The Kansas City Chiefs' offense ranks a middle-of-the-pack 18th in the league, according to FootballOutsiders.com, and Alex Smith is 20th in QB efficiency. The 2005 first-overall pick, who spent the first eight years of his career in San Francisco, is also completing just 56.5 percent of his passes (his lowest conversion rate since 2007).
But the Chiefs are 6-0, tied for first in the AFC West with the Broncos, and easily the biggest surprise of this young season. Coach Andy Reid credits much of that success to Smith's ability to oversee the offense.
“Listen, he's taking care of the football, and when it counts, he makes the plays. I appreciate that,” Reid said. “We're winning football games and he's doing a nice job of managing it, and everyone feeds off it, both sides of the ball, his ability to manage it.”
So what you're saying, Andy, is that Smith is -- what's the word -- a game manager?
That was rhetorical because that's exactly what Smith has been this season, and we mean that in the most laudatory sense.
New defensive coordinator Bob Sutton has taken virtually the same players and turned the Chiefs' D into the league's best unit. That means that Smith doesn't need to win games with his arm, but just … well, manage not to lose them. And he's been brilliant in that role.
“Alex has a big arm, he controls the offense and he makes plays when he has to,” wide receiver Dwayne Bowe said. “If I'm taking two people, he's going to get the check-down. We're going to play conservative. We're not going to make mistakes.”
The Chiefs face the Texans this week, and Houston coach Gary Kubiak has been impressed by Smith thus far.
“He's brilliant, smart,” Kubiak said. “I had a chance to visit with him when he was coming out [of college]. I think he fits exactly what Andy wants to do. He has the opportunity to make plays with his feet when things break down. I've always been a fan.”
From the perspective of mid-October, the offseason trade that sent Smith from San Francisco to Kansas City seems like the best thing that could have happened for his career. Even if he's not clear on the whole "game manager" thing.
“I have no idea what that means,” Smith told NFL Network last week (via PFT). “At this point in my career I've been playing long enough that I don't really care what anybody's saying. I care about the guys in this locker room, the guys in this building and going out there and winning football games. They can call me whatever they want to call me as long as we're winning, so fine with me.”
Here's the thing: Despite the Chiefs' cream puff schedule through the first six games (yes, we know, the Broncos have had virtually the same easy road to 6-0; we discussed it in detail here), there's the very real possibility that Kansas City will be 9-0 when they face the Broncos for the first time in Week 11. The Chiefs' next three games are against the Texans, the Browns and at the Bills. Then they'll have their bye week before heading to Denver with their all-he-does-is-win game-managin' quarterback.