Breaking down how Alex Smith put Kansas City in a prime position to be the next dynasty
Derrik Larsh @dlarsh15 Chiefs Focus @Chiefsfocus
When you think of former Chiefs Quarterback Alex Smith what comes to mind? The most common is Game Manager, the guy who was great in the regular season but could never get over the hump in the postseason. What if I was to tell you he can be described as a building block, who put this team in a fantastic position to allow his team to succeed for years after his departure?
His Maturity set the standard
By the time Alex Smith got to Kansas City, he was already a Mature veteran with 8 years in the league, but he had already shown the maturity of a savvy veteran even before he arrived in Kansas City. Being the number one pick already puts pressure on any player being the number one pick to a franchise with a rich history like the San Francisco 49ers is a whole other story.
Smith went through a lot of turmoil during his time in San Francisco including going through 4 different head coaches and 6 offensive coordinators including 5 new coordinators in 5 consecutive seasons making it difficult to be a consistent starter and was always in a constant battle to keep the starting job.
Smith always keep his head up and battled through adversity. Once Jim Harbaugh came in Smith began to take off leading the 49ers to their first NFC Championship game in over 20 years. All of the lessons he learned would come in handy during his last season in the bay, as Smith during the 2012 season had the 49ers on course to make another run to the Superbowl missed two starts mid-season after suffering a concussion, and backup Colin Kaepernick successfully filled in.
A quarterback controversy began with Kapernick taking the reins and leading the 49ers to a Superbowl appearance, through everything smith was a constant professional and support his team and Kapernick.
He gave the chiefs stability and was a winner
Alex Smith was traded to Kansas City in 2013, he came to a team coming off a 2-14 record only 3 postseason appearances in the previous 10 years, and a revolving door of quarterbacks since Trent Green.
Kansas City was definitely in a rebuild. Smith coming into Kansas City the team was able to start to build a team for the future without having to sacrifice a competitive level. Smith not only brought stability but also brought a winning football team to Kansas City with a winning record every season as a starter, 4 playoff appearances, and 2 AFC West Division titles during his 5 years in Kansas City.
He also brought the Chiefs to their first playoff victory in 20 years. As Smith never took Kansas City to the big game he did, however, bring a winning culture that the fan base was starving for years before his arrival.
My favorite Alex Smith performance was week 1 in 2016 vs the chargers, the Chiefs found themselves down 21 to the divisional rival including down 17 in the fourth quarter Smith led the team to an overtime victory and going 34-48 for 365 yards and 2 touchdowns and 1 on the ground where he would not be denied getting into the end zone. I think the final play in that game encapsulated Alex Smith’s time as a chief always willing to do what needed to be done to get the win.
To carry on the theme of stability Alex Smith was allowing the Chiefs to build their championship roster while not having to rush in finding any quarterback. Finding their quarterback while not having to waste draft picks on rookies or use them to trade other veterans, allowed the Chiefs to have the capital to make a trade/pick when they found their guy. Imagine if the chiefs were not able to draft guys like Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, or Chris Jones who became Key pieces to this franchise because the picks were traded away or used to take a quarterback in the draft.
Setting up Mahomes and the Chiefs for success
When Kansas City finally found their guy in Patrick Mahomes II, a lot of people felt like this was a dig at smith and others thought it was a great player who needed some work and can be groomed for a few years, in reality, Mahomes could have been a starter day one with the roster but what Smith did was allow Mahomes to take that next leap from college to the professional level.
So when the time came the team could make the switch without missing a beat. His maturity came into play during his final season. He was having a career year while fans fell in love with his backup as Mahomes dazzled fans and players with his arm and play making ability.
The Chiefs were rolling that season starting 5-0 then after losing 6 of their next 7 games people started calling for Mahomes to take over but Smith kept fighting leading the team to 4 straight wins to end the season.
This was a great lesson for Mahomes and the team as well on handling adversity which was a big component of their super bowl run 2 years later. When the time came for the Chiefs to hand the reigns over to Mahomes and move on from smith, Alex did it with grace and professionalism never complained or made a fuss, but was willing to help Mahomes in any way he could.
Alex Smith may not have become a Superbowl champion or even an MVP, but the things he did accomplish for this team can not be measured or documented enough. He set a standard of excellence for any team he was on and chiefs fans should always be grateful for the Alex Smith years even going into 2022 are still benefiting from what his time in Kansas City.