Let’s get this out of the way immediately: I do not agree with Andy Benoit when it comes to Alex Smith’s game against the Texans.
#Chiefs Film: Smith was more decisive and anticipatory this game. Too often his receivers failed to make the plays.— Andy Benoit (@Andy_Benoit) September 21, 2016
It’s a fascinating thing, because (as those of you who are familiar with Andy’s work and vouch for), Andy has long been a fairly strong critic of the Chiefs quarterback. I, on the other hand, have a reputation among many fans as being a guy who sees things as glass half full, including Smith.
But I just can’t agree with any take that even implies Smith did well against the Texans. In my opinion, he was bad. Real bad, much of the time.
If you don’t know what I do with these film reviews for Smith, the gist is this: every week, I’ll go back and re-watch the game on all-22, charting various deep stats and getting an overall impression on Alex. If you want to take a look at Week 1, feel free to click here (there’s also some explanation of the stats I’m tracking here). For the rest of you, let’s dive right in, get it over with, and never talk about the Texans game again.
Missed Shots: 6
Happy Feet: 5
Drops: 4 (62 yards lost, at a minimum)
Inaccurate Passes: 8
Potential Picks: 0
Drives Extended by Scrambling: 0
Franchise QB Throws: 2
Passes Behind the Line of Scrimmage: 4
Passes 1-5 Yards in the Air: 7
Passes 6-10 Yards in the Air: 11
Passes 11-19 Yards in the Air: 12
Passes 20+ Yards in the Air: 3
Percent of Throws Under 5 Yards in the Air: 29.7 percent
Percent of Throws 11+ Yards in the Air: 40.5 percent
Reads Per Snap: 1.77
Normally, this is the part where I’d throw a GIF up to demonstrate some aspect of what those numbers discuss. But I just don’t have it in me today. If you feel like it, check Twitter. There are plenty of screenshots and/or gifs at that link to discuss the plays Smith played poorly (though I don’t quite agree with all the analysis provided, the plays shown are a pretty good cross section of the issues he had).
Look, Smith was bad. As much as the offensive line struggled, a lot of the pressure they let through took at least two seconds to formulate. Smith hesitated way too much, danced around the pocket, and flat-out missed some open receivers while seeing ghosts.
At the same time, Smith also struggled more with accuracy than I’ve seen from him since the Vikings game last year. He missed some really easy shots within five yards of the line of scrimmage, and also threw some inaccurate passes down the field (one in particular to Conley was brutal) that hurt drives.
In the meantime, Smith was unable to make up for these shortcomings with his feet (zero drives extended via scrambling) or his arm (two franchise QB throws isn’t enough when you’re making mistakes like he was), and he didn’t compensate for the pressure that DID get to him (only one save).
I’ve seen Alex Smith have games where he missed about that many shots. I’ve seen games where he had happy feet as badly as he had them against the Texans. I’ve even seen games where Smith has been that inaccurate (though only one or two, really). But I can’t say I’ve ever seen him play a game in which he struggled so mightily with all three issues AND failed to produce plays on his own to make up for it.
You could legitimately talk me into the idea that Smith’s outing against Houston was the worst he’s played as a Chief.
Now, does that mean it was all on Smith? No. If I were to give you good (well, not good, but something resembling it) news, it would be that the Chiefs offense overall had some success at times moving the ball against Houston. They weren’t quite as ineffective as I’d assumed during the broadcast.
The problem was the timing of their mistakes. Every time the Chiefs got something going on offense, catastrophe seemed to strike. The very first drive of the game, which involved a pair of first downs prior to a botched shotgun snap exchange (seriously?), is very representative of how things went down for the offense.
The Demetrius Harris “drop” (yeah, that was a fumble) came after a play that would’ve left the Chiefs close to the red zone following them marching down the field. Momentum killed.
Ware fumbled after a nine-yard gain that would’ve put the Chiefs on the 40. Again, this happened on a drive where the Chiefs were moving the ball nicely. Momentum killed.
Smith’s fumble? Just two plays after a big gain by West on an option (which I really liked) and the Chiefs looking to score some points before halftime. Bye-bye any shot at momentum.
And don’t even get me started on the kick-return TD penalty. Just don’t.
The point is that the entire offense was just ... out of sync. Jeremy Maclin had a very rare off day, a few first down plays were dropped, some assignments got missed by the offensive line ... it was a bad day overall.
However, on days like that, it falls on SOMEONE to make something happen for the offense. Smith was able to be that guy against the Chargers, but rather than doing the same against the Texans, he contributed to the problems.
The Chiefs can’t legitimately push for a playoff spot if Smith doesn’t play better than he did against the Texans. And the can’t make any noise in the playoffs whatsoever once they get there if he doesn’t play SIGNIFICANTLY better.
We’ll see what happens. In the meantime, watch Dontari Poe humiliate someone and smile.
What Dontari Poe does to the center here is legalized assault. He played very well against Houston. Jones gets surprised by double team. pic.twitter.com/BpmMuyW2b1— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) September 21, 2016
As I’ve stated previously, Mrs. MNchiefsfan and I will be at the game Sunday. We’ll bring our rain gear, and we hope to see some of you there! Check out Tony’s roll call to try and coordinate stopping by his tailgate (where we’ll be hopefully around noonish or so until the game, depending on how things go). I’d love to meet as many of you as possible, even if so you can tell me how horrible my football takes are.