It’s Thursday evening, it’s late, I’ve gotta be up early, and I’ve had a crappy week (being super emo about Jamaal Charles not coming back will do that to you). So let’s get right down to business. This will be a slightly abridged film review, so we’ll start quick:
Alex wasn’t good against the Titans.
Yes, I’ve written previously that Andy Reid definitely was overly conservative in the 2nd half. But Alex Smith played a role in the Chiefs’ loss Sunday too, and not just on his utterly horrific pick in the red zone.
Let’s glance at the numbers, then I’ll walk through a couple of GIFs and we’ll call it a week. Because it’s been a bad week, guys.
Missed Shots- 3
Happy Feet- 2
Drops- 2 (55 yards lost)
Inaccurate Throws- 4
Potential Picks- 0
Drives Extended with Legs- 1 (the touchdown run on 3rd and 11)
Franchise QB Throws- 3
Throws Behind the Line of Scrimmage- 7
Throws 1-5 Yards in the Air- 4
Throws 6-10 Yards in the Air- 6
Throws 11-19 Yards in the Air- 8
Throws 20+ Yards in the Air- 2 (1 complete, 1 incomplete)
Look, let’s get down to brass tacks, OK? The fact of the matter is Alex played a subpar overall game against the Titans, BUT did enough to where the Chiefs walk away with a win had other factors not played against them. In other words, he wasn’t the main reason the Chiefs lost, but he didn’t really do much to push them towards a win either.
Throws like this cannot happen when you're only taking a few shots. They just can't. Gotta hit open guys in the intermediate zone. pic.twitter.com/6WAdxU5DBb— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) December 23, 2016
One thing that it’s important for people to know: the third drive of the game going three and out was (in my opinion) all on Alex, not Andy Reid. Smith missed a couple of open receivers on only three downs, and also had a happy feet snap where he bailed on a clean pocket (which resulted in a missed shot). So the theory that Andy Reid making the offense more conservative is the only reason the Chiefs struggled is, quite simply untrue. Alex left some plays on the field against the Titans all on his own.
At the same time, it wasn’t all bad for the Chiefs’ quarterback. He did make some nice throws. However, when Alex DID do enough to make a play, other stuff seemed to get in the way.
I blamed Alex for this missed connection during the game. On review, looks way more like Hill misplayed it. Really good throw. pic.twitter.com/lpp57FeDJn— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) December 23, 2016
Like I said in the tweet, during the broadcast I assumed Smith just missed Hill by a few inches, placing the ball too far inside.
However, once I watched the play from the Madden Camera Angle, it looked a whole lot more like Hill simply misplayed the ball, fading out at the last moment then trying to recover back inside (just BARELY unsuccessfully) when he realized he was out of position to make the catch.
I talked about this with some fellow Twitter users for quite some time who insisted that Smith misplaced the ball here and it’s not on Hill. I gave that a lot of thought (after all, we’ve all seen Hill track the ball well consistently), but then went back and re-watched the all-22 angle a few more times.
Look at where Hill is when Smith releases the ball in relation to the numbers, then look where he ends up. Drifted too far outside. pic.twitter.com/EPHsfaSkIX— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) December 23, 2016
There’s no longer any doubt in my mind that the missed shot there is more on Tyreek than Alex. While drifting right is natural given the closing safety, it’s on the wide receiver (once the ball is in the air) to ensure he doesn’t drift TOO far.
Let me ask you ... how would you view that game had Alex chucked another deep bomb to Hill that resulted in a touchdown (or got the Chiefs at the doorstep)? Also, considering that drive ended shortly thereafter in a punt, it’s easy to speculate that the Chiefs walk out with a win if that throw is completed.
Now look, I say none of this to bag on Tyreek, who has been sensational adjusting to the ball far more often than Smith has thrown a good deep ball. However, it’s worth noting that Smith DID, in fact, make a few plays here and there that would have been enough to swing the game had everyone else done their job.
Of course, the flip side of this is that had Smith made more than just a few plays (or even just done his own job on the third drive of the game and a few other times, like the crushing RZ pick), then mistakes by other players don’t become the difference between winning and losing.
In short, Alex didn’t play as badly against the Titans as I thought while watching the game. However, he didn’t play up to the standard that we should expect from a quarterback we want to lead a playoff run. At a certain point, a quarterback needs to be part of the solution rather than just NOT being part of the problem (if that makes sense. Again, it’s been a rough week).
Alex played very well to close out the game against Denver, did a solid job against Atlanta and did quite a bit more good than bad against the Raiders. The game against the Titans was a demonstrable step backward in my opinion, which is unfortunate.
The only solution I see for the Chiefs’ current offensive woes is to start dialing up more of a vertical passing attack. Yes, I’m aware that it sounds insane. However, after re-watching the Chiefs vs. Titans on all-22 I was struck by how, for the fourth week in a row, the vertical passing game (deep and intermediate) was the best-looking part of the offense. Alex has been a great deal more accurate in those areas (not perfect, obviously, as the miss to Kelce shown here demonstrates) than he was early this season, and the playmakers the Chiefs have (Maclin, Hill, Kelce, Conley) are all guys who can win down the field.
Very little is working with the offense right now. Why not try something new and see what happens? The absolute worst case scenario is that the offense stinks. Well, the offense is looking pretty bad already, so what do you have to lose? Of course, Denver is a rough team to start dialing up a pass-heavy attack, so we’ll see what happens moving forward. But I very sincerely hope Reid at least decides to take a shot. Because if not now ... then when?