For years now, Kansas City Chiefs new quarterback Alex Smith has been burdened with the “game manager” label. Despite the fact that most use the term to knock Smith and his lack of big-pay ability, he’s embraced the role, and it’s just what the Chiefs needed.
Smith was his typical good, but not great, self on Sunday when Kansas City won its opening game convincingly against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Sure, Jacksonville may very well be the worst team in the league this year, but considering the Chiefs were the worst team in the league last year, a win is a win.
And Smith was the biggest difference for the Chiefs this year. He didn’t put up gaudy numbers; he never does, but he played well in the red zone and didn’t commit any turnovers. That ability to hang on to the ball is what will make the difference for the Chiefs this season.
There is no statistic in football that has a higher correlation to wins and losses than turnover differential. It’s brilliantly simple: if you hang on to the ball and take it away from your opponent, you’re going to win games. The Chiefs found that out the hard way last year, when they were dead last in the league with a -24 difference in turnovers.
This season, Alex Smith and his ability to manage the game will keep the Chiefs in the plus column when it comes to turnovers. That will be the difference between winning and losing — not to mention the difference between a team that was picking first in the draft last spring and one that will be competing for a playoff spot this season.