FanPost

Oh Man! Part 2: Will Alex Smith keep throwing deep?

This will be a follow up to Oh man! Part one, Why can't Alex Smith throw deep. After I wrote the article somebody, during a conversation in the comments, mentioned that using 21+ yards from the yards of scrimmage instead of 15+ seemed foolish.

ESPN's passing splits do not list 15+, only 21+, but after a bit of digging I realized that pro-football-reference, a site I already visit quite a bit (mainly because they have refined and properly the defined the "4th quarter comeback" & "game winning drive"), uses +15 for their "deep passing" splits.

(Fast forward through all the narrative in the first article)

At the time I wrote the article, before the Giants game, Alex Smith had the following stats when throwing 15+ yards downfield. This includes Weeks 1-3.

15+ yards (Wk. 1-3)

Comp.

Att.

Yards

A. Smith

4

8

95

I do not have time to compile the stats of every other QB. But what I found turned out to be more interesting, I think, so bear with me.

If you watched the game against the Giants, you probably noticed that Smith has most certainly read my article and took my suggestion to "huck it."

I am not sure whom to blame for the INT's, but they were both funky plays. Ditto on the fumble. With the exception of those plays, I thought Smith played outstanding, overcoming a ton of drops (Avery alone was targeted 10 times for only 2 catches); here are his deep passing stats against the Giants.

15+ yards (Wk. 1-3)

Comp.

Att.

Yards

A. Smith

5

8

130

Smith threw as many deep passes in Week 4 against the Giants as he had all year, and the results were even better. Many of us were hopeful that, with time, Smith would be able to develop some chemistry with his new offensive weapons. It appears this chemistry is forming, and combined with a stout performance from the offensive line, Smith was able to shred the Giants defense for his most prolific effort as a Chief yet (288 yards passing, 37 rushing, 3 TDS).

I watched the game live, and I came away very impressed with the Chiefs offense. I still think they have a long way to go. Continually dropping the ball and falling inches short of first downs will not cut it, and the offensive line won't have the luxury of facing the depleted Giants front seven every week. (Credit them for Smith's performance first and foremost)

In my first article, "Alex Smith played football before Harbaugh was his coach. Remember?" I argued that Harbaugh unduly limited Smith's capabilities to make plays on the field. Harbaugh always taught Smith to throw the ball away or take a sack rather than trust his instincts and athletic ability to make plays. That article should still be in the FanPosts forum if you are interested in reading it.

It got me thinking, when was the last time Smith threw 8 passes 15+ downfield in one game? The playoff shootout against N.O.? The blowout against BUF? The comeback against PHI?

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Under Jim Harbaugh, Smith never threw 8 deep passes in one game. Here is every game between 2011-2012 where he threw more than 5.

>5 15+ yd passes

Comp

Att.

Yards.

2011 Wk 9 v NYG

4

6

75

2011 Wk 10 v SEA

3

7

83

2011 Wk 15 @ SEA

4

6

101

2011 Wk 17 v NO

4

6

153

2011 Wk 18 v NYG

3

7

130

2012 Wk 4 @ NYJ

2

6

56

2012 Wk 5 v BUF

5

6

167

By assuming the lack of downfield passing was due to a lack of chemistry, we were all overlooking Big Red; a very hard thing to do. It took Reid all of three games to get more deep passes out of Smith than Harbaugh ever did. His five completions on Sunday also matches the highest number he ever had under Harbaugh, and that was in a 2012 rout of the Bills. (See them all here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vSLbkbcbxY)

So how far back into Smith's not-so-bright pre-Harbaugh years do you have to go to find a game with >8 deep passes? As it turns out, not very far; the back-end of the not-so-dark post-10/10/10 era. Week 16 of 2010 in fact, the last game he played before Harbaugh came to town. Here were his stats in that game.

15+ yards

Comp.

Att.

Yards

2010 Wk 16 v ARI

6

11

194

But of course, that is without Harbaugh's handcuffs and with the chemistry you build with people after years of working with them.

Still think Smith can't throw deep?

Still think Reid traded for Smith to use him like Harbaugh did?

One thing I did in my very first article was project Alex Smith's injury and bench-laden seasons to see how he would have done if given 16 games.

Well, as I like to say, lets give 2013 the same treatment.

Through ¼ of the season, Smith is on pace to win 16 games, lose 0, and finish with the following statistics:

Comp

Att

Yards

RAT

TD

INT

Rush Att

Rush Yd

352

584

3828

90

28

8

120

604

And really, you should be optimistic that Smith finishes with even better numbers. As the season progresses, the trust he has in his receivers should only increase. The offensive line, simply by the laws of chance, must improve at least a little as well.

I also think he has a good chance to finish with fewer INT's. Over the past 3 years, 6 out of his 12 interceptions have been against the Giants. That is 50%. Good thing he went to an AFC team, huh.

After watching tape of the Eagles I knew Reid would be letting Smith throw it >30 times a game. After watching tape of the preseason I noticed that Smith was extending plays, both to pass and to run, in ways he never did while under Harbaugh. Not even I could have hoped for the start he has had through 4 games.

Want to be even more excited?

It took Smith a year and a half with Harbaugh to complete 5 15+ yard passes in one game. It took Smith 3 games with Reid. The offensive line is still gelling. The receivers are still learning how to catch accurate passes, something they have never had to do. Smith is still learning the timing and intricacies of his receivers.

Just imagine what this offense looks like in a year. Heck, imagine what it looks like in a month. The offense as whole has a long way to go, a lot of room to grow. But look how far they've come.

In 2012 Smith lost the faith of his coach, Reid lost the faith of his team, and the Chiefs lost just about everything else.

2013 is looking really bright. 4-0!!!!



This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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