Week 12 Gameday Focus for San Diego Chargers: Force Alex Smith to Beat You
The one limitation that skeptics of the Kansas City Chiefs’ hot start point to is their quarterback Alex Smith. His arm strength is average, his accuracy is average, and his overall play – you guessed it – average. Still the Chiefs hadn’t lost a game in the NFL until last week so they will present a formidable challenge to the San Diego Chargers with their raucous crowd at Arrowhead Stadium. If the Bolts have any hope of pulling out a victory they need to force the game onto the right arm of the man under center for Kansas City.
In today’s pass-happy NFL with the suspect secondary the Chargers have presented this season that type of bravado may seem like a death wish. With Smith at the controls of the Chiefs’ offense, however, the Bolts could see some mild success if they can take the ball out of the hands of running back Jamaal Charles and place it into the mitts of Smith.
It certainly doesn’t help the Chiefs quarterback that his receiving corps really doesn’t overwhelm anybody. Dwayne Bowe is making a boat ton of money, but his numbers are at career lows this season. Donnie Avery is a solid option, but no one will confuse him for a game-breaker. Dexter McCluster is listed as a wide receiver, but his route tree definitely has some limitations.
To put it frankly, the Chiefs shouldn’t scare the Chargers through the air.
And with Andy Reid calling the plays in Kansas City, the Bolts can assume that the ball will be flying quite a bit. Reid has always been known as a pass-happy fellow when it comes to calling plays, and even though he changed locations his style has remained the same. The Chiefs are throwing the ball 58.2 percent of the time this season which ranks 18th in the league. This seems mild on the surface, but digging deeper we see that those numbers have climbed in recent weeks. In their last three games they have been airing it out 61.3 percent of the time and their most recent game against the Denver Broncos saw them throw on a staggering 65.75 percent of their offensive plays.
For a team with a weapon like Charles in the backfield, abandoning the run seems like a very foolish endeavor indeed. He has only topped the 20 carry plateau on four occasions this season, and that’s an awfully low number for a guy with his talent.
Even though the Chargers’ 16th ranked run defense is much more stable than their 27th ranked pass defense they would gladly take Alex Smith dropping back 30-plus times on Sunday over Jamaal Charles touching the ball on 20 or more occasions. A key to convincing an already pass-happy coach to abandon the run even more quickly is getting an early lead, so the Chargers must jump ahead of Kansas City and cross their fingers this weekend.