Former number one overall pick Alex Smith is finally going to have an opportunity to turn things loose and open up his offense. After being mired in a coaching carousel in San Francisco, and never being used as more than a game manager, he will finally have the chance to show off the skills that made him the first player taken ahead of 2005, the very same draft Aaron Rodgers came out of.
The Kansas City Chiefs are coming off a disappointing 2-14 season last year that earned them a number one selection this year’s draft. Bringing in Smith not only gave them aquality passer, but it allowed them to protect him with lineman Eric Fisher with the first overall pick in this year’s draft.
Buzz around this team has been building throughout the off season, and the atmosphere around the Chiefs facilities certainly does not feel like this was the worst overall team in football last year. This feels like a team with big aspirations going into this season, one that believes it is a contender.
The weapons surrounding Alex Smith in this offense look just as dangerous, if not more so than what he had at his disposal last year in San Francisco. Now this claim may seem absurd to those of you who only look at the records of the two teams. However think about the receiving corps for instance. Dwayne Bowe is one of the top talents at the position in all of football, recently stating that he plans to lead the league in both yards and touchdowns this year. Pair that with a first round talent that is being pressured to finally produce in Jonathon Baldwin, and Smith and the Chiefs have two men they can turn loose on the opposition this year.
Running back is another area where one could argue the Chiefs are superior to the 49ers. Jamaal Charles is now two years removed from his devastating ACL injury, whereas Frank Gore of the 49ers is getting older and has been expected to start to decline for several years now.
According to the Kansas City Star, new Head Coach Andy Reid has charged up the offense in an attempt to turn Alex Smith loose from being simply a game manager. So far in OTAs, the paper reports that he has unleashed a “barrage of big passing plays.” We haven’t seen a vertical offense like the one Reid is apparently implementing in Kansas City for quite some time.
High praise for Smith has been easy to find in his new town. Quarterback Coach Matt Nagy has stated that “he’s been everything that we thought he was. He’s a true professional. He’s in his playbook every day. He’s always asking questions, trying to get better. He’s being a leader for the other quarterbacks as well.”
Alex Smith had perhaps his best season as a starter going for him last season before he was benched in favor of Colin Kaepernick. Smith had an astonishing 70% completion rate with 13 touchdowns and just five interceptions. Numbers like that rarely get someone benched, but the situation in San Francisco was anything but usual last year.
If the Chiefs cut Alex Smith loose this year, and use the big play potential of their receivers, this offense has the explosiveness to make this team a contender. The Chiefs have made a lot of the right moves so far this off season, reshaping their team from 2-14 laughing stock to potential contender in just one off season.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express