The biggest move of the NFL offseason to date has been the Kansas City Chiefs’ acquisition of quarterback, Alex Smith in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers. The deal will be official when the new league year begins on March 12th. The Chiefs are receiving a lot of credit for this bold move, but is Smith a good fit for the Chiefs?
The better question is does Smith fit with new head coach Andy Reid’s offense? The consensus opinion is that it is a match made in heaven, and Smith will flourish in Reid’s version of the west coast offense. After some thought, I’m not sure the Smith/Reid marriage is a good one.
There’s no doubt that Smith has enjoyed a career resurrection over the last two seasons with the 49ers, but he was in a completely different offense than the one he will be running in Kansas City. The 49ers under head coach Jim Harbaugh are a run first team and run play action off of that. They do not ask their quarterbacks to drop back 35-40 times a game, something Smith has struggled with throughout his career.
In games that Smith has started and was asked to throw the ball more than 35 times, he is only 3-16. Reid’s offenses have averaged slightly over 35 passes per game, and he is not a coach that has been open to changing his system.
It never mattered who the quarterback was when Reid was the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, Reid was going to throw the ball. Michael Vick really never fit into the west coast offense, but that’s what they ran. If Reid is willing to change, then Smith has a chance to do big things with the Chiefs.
The Chiefs primary offensive weapon is running back, Jamaal Charles and the offense should be built around him and the running game. However Reid had great running backs with the Eagles including Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy, but the passing game always came first. The Eagles were at their best when Reid swallowed his pride and ran the ball 50% of the time, but his ego often got in the way.
So the question becomes, can Reid change his stripes? Smith can be very effective throwing the ball 20-25 times a game, especially off of play action. However if Reid asks Reid to throw the ball 35-40 times a game, then this is going to be a disaster. Smith is a decent NFL quarterback, but he’s never going to be the guy that can beat teams by throwing the ball 45 times a game. He needs a running game and a coach that knows how to manage an offense. To date, managing an offense has not been in Reid’s character.
The Reid/Smith experiment can work for the Chiefs but only if Reid tailors his offense to fit his new quarterback, something he has never done in his head coaching career.
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