All right, Arrowhead Pride, it’s time to resolve an interesting question. A friend of mine and me got into a rather spirited debate regarding one particular play by Alex Smith and Travis Kelce late in the game against Denver.
At issue is whether Smith made a good play or a bad play. Now, I’m going to show you a few different views of the play, then I’d like you to give your opinion as to whether Smith made a good play or a bad play here. I’ll present (briefly) both arguments as to why it was good/bad, as well as several angles of the play. You be the judge.
Why are we doing this? Well, I think it’s instructive to see what people value in a quarterback and how that affects the way we view individual plays. Also, it’s Saturday and I have a few minutes of spare time for once.
So here we go... there’s 6:41 left in the 4th Quarter. The Chiefs are facing 1st and 10 from their own 37-yard-line. Alex drops back and attempts a throw to Kelce, which falls incomplete. Here’s a Madden Cam view of the play.
Kelce had a rough day for drops vs DEN. This was his third. Not an easy catch, but not that hard either. Placement SEEMS to be intentional. pic.twitter.com/StLy46xgzY— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) December 3, 2016
Now, before we even try to talk about whether that was a "good" play or a "bad" play from Smith, let’s take a look at the play from all-22 angle so we can see where the rest of the receivers are at throughout the play.
Pay particular attention to Chris Conley at the bottom of the screen and Knile Davis coming out of the backfield after a play action.
Here's the all-22 view of an incomplete pass to kelce in the 4th Q. Going to be using it for an article shortly (I hope). pic.twitter.com/PpzYAAPY7z— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) December 3, 2016
So, this is your opportunity to have your voice heard...
The "good play by Smith" argument is that Smith saw an open window to Kelce, his second read, provided that he made an accurate throw with anticipation. It’s a small window, and not the type of spot you generally see Smith throw to, so it’s a good thing to see him being aggressive with his throws. Ultimate question: is Travis Kelce actually open? This "side" would say, "yes, that’s open for an NFL receiver and a throw you want your QB to be willing to make and stick."
The "bad play by Smith" argument is that Kelce isn’t really open with that many defenders around, and the superior play is that Smith step up in the pocket and look for either 1) Davis, who has some space to roam out of the backfield, or 2) Conley, who does a really nice job absorbing early contact in his route and gets separation deep. Ultimate question again: is Travis Kelce actually open? This "side would say, "no, Kelce isn’t really open and there are more ‘open’ players on the field, so Smith didn’t do his job in finding the best option."
It’s an interesting exercise, and I’m not sure there’s a right or a wrong answer here (though I’m sure many of you will tell me otherwise). But again, this is instructive in figuring out what you value from a quarterback and what you look for on a given play.
So tell me, AP, is this a good play or a bad play from Alex Smith?