From the FanPosts. -Joel
I got married February 16, and spent ten days on a stay-at-home honeymoon with my beautiful new wife. We are movie fanatics, and we spent a lot of the time catching up on films we haven't had a chance to see.
One of them was Trouble With The Curve. In it, Clint Eastwood plays an aging major league baseball scout who is beginning to lose his eyesight. He is sent to investigate a teenage phenom who is being highly touted by one of his scouting colleagues - a boorish young laptop-toting number cruncher who never actually goes out to watch guys play.
It's a Hollywood movie, so you can guess what happens. Limited by his failing eyesight, Eastwood can tell just by listening that the phenom has a hitch in his swing, and won't be able to handle major league curve balls. The player is signed over Eastwood's objections, and at the newly signed phenom's very first batting practice, it's obvious that Eastwood was right all along. The number cruncher is summarily fired, Eastwood reconnects with his estranged daughter while she falls in love with Justin Timberlake, the hot dog vendor becomes a major league pitcher, and Sandra Bullock marries the other brother instead.
Oh, wait… I think I got some of the movies confused. Anyway…
I, too, shuddered when I first heard the Chiefs are going to pick up Alex Smith - but only because he is now the 37th quarterback castoff the Chiefs have acquired.
I, too, am keenly aware that the last time the Chiefs gave up a second round pick to get a veteran quarterback, it didn't end well.
I, too, have read some of the statistical analyses that are being posted, and can easily conclude that Smith might not be The Franchise Quarterback Of The Future.
I'm not going to say that stats don't matter. Even if I tried, I've written enough statistical analyses on Arrowhead Pride that I'd never get away with it. (And besides… I liked Moneyball, too!) But as I once told Joel, I'm really a Big Picture Guy. Let's not lose sight of the Big Picture, OK?
Yes… the Chiefs have been down this road many times before. But I remind you that the last time this happened - that is, the last time the Chiefs acquired a quarterback from another team who had previously been a regular starter and lost his job due to injury - the player was Joe Montana. Steve Bono, Elvis Grbac and Matt Cassel had never been the anointed starters. Rich Gannon had been, but he had been out of football for a whole season before the Chiefs took him on as a backup. Trent Green was supposed to have been the regular starter for the Rams, but by the time he recovered from the preseason injury that cost him the job, Kurt Warner had ascended to the position.
I'm not going to suggest that Alex Smith is Joe Montana. But it's not impossible that he could be. Like Smith today, Montana was ideal for the West Coast offense. Montana couldn't throw deep, either, but he could accurately hit the short passes that are the bread and butter of the WCO. In his last full season for San Francisco, Montana completed 61.7% of his passes. Smith completed 61.3% in his last full season there. Montana threw 28 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Smith threw 17 and 5. Montana's quarterback rating was 89.0. Smith's was 90.7. Montana was 14-1 as a starter that season. Smith was 13-3. Yes… Montana had led teams to championships before, and Smith has not. But Montana's abilities were headed south before his injury, while Smith's were heading north. And Montana was 37 when he took the reins in Kansas City. Smith will be 29.
We all know, however, that what really set Montana apart were his leadership skills and his own supreme self-confidence. You only had to spend five minutes around the guy to see it. Andy Reid and John Dorsey come from the NFC. They've had to coach and scout against him. Both of their previous teams lost their most recent games against Smith, too. Isn't it reasonable to think that the Chiefs' new stewards see something in Smith that can't be reflected in statistics? Something that a blind Clint Eastwood could see, but that a number cruncher could not?
I won't blame you, though, if Reid and Dorsey's word on this isn't enough. We've been down this road before, too. Scott Pioli was arrogant enough to believe that he could find two Hall Of Fame quarterbacks in late rounds of the NFL draft. When given the chance, he bet his shiny new job - and a proud franchise - on the basis of that arrogance… and also, apparently, on the basis of working out next to Matt Cassel in the New England gym. As a Patriot, Cassel showed he could perform on a high level - but only on a really good team under relatively little pressure; there was never, after all, any question about whether Tom Brady was coming back. Pioli simply failed to see that Cassel couldn't handle the pressure of being the starter on a developing team. This, however, is something Alex Smith has already done - and while doing so, has steadily improved.
Nor can I blame those who are concerned that the Chiefs are going to give up too much to get Smith. We've all just had this bad experience trusting the personal judgment of our GM and head coach, you see, so trust comes hard. But at the press conference where Pioli introduced Todd Haley as the new head coach of the Chiefs, I turned to the guy next to me and asked, "Am I reading this press release correctly? Are we hiring a guy who has never been a head coach… at any level?" And let's not forget… Pioli was new to his job, too. I have no such concerns about Dorsey and Reid. If they think Alex Smith is worth the trade, they have enough credibility with me that I can accept their judgment. For now, anyway. I do, after all, live in Missouri.
I also understand why some people are afraid that the Smith deal means the Chiefs will miss out on a once-in-a-fan's-lifetime chance to nab a superstar quarterback. It very well might. But Dorsey and Reid weren't hired to do that. They were hired to turn this franchise around. If your franchise has no talent, you have every reason to pull the trigger on a quarterback with the first pick; there is nothing at all to lose. But what if your franchise does have talent? The 2012 Chiefs were picked by more than one publication to win the AFC West. Instead, they ended up as the league goat. I don't think it's unreasonable to believe that under these conditions, Dorsey and Reid think there is plenty of talent on the team, and a solid veteran at quarterback could bring it into contention very quickly. That's what Marty Shottenheimer thought in 1993 - and he was right.
And who is to say that Dorsey and Reid don't have something else up their sleeves? Maybe they'll grab a QB with the first pick anyway. Perhaps they have a deal brewing to give up that first pick for a later first round pick - and maybe a second round, too. Maybe after watching and meeting the quarterbacks at the scouting combine, they believe the QBOTF they want can be theirs with a later pick. Let's not forget that Joe Montana was drafted in the third round with the 82nd pick.
Here's what we know, Chiefs fans: for better or worse, Dorsey and Reid have begun doing what they think will make the Chiefs a winning franchise. We have reason to believe they know what they're doing, and they have now - at least partially - already addressed something most Chiefs fans would gladly identify as a glaring need. We don't know exactly how this move is going to play out, and there might be related moves yet to be made. But when you look at the Big Picture, there is plenty of reason to stay positive about what's happening.
There might even be enough to hope for a Hollywood ending.