The Chiefs released tight end Ross Travis on Monday, the club announced.
The issue is that Smith has just been playing worse across the board. The reason that simply adding a more aggressive streak to his game was so vital early in the season is because he had been playing well in other facets, and it had simply been the missing piece to the puzzle. Now he has found the missing piece to the puzzle, but lost all of the other pieces.
Running the ball well opened up the play-action pass, which allowed Smith to chuck the ball downfield and hit home runs, something he hadn’t done in previous seasons. He took advantage of the aggressiveness of defenses playing the run, which isn’t the case anymore with the decreasing success running the ball.
The latest loss came in a 16-10 defeat to Buffalo on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs had a season-low 236 yards on offense and questions about whether the team is in fact a playoff team are being asked.
“Yes, of course,” Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said. “We’re a good team.”
If the playoffs started today, the Chiefs would be hosting the Jaguars at Arrowhead Stadium. I don’t think that’s a good matchup for the Chiefs because the Jaguars defense is really good. The Chiefs — at least this Chiefs team right now — couldn’t score on that Jaguars team. The Jaguars do have a bad quarterback and the Chiefs usually beat the bad quarterbacks (save the last few weeks).
Throughout that time, you can find a pretty standard theme in the vast majority of my work regarding Alex, even as I refined my system and “stats:” he’s a decent but not great QB who gets a bad rap from many fans and is overrated by a few fans. In short, I like Alex Smith. He stabilized the QB position for the Chiefs after years of horrific play, does a lot of things to help the team win, and seems like a legitimately good person off the field. I have, on many, many occasions, been accused of being a “pro-Smith homer.”
I say all that to give some context for this next statement: Andy Reid should give serious consideration to benching Alex Smith and starting Patrick Mahomes.
Even if Smith keeps his starting job for the rest of the season, he’s making the decision easier for the Chiefs to switch to Mahomes next season. He’s also perhaps narrowing the market for his services among other teams.
One way or another, Smith faces an important stretch of games in December. If he can lead a revival, he’ll emerge as starter material, whether for the Chiefs or another team.
Hunt’s decline has mirrored the Chiefs’ inability to move the ball the last six games. Against Buffalo, the Chiefs had their lowest yardage output of the season, with just 236 total yards. Down six points in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs had two possessions where they could have taken the lead, but they stuck with the conventional playcalling and short throws that have become their hallmark. Both drives stalled at midfield, on fourth-and-4 and third-and-8, respectively—the latter finishing with a game-ending interception. Fans booed as he walked off the field. After going eight games without an interception, Smith has thrown four over his last three outings—half as many as he threw all of last season.
The downward spiral is not necessarily Smith’s fault. But head coaches and quarterbacks get more than their fair share of the credit or the blame in the NFL. And, in this case, Smith is receiving more of the blame than he probably deserves.
Still, it’s time for Coach Andy Reid to do something. Staying the course is not going to get this fixed.
The third-round pick opened the year with 609 rushing yards in his first five games and six touchdowns in his first three. He was simply unstoppable in an offense that used power read shovel concepts to keep defenses off balance.
It has dried up completely.
Hunt hasn’t topped 100 rushing yards since Week 5 and managed just 17 yards on 11 carries against the Bills. That’s especially surprising after Buffalo allowed a combined 638 rushing yards in the last three weeks.