At only 24 years old, Kansas City Chiefs’ right guard Trey Smith has a lot of postseason experience to draw from as he approaches the AFC Championship against the Baltimore Ravens. In his third season, Sunday will be Smith’s ninth playoff game: he has won seven of eight, including Super Bowl LVII.
The Ravens will be the Chiefs’ toughest test this season, but that’s not just because of the talented roster and coaches. It’s a further step deeper into the playoffs, where only four NFL teams remain. There is a rise of intensity that an aggressive, physical player like Smith has felt over his three career runs to this conference title game.
“You have to bring it day in and day out,” Smith told reporters in a press conference Friday. “When you get into the playoffs, everything is so much faster, there’s so much more importance to every snap.”
“That’s probably the biggest thing from my rookie year,” Smith reflected. “Adjusting to that: understanding the severity that every play has. You have to be on the top of your game.”
The powerful guard has undoubtedly been evidence of that so far this postseason run: against the Miami Dolphins, Smith was the lead enforcer en route to the Chiefs’ 147 team rushing yards. The unit followed that up with 146 yards against the Buffalo Bills, where the running backs combined to average 7.5 yards per carry.
During the last two weeks, he has taken care of notable defensive linemen like Miami’s Christian Wilkins or Buffalo’s Ed Oliver. However, Smith is more a believer in self-reflection as the fuel to rise to the occasion at each level of the playoffs.
“It was just a concerted effort to bring a lot of attention to what we’re doing, a level of focus play in and play out,” Smith reflected. “It goes into the preparation and confidence in the game plan, and just executing when it matters.”
He will carry that mindset into a matchup with a top defense featuring a very disruptive defensive lineman in Justin Madubuike. Primarily rushing against interior offensive linemen, he has 13 sacks this season, earning Pro Bowl honors for the first time.
“He’s a great defensive lineman,” Smith acknowledged. “It’s the NFL, man. Everyone’s good up front. If you go across all 32, you’re going to find a dog up front. He’s a great player, and great players require more attention at the end of the day. It’s just more attention to what I’m bringing up against him, being sharp with my technique.”
According to PFF, Smith has allowed two pressures over the 75 pass-blocking snaps he has this postseason. Neither resulted in a quarterback hit, let alone a sack.
It wasn't the team's most efficient running day, but KC trusted the OL to get it done when they needed— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) January 16, 2024
13p, GH Power where the front side of the OL can just focus on collapsing down the DL
Jawaan Taylor & Trey Smith bury Wilkins in the first play pic.twitter.com/A06zUn6fyr
On top of that, he has paved the way for some strong runs, either widening the run lane or taking out a defender in space. It has been a considerable factor in the Chiefs’ three-game win streak and may be as important as ever in Baltimore.
Trey Smith understands the physicality and intensity he brings to the table will be needed for all four quarters.
“At the end of the day, Football comes down to just football: who’s going to play the hardest, the longest, that’s who’s going to get the win.”