Andy Reid knows more about quarterbacks than most quarterbacks know about themselves. The man affectionately know as Big Red has won seven division titles and advanced to a Super Bowl, all without the benefit of a Hall of Fame signal-caller in any of those campaigns. In 15 seasons as a head coach, Reid has made it to the playoffs 10 times.
On Sunday, Reid became joined at the hip with Alex Smith for five years at the cost of $75 million. Reid desperately wanted Smith when he arrived last offseason in Kansas City, and general manager John Dorsey made it happen by sending two second-round draft picks to the San Francisco 49ers.
Going into the 2013 season, wildly optimistic fans hoped for 8-8. Instead, Kansas City shocked the nation behind the guidance of Reid, a strong defense and the steady hand of Smith to an 11-5 mark and a playoff berth. In the playoffs, Smith was sublime even without the help of All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles. Smith tossed four touchdowns and threw for 378 yards in perhaps the most undeserved defeat of his career.
With his new contract set in stone, many are casting doubt on whether Smith can bring the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl since Jan. 1970. If you use the entirety of his career as a guide, Smith's contract is a disaster. Throughout his nine years, Smith has a 59.5 completion percentage and 104 touchdowns to 70 interceptions.
In 2013, his only season with Reid, Smith threw for a career-high 3,313 yards and 23 touchdowns to couple with seven interceptions. These numbers are not eye-popping, but brutally efficient. For those who believe Smith is only a caretaker of the football, consider that if Smith simply doubled the numbers of his final eight games from last year, he would throw for 3,792 yards with 36 touchdowns and six interceptions.
It does not take a quarterback throwing for 4,500 yards to win a Super Bowl, even in this millennium. When the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2003 and 2004, Tom Brady threw for 3,620 and 3,692 yards respectively while compiling 51 touchdowns and 26 interceptions.
When Ben Roethlisberger won the Super Bowl in 2005 with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he amassed 2,385 passing yards in 12 games, along with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. In 2008, Roethlisberger won again in the prime of his career. That season, he threw for 3,301 yards in 16 games with 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. For the record, Roethlisberger's average for his career is 3,411 passing yards per season.
The common thread? Good coach, smart quarterback, killer defense. If Bob Sutton figures out how to use all the talent at his disposal, it will be fun to watch. The secondary is still a work in progress, but that's another column.
Reid knows what he has in Smith. Reid sees a quarterback who will not cost him games and occasionally win one with little help. He also sees a player with potential to still improve, especially with consistently trusting his deep ball. Above all else, Reid knows he has a quarterback good enough to win the Super Bowl. Don't believe me? Ask 49ers fans. Smith was a few unfortunate bounces and a concussion away from perhaps appearing in consecutive Super Bowls.
This contract is not about the money for the Chiefs. It is about stability and clarity, something the franchise has not enjoyed since the Trent Green and Dick Vermeil days. For once, Kansas City has the two most important positions figured out in head coach and quarterback.
The money was well spent.