As training camp opens up, most Chiefs fans are watching the debut of rookie Patrick Mahomes. After the team traded up to select him in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Mahomes is poised to be the QB of the future in Kansas City.
However the future is the future and the present is now. And the present belongs to incumbent starter Alex Smith.
Smith isn’t as flashy as Mahomes and has become known for being more of a check-down quarterback. While he won’t throw 50 yard bombs every game, he has proven he doesn’t need to to win. Last season he helped lead the Chiefs to a 12-4 record and the AFC West title.
The only problem for Smith is that his dinky-dunk passing doesn’t work in the playoffs. A Super Bowl winning quarterback needs to be able to be a play maker and be creative on offense. A guy like Tom Brady wins every year because he has the ability to make every throw no matter the circumstance. Smith is able to move the ball downfield, but once defenses figure his strategy out he is toast.
The Chiefs clearly saw Smith’s flaws which prompted them to select Mahomes. After the Chiefs took such a big risk, not many are expecting a stellar season from Smith. Most expect him to play his regular game manager role before being ousted by Mahomes in 2018.
That is of course everyone expect NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison.
Harrison recently wrote an article, dealing out one bold prediction for every AFC team. For the Kansas City Chiefs he predicted that: Alex Smith will start every game and post a 100 passer rating. He went on to write:
Only once in his career has Smith soared past a 100 passer rating, and that came in an injury-shortened campaign. Of course, speaking of soaring, that’s exactly what Smith’s detractors say his passes don’t do — i.e., that Smith is a dump-off king. Perhaps Smith takes the safe route more often than not, but given the strong ground attack the Chiefs have featured during his time there (K.C.’s run game has ranked 15th, sixth, 10th and 10th the past four seasons), it hasn’t always been necessary for Smith to put much air under the ball. Nor has Kansas City possessed a DeSean Jackson- or Torrey Smith-type of receiver. The risk of drafting Patrick Mahomes raised many eyebrows around the league — almost certainly none more than those of the incumbent starter. That’s why Smith will put together his best all-around campaign in Chiefs red.
For starters, predicting Smith to start all 16 games is bold in itself. It’s rare you see a first round rookie quarterback, especially one drafted in the top 10, sit out an entire season. While there’s a possibility that Mahomes disappointing, it would be shocking if the former Texas Tech QB didn’t make starts towards the end of the year.
What’s even more shocking is predicting that Smith will finish the season with a passer rating above 100. As Harrison points out, Smith has only done this once before. In 2012 Smith held a 104.1 passer ratings. However he appeared in just 11 games, putting an asterisk next to the accomplishment.
Earning a 100+ passer rating has become extremely difficult throughout the years. Last season only Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Dak Prescott, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees accomplished the feat. Not since 2013 has more than six players held a passer rating over 100.
Of the five players listed only Brees didn’t receive an MVP vote. While Smith isn’t the same caliber quarterback that those five men are, holding a passer rating over 100 will certainly help. If the Chiefs remain in contention and Smith limits the turnovers, there’s a chance he could be in the MVP conversation.
Most Chiefs fans are getting ready for the Patrick Mahomes era. But Alex Smith has atleast one more year at the helm. If Elliot Harrison has his way, he will end up as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL during the 2017 season.
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