I don't know if there is a more controversial QB in the league right now than Alex Smith. By saying controversial, all I'm getting at is that Alex is one of those players that was chosen at number one in the draft, underperformed for the first 5-6 years out of the gate, finally has an opportunity to have a team together that can come close to achieveing the NFL dream, and then loses his start due to injury and his coach refuses to let him back in because his backup is playing so well the coach doesn't want to risk rocking the mojo (or the coach was surprised to get high level play out of his QBOTF in Kaepernick and decided that Smith's trade value would skyrocket as the little engine that could but didn't get the chance to finish).
The question is, Does Alex really have what it takes or did he have his chance and blow it? There is of course, no answer to this question yet, but it's striking (at least to me) how the fans shake out on this guy. It seems that they either love or hate the guy with very little in between. Alex is the recipient at the moment of a lot of Chiefs fans love simply because he is the next guy to run the offense. Many fans don't know that much about him and therefore, just as they are anxious to wipe the mess that the Chiefs stepped in last season off their shoes, so too are they anxious to support someone (anyone not named Cassel) going forward because it helps them forget about stepping in that pile to begin with.
Something interesting happend to me over the last weekend, that has me thinking about all this again and as my title suggests, I have to give Alex credit for one thing...for those fans of the 49ers that supported him and continue to, the man crush is real, it's powerful and it's lasting.
I have no idea why this is the case, but I met a brand new Chiefs fan at a gathering last Saturday, and this guy is convinced that Alex Smith can walk on water. He's a brand new Chiefs fan because Alex is a Chief. He's been a 49ers fan over the last several years but his belief that Alex got the proverbial dirty end of the stick with what happened to him in San Francisco has propelled him to switch teams.
My new Chiefs fan friend is a twenty something who grew up in a town without a team. Actually that's not true because if you grow up in Austin TX, your team is the UT Longhorns, plain and simple. But the lack of an NFL franchise in Austin, combined with a family attachment to college, rather than pro football actually gives the residents here options when picking where to throw their NFL support. Many of course become Cowboys fans by default, and some who want to show a little chutzpah, become Texans fans just to stick their finger in the Cowboys groupies eyes. A few others get roped into the fantasy football world and are lost forever (this would have happened to me had I not already been a Chiefs fan prior to learning about fantasy football).
Anyway, Joe (not his real name but it goes with Montana real nice so I thought I'd use it) chose to be a Niners fan. Now, because of his belief in Smith's ability and the fact that he believes the team screwed up in getting rid of Smith, he's changed Red and Gold for Red and Yellow...and he's stoked about it.
After about a 30 minute conversation with Joe, it became apparent that he is a knowledgeable football fan. He, like many here at AP can name all the players on the team. He's studied their history and knows what kind of offense we are going to run and what changes we are expecting from the defense. Yes, he knows who Bob Sutton is. He's well informed on the Branden Albert situation. He thinks Mark Sanchez is the worst QB in the NFL (ok, that doesn't have anything to do with the Chiefs but ya gotta love that--right?). Joe knew all of this info and more about the Niners as well. He respects the Harbaughs and thinks them good coaches, but Joe (like me) believes that the future of the NFL does NOT include a successful switch to the running style QB epiomized by Mike Vick, RG3, Cam Newton and Collin Kaepernick. That discussion is another post, but suffice it to say, he believes that San Fran screwed up by trading Alex and he's switching teams to show his fealty.
Just like many of those 49ers fans we have seen dropping by AP, Joe can't say it clearly or strongly enough how happy Chiefs fans should be that we were lucky enough to get Alex. The endorsement sounds so positive in it's delivery that you'd think Joe was related to Alex. I'm pretty sure that's not the case. What was striking to me though, was the why of support. We talked long enough and I asked him enough questions to define for myself exactly what that why was. It turns out that the basis for his support is a passionate desire to see Alex succeed, and as such supported by 'the facts'.
Unfortunately, those 'facts' are exactly what we see here at AP over and over again. He just missed the Super Bowl because of two fumbles. He came back not once but twice against New Orleans. He's been improving every season. This one kills me because if you look at his career stats, the question begs...how long does he have to improve before he actually turns them into 'good' numbers? The answer of course is that if he keeps doing this until he's about 45, that oughtta do it. LOL
I think my favorite one of Joe's arguments for Alex is the brash question: "Who else would you have gotten?". I love it when I argue with football fans and they drop this on you and wait for a definitive answer. When there isn't one forthcoming, they get that "Ah ha! Gotcha!" look on their face and accept their victory without your acquiescence. I wasn't falling for that one though. I had an answer. I'd rather have had Carson Palmer.
Joe really couldn't argue too much with that choice, agreeing that Carson is a good QB even though he preferred Alex, but I can hear many of you warming up in the comment section. Let me just say that IF Alex Smith turns out to be a short term QB for the Chiefs (I think there is a very good chance of this) then in my opinion, Carson Palmer would have been a better choice. Carson is a proven veteran QB that I could have gotten more excited about watching than Alex Smith. That's it. Do I think Carson was the long term answer? No, but I don't think Alex is either.
Anyway, the whole point of this post was just to say that while I may be lukewarm on Alex Smith, he certainly has his following. For some reason, there are fans out there who are even willing to switch their team allegiance because they believe in him so steadfastly. While I have yet to find any Alex supporter that can give me anything other than the standard reasons that we've seen over and over here at AP, the fact remains that there are folks out there that have followed Smith's career very closely who just think Alex has the goods.
Whether or not that is true is something that we are going to bear witness to this coming season. I hope those fans are right. It would be nice to see some wins pile up around here. Joe tells me that he's going to be calling me a lot this season until he hears me saying that Alex indeed was the right choice. I look forward to hearing from him because that'll mean we are winning and doing so in style.
Good for you Alex Smith. You've done something right somehow to have fans like Joe singing your praises. The door is wide open for you in KC. If you get it done, there will be a very loud stadium that will give you some of the loudest love in the league. That's music to my ears, if it happens. I wrote a letter to Brady Quinn last year about how starved this fan base is for a leader. You can pretty much replace your name with Brady's and the thoughts are still relevant. Good luck this season. We are all pulling for you, and I don't think you really can understand how badly this fan base wants someone to believe in. It's yours if you want it. All ya gotta do is, reach out and take it...