and you can change, than anyone can change!” The crowd went wild. I am one of the people who has undergone a change of heart when it comes to Alex Smith. There was a time when I despised his style of play. My oh my, how things change!

The Kansas City Chiefs traded for Alex Smith last year. Head coach Andy Reid had long coveted the ultra efficient quarterback and made sure to get his man when he relocated to a new franchise. Smith’s rhythmic passing style is a perfect match for Reid’s system. It showed last year as the Chiefs surprised everyone by making the playoffs.

Smith is in the final year of a three year, $25.25 million contract. He is set to make $8 million in 2014. The two sides are said to be interested in getting a deal done, but there are still plenty of negotiations to be made. Smith recently gave his take on the contract situation and whether or not he’s worried about getting it done before training camp. He also said that he is focused on the task at hand.

“Certainly there’s been a lot of continued open conversation between both sides. For me, we are getting down to coming to camp. For me, that is all going to get forgotten about. If it gets done, it gets done. I’m all about football. Until then, I’m just focused on that first game really.”

There are some who focus on the numbers and use them to criticize Alex Smith. His stats were decent in 2013 as he posted 3,313 yards passing along with 23 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. The 23 touchdowns and 3,313 passing yards are both career highs for Smith. Things will only get better as Reid opens up the system more for Smith.

 

[airesizeimg src=”http://ngscsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Alex+Smith+Divisional+Playoffs+New+Orleans+Ri0QRTI1Cldx$-300×199$.jpg” alt=”Alex+Smith+Divisional+Playoffs+New+Orleans+Ri0QRTI1Cldx” class=”alignright size-medium wp-image-5437″ ]More importantly, he’s the ideal quarterback for the Chiefs. Smith is a heady quarterback that will not turn the ball over frequently. His athleticism is very underrated also. A really good example of that was the designed run in which Alex Smith scored a 25 yard touchdown when the San Francisco 49ers beat the New Orleans Saints in the 2011 NFC Divisional playoff round. He also rushed for 57 yards on eight carries against the Colts in the wildcard round of the playoffs last year.

The Chiefs have to bring Alex Smith back after next season. They treated their fans to a complete turn around in 2013. He is getting more and more comfortable in the offense and has even showed signs of becoming a more aggressive passer. Some will point to the fact that he didn’t pass for 300 or more yards in any game during the regular season. To that, I will counter with his performance in the playoff game in Indianapolis against the Colts. He had 46 passing attempts and completed 30 of them for 378 yards along with four touchdowns. That’s an average of 8.22 yards per completion. By the way, he had zero interceptions and was called upon to put the team on  his shoulders when Jamaal Charles went down with an injury.

Granted, the Chiefs didn’t win the game against the Colts but that is hardly due to Alex Smith. He orchestrated an offense that posted 44 points on the road. The defense on the other hand, gave up 536 yards of total offense that accounted for 45 points. Smith did have a chance to put together a comeback but that was cut short when the Chiefs couldn’t convert a 4th and 11 with two minutes left in the game. Smith threw a perfect drop shot deep to Dewayne Bowe down the right sideline. Bowe didn’t give himself the necessary three yard cushion to fade to the sideline and ended up making the catch but didn’t stay in bounds. To be fair, Smith was called for intentional grounding when he threw the ball away as the Colts collapsed the pocket right into his lap earlier in that drive. That put them out of field goal range. They would have been out of range anyway due to the pending sack.

Smith doesn’t do anything to make any fantasy football owners gush about his statistics but he has played at a very effective clip that has put his team in position to win over the last few years. Yes, the dynamic play making ability that Colin Kaepernick showed drove the 49ers to deal Smith, but the ability to make plays is there. He may not put up the 400 yard passing games that guys like Matt Schaub, Tony Romo or Jay Cutler do but he won’t burden the defense by turning the ball over deep in their own territory either. The bottom line is Smith consistently gives his team a chance to win. He is well aware of how his play has been over his recent clip and how it compares to some of the other quarterbacks.

“Certainly when you’re talking about comparable stats and what the marketplace is for a quarterback, certainly you’re looking at that, and I feel my body of work of the last three or four years is right up there with those guys. No question when you’re trying to put a value on something like that, you look at that stuff.”

The team at spotrac.com put together a pretty accurate contract forecast for Alex Smith. Here are some of the comparisons that they made:

PLAYER LENGTH VALUE AVG. SALARY GUARANTEED AGE WHEN SIGNED
Eli Manning 6 $97,500,000 $16,250,000 $35,000,000 29
Tony Romo 6 $108,000,000 $18,000,000 $40,000,000 32
Jay Cutler 7 $126,700,000 $18,100,000 $54,000,000 30
Matt Schaub 4 $62,000,000 $15,500,000 $29,150,000 30
Averages 5.75 $98,550,000 $16,962,500 $39,537,500 30.25

Looking at this chart, you will see that at 30 years old, Alex Smith is the same age as Jay Cutler and Matt Schaub but younger than Tony Romo. Unlike the others, Smith has been a part of teams that have gone deeper in the playoffs. He is entering his eighth year in the NFL and surely deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as Cutler or Schaub.

PLAYER GAMES/YR PASS YDS/G COMP %/G PASS TD/G INT/G
Eli Manning (2008-09, NYG) 16 226.8 61.3 1.5 .75
Tony Romo (2011-12, DAL) 16 284 65.9 1.84 .9
Matt Schaub (2010-11, HOU) 13 263.4 62.7 1.5 .69
Jay Cutler (2012-13, CHI) 13 217.5 60.7 1.46 1
AVERAGES 14.5 247.925 62.65 1.575 0.835
Alex Smith (2012-13, KC) 12.5 197.3 65.4 1.44 0.48
% CHANGE -13.79% -20.42% 4.39% -8.57% 42.51%
MEDIAN PRIME PERCENTAGE: -8.57%
AVERAGE PRIME PERCENTAGE: 0.82%

This chart shows that statistically, Smith’s numbers are down from the other quarterbacks that have comparable deals to what Smith is said to be seeking. The last column is an important indicator though. His interceptions per game is 42.51% lower than the other quarterbacks. Nothing is more fatal to an offense than turning the ball over. This is an area of strength for Smith. He is very efficient with the ball. The Chiefs offense can still put up points without calling on Smith to pass for high amounts of yards because of their feature back Jamaal Charles. However, as shown by the playoff game against the Colts, Smith can post numbers when he needs to.

Spotrac’s Prediction: 5 years, $78,037,263

Average annual salary $15,607,453, estimated $ 24,000,000 guaranteed

[airesizeimg src=”http://ngscsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Alex+Smith+New+York+Giants+v+Kansas+City+Chiefs+Qw2bMyxzQ2Wx$-232×300$.jpg” alt=”Alex+Smith+New+York+Giants+v+Kansas+City+Chiefs+Qw2bMyxzQ2Wx” class=”alignleft size-medium wp-image-5438″ ]As the folks at spotrac.com said, the Chiefs are likely waiting for the Bengals to figure out their deal with Andy Dalton. Of course, Dalton puts up better numbers than Smith but the thing that has to be noted is the value that each player has to their franchise is a unique situation. The waiting game isn’t one that Smith wants to play but he understands that it is important to not rush it despite the fact that he has really enjoyed his brief time in Kansas City.

“I’d love to get a deal done. I love Kansas City, I love the coaching staff, the players, . . . But when you’re talking about this many years and that type of deal, you want it done right. You want both sides happy, and you want it to be something that is going to last and you can play out. A lot of things go into it. With that, there’s still plenty of time. I still have a whole year left. And who knows what will happen?”

The Chiefs need to figure out if Alex Smith is going to be their long term answer at quarterback. Smith has full intentions of being the answer and is willing to still report to camp with the mindset of just focusing on letting his play do the talking for him. That speaks volumes about his maturity as a player and his belief in his ability. The question is, what does the delay in getting a deal done say about the Chiefs? Franchise quarterbacks rarely hit the open market. Alex Smith has become a franchise quarterback and needs to get a contract extension at some point in the near future.

Follow Turron on Twitter: @TDavenport_PPI
Email Turron: tdavenport@ngscsports.com

 

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