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Did Alex Smith leave the pocket too early?

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NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Chiefs Week 6 game in Oakland saw Alex Smith leave the pocket and try to run the on 3rd and 11. After some discussion on Twitter about Alex’s decision-making on this play, I wanted to take a closer look.

View From the Broadcast

It was 3rd and 11 with the Chiefs trailing by a touchdown in the first quarter. On the previous play Alex Smith was sacked by Khalil Mack, who had beaten Eric Fisher.

Smith took roughly one second to drop back, had another second to observe the field, and then took off running.

Maybe he was still thinking about the previous play where Mack got around Fisher and chose to go the safe route and tuck the ball and run. If you look at the play, however, Mack was too far behind Smith to effectively make a play (although I’m not the one in the pocket with a 250-pound Mack headed my way).

Coaches film at the line of scrimmage

Here is a view of the play from the coaches film in the trenches.

You can see some pressure emerging from the left side of the offensive line. Mack is getting around Fisher while Ehinger was getting pushed back a bit.

However, it doesn’t appear as though the left side of the line is completely deteriorating. LDT and Schwartz have the right side of the line under control. Smith apparently decided the pressure was coming too quickly and chose to try and make something happen with his legs.

Looking at this angle, Smith has a little bit of room to his right, and he also appears to have enough time to stand in the pocket and wait an additional second. For a quarterback, an additional second is a lot.

Coaches film from the secondary

Key in on the receivers here:

The receivers are all covered by the time Alex Smith decides to leave the pocket. If Smith had waited an additional second he may have been able to hit Maclin (Maclin is the receiver who stops running at the 40 yard marker). A passing lane was opening for Maclin and it did appear Smith had his eyes initially focused in Maclin’s direction.

It’s a Tough Play

To hit Maclin, Alex Smith would have had to stand firm in a pocket that wasn’t perfect and throw a 20 yard strike (or perhaps a touch pass) to Maclin. This would not have been an easy play to make.

We have seen Smith make this throw before on numerous occasions and I would mark this play as one of the few mistakes Smith made against the Raiders.

Of course we’d all be talking different if Smith stayed in the pocket too long, got sacked, and fumbled the ball.

What say you, did Alex leave the pocket too early? Or was the pressure forcing him out? I’m curious to read what others see.