When the Kansas City Chiefs signed Alex Smith to a long term extension two weeks ago, it was natural to raise expectations for him but he did not get off to a stellar start in Week 1 with three interceptions and one touchdown.
The key to any offense is a manageable third down situation. Having the ability to call any play in the play book on third down is important. The goal is to get three yards per play so teams want to find themselves in the 3rd-and-3 range. The Chiefs offense was in that position just one time last Sunday against the Titans, and Donnie Avery jumped offsides.
After the charting every Chiefs Week 1 passing plays, the pattern became clear: get the ball out in three seconds or less and if the first two progressions are not open get rid of the football.
|Gun||2||Screen||Yes||Davis 3yds||LH||2.5||11||In Front|
|Gun||2||No||No||Sack||RH||6.9||11||Sacked- Throw Away|
|Gun||1||No||No||Fasano Incomplete||RH||1.65||11||Low In Front|
|Center||2||No||No||Fasano Screen||RH||2.26||11||On Point|
|Center||2||Yes||No||Avery PA Pass||LH||2.73||12||Behind on Comeback|
|Center||2||No||No||Hammond 25yd Gain||RH||3.24||21||In Stride|
|Gun||1||No||No||Avery Screen||LH||1.29||11||In Front|
|Center||1||No||No||Kelce Gain||LH||2.65||12||In Front|
|Gun||2||No||No||Ball Batted Down||RH||1.77||12||Batted|
|Gun||3||No||No||Avery Inc||RH||3.82||11||Low Behind|
|Center||2||Yes||No||Kelce INC||Center||2.09||21||Loft In Front|
|Gun||8||Yes||No||Smith Scramble||RH||3.29 to 11.79||20||Nobody Open|
|Gun||3||Yes||No||Smith Scramble||RH||6.47||11||Missed Charles|
|Gun||1||No||No||Throw Away||RH||2.7||11||Throw Away|
|Center||2||Yes||No||Avery Interception Miscom||LH||2.53||12||Behind on Go|
|Center||2||Yes||Yes||Charles 4yd||Center||2.03||12||In Stride|
|Gun||2||No||No||Kelce 10 yd||LH||1.66||12||Behind Right|
|Gun||1||Yes||No||Avery INC||RH||2.18||11||WR Fell Down|
|Gun||3||Yes||No||Smith Sacked||LH||3.86||11||Missed Charles|
|Gun||2||Yes||No||PA Avery Interception on Post||RH||3.11||12||Behind Right|
|Center||3||Yes||No||Avery 15yds||RH||2.7||11||On Point for Comeback|
|Gun||2||Yes||No||Avery Catch||LH||1.8||11||Low on Comeback|
|Gun||2||Yes||No||Hammond INC||LH||2.05||11||High Throw|
|Gun||2||No||No||Hemingway INC||LH||2.27||11||High Throw|
|Gun||3||Yes||No||Hammond INC||LH||2.56||11||On Point for In Route|
|Gun||3||Yes||No||Avery 25 Yards||LH||2.87||11||In Fron Sideline|
|Gun||1||No||No||Hemingway INC||LH||2.24||11||High On Point|
|Gun||1||Yes||No||Fasano 10yd First Down||LH||2.24||11||In Stride|
|Gun||2||Yes||No||Fasano INC||LH||2.02||11||Wide Right (Holding)|
|Center||1||Yes||No||Kelce 10 yd||LH||1.39||12||Yes On Point|
|Center||1||Yes||No||Fasano TD||LH||1.79||11||Behind Left Hip|
|Gun||2||Yes||Yes||Charles 2yds||RH||2.89||11||On Point|
|Center||3||Yes||No||Avery Catch||LH||2.81||11||Behind Right Hip|
|Center||2||No||No||Avery Catch||LH||1.3||11||On Point|
|Gun||2||Yes||No||Fasano INC||LH||2.2||11||Wide Left Fasano|
|Center||1||Yes||No||Avery INT||LH||2.28||11||Late On Point|
The play calling did not work to the strengths of the Chiefs. The Chiefs needed to eat up chunks of yardage to set themselves up with manageable third down situations because Smith has limited accuracy when asked to stretch the field. Jamaal Charles, who had just 11 touches, can obviously help the Chiefs there.
The key for the Chiefs offense is to spread the ball around to Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Travis Kelce, Anthony Fasano and De'Anthony Thomas (when healthy). Those players have the ability to get YAC which will eliminate Smith's need to be aggressive downfield and keep the offensive line from being exposed.
All three interceptions in the Titans game came when Smith was targeting Avery, who saw 13 targets in the game. Both players deserve blame for the interceptions. Let's take a look at them.
Interception No. 1
The Chiefs are backed up in their own endzone. The Titans are not expecting to be tested deep. Donnie Avery runs a nine route with inside positioning on the corner. He is remaining true to the boundary. Quarterbacks like when their receivers stay on top of their route because it allows room for error on a throw.
Avery decides to change his route from what looks like a go to a skinny post. At this point, the ball is already in the air and Avery realizes he has to become the defender. The yellow X illustrates where the route was when Smith released the ball. Because of the placement of the ball, Avery must now fight for the ball and attempt to knock it away from the defender but he is unable to do so. Interception.
Interception No. 2
The Chiefs are deep in their own territory again. The offense runs a play action pass with three reads. It is a high low combo with Avery running a post across the field and Kelce running a sitdown route. Smith aggressively pushes the ball downfield to Avery. I put a red X to show the ideal spot to throw this ball to, which would allow Avery to run under it and catch it in stride.
Also notice that Smith missed his check down -- AJ Jenkins in the flat with wide open space.
In the photo above it shows pressure coming into Smith's face. The defender has bull rushed through the double team of Rodney Hudson and Zach Fulton. Smith is forced to change his launch point and can not open his front foot and rotate into the throw. That alters the placement of the football which forces the ball to hang up in the air longer.
This ball was underthrown. Avery must now become the defender again but for some reason he decides to attempt to catch the ball in his body. It doesn't work. Interception.
Interception No. 3
The final interception is on Avery. Smith could have thrown the ball earlier but at this point your receiver has two interceptions under his belt. Any quarterback can doubt what they are seeing. Smith waits for Avery to get his head turned around on the slant before he throws. Smith pats the ball and waited for Avery's head to turn.
Avery again wants to catch the ball in his body. The risk you run with that decision is the ball popping out when you get hit. Receivers are supposed to attack the football with their hands extended, secure it and turn up field. Avery has a habit of catching the football with his body. It led to one of the interceptions on Sunday.
Alex Smith has weaknesses. He needs to drive the ball better and the only way he can do that is proper mechanics with a clean pocket and good launch points. He doesn't have the arm to make up for those when they're not there. Smith reminds me a lot of Trent Green. Both have accurate arms. They are tough players. The difference being Green was afforded a clean pocket with one of the best offensive lines in recent memory. Smith, on the other hand, can look like a piñata at times.
It is Andy Reid's job to use the play calling to the strength of his players abilities. The coaching staff spent a majority of last year scheming to get receivers open while covering up deficiencies on the offensive line. It looks like the play track on this offense will be in repeat mode for a while.