Alex Smith: Life Preserver

This is an article about Alex Smith; not his contract extension, not what it means for the Chiefs – it’s about what he can do for a franchise.

Buuuuuttttt I’ll probably touch on the other stuff before we’re done here.

I’m still working on this analogy so bear with me: I’m beginning to liken Alex Smith to a life-preserver. By that I mean he can keep your franchise afloat for a while but there’s no certainty he can “rescue” you with a Lombardi trophy. He’s a temporary solution to a much larger problem.

It sounds a little crazy, but stability is nearly as important as talent at the QB position. Pardon the hyperbole, but talent can only take you so far. It always looks great on paper but let’s be honest: the best team doesn’t always make the best team.

Look no further than Herm Edwards’ tenure in Kansas City to see what uncertainty surrounding your Quarterback(s) can do to a franchise. The Chiefs have been reeling ever since Robert Geathers bounced Trent Green’s brain off the turf and out of the NFL.

Today we’re going to do an exercise that eliminates as many variables as possible to try and truly evaluate Alex Smith’s standing in the QB fraternity. There will be no discussions of individual attributes or rankings of any kind. It’s very simple: if Alex Smith is your Quarterback, are you a playoff team?

Admittedly, this is nothing more than an eyeball test. We’re not going to be concerned with divisional/playoff structure (see: the NFC West), rather a simple yes or no answer based on my opinion. I will also include whether or not I believe Alex would be an upgrade or downgrade for each team right now.

If you’d like to join in this exercise, you can reply in the comments section below or check out my contact page for email/twitter and respond that way. Let’s begin, shall we?


we want AS


New England Patriots – this team is obviously loaded with talent, despite constant snickering about their WR corps. Rumor has it Alex hates WR’s anyways. YES – clearly the Pats go to the playoffs with Alex Smith despite him being a sizeable downgrade from Mr. Brady.

New York Jets – the answer to this question says more about what you think of the Jets than what you think of Alex, in my opinion. Are they more competitive with him? Absolutely – I think he’d be a major upgrade… but are they a playoff team? NO. I highly doubt it.

Miami Dolphins – a very similar situation to the Jets. I think Miami is a long ways from being truly competitive and Alex doesn’t change their team dramatically so we’ll say NO here. However, I do think he makes the team better than Tannehill.

Buffalo Bills – Alex Smith is a dramatic upgrade for Buffalo and looks like a great fit for Doug Marrone. The defense is excellent in stretches and holy crap they’re loaded on offense. YES. They would be an immediate contender.



Cleveland Browns – their defense is quietly fantastic and their OL is one of the best in the league. Even without Josh Gordon, I think the Browns would be extremely competitive with Alex Smith at QB. Are they a playoff team? I’ll say NO for now but this one is tricky.

Cincinnati Bengals – one of the more talented rosters in the NFL and Alex might be a little better fit for the Bengals than Dalton, honestly. This is a no-brainer: YES.

Baltimore Ravens – frankly, I don’t think this team is very good. They’re facing a major transition on both sides of the ball that’s been on the horizon for some time. I think Alex brings more stability to the position than Flacco, but NO they’re not a playoff team.

Pittsburgh Steelers – much like their division-rival Ravens, Pittsburgh is reeling from the loss of so many key contributors over the past few seasons. Roethlisberger is the pulse of this team so it’s hard to consider Alex anything but a downgrade. NO.



Houston Texans – ready to win now, except their QB position is shaky on its best day. If Alex Smith were running the offense in H-Town, they might actually be favored to win the division. YES.

Jacksonville Jaguars – it looks like Gus Bradley is headed in the right direction in many respects, but this is still an incomplete team. NO, Alex Smith doesn’t make them playoff ready.

Tennessee Titans – a criminally under-rated team in my opinion, but Alex would change that perception almost instantly. He’d be a great fit for new coach Ken Whisenhunt. YES.

Indianapolis Colts – no one should be impressed with the Colts but somehow they keep getting done. Heaping praise on Andrew Luck has become standard practice. This is a toss-up for me but I’ll say NO to the playoffs and a downgrade for the team.



Oakland Raiders – no one can help this franchise make the playoffs. NO ONE.

San Diego Chargers – after losing Whisenhunt as offensive coordinator, I’m honestly not so sure where this team stands in 2014. Boom/bust kind of roster. The Phil Rivers/Alex Smith debate is one I can’t quite decide. Rather than letting you all have a field day, I’ll say Alex is a downgrade and stick with NO playoffs.

Denver Broncos – clearly Peyton is the engine but Alex doesn’t slow this team down. YES.

Kansas City Chiefs – we’re not a playoff team this season. NO.


AFC playoff results: oddly enough, we have six playoff teams to 10 non-playoff teams. Keep in mind the AFC is widely regarded as being pretty freaking terrible.

Upgrade/Downgrade: the Chiefs can’t be counted here so the results came out to be 10 upgrades and five downgrades across the AFC.



Philadelphia Eagles – kinnnnnnda feel like Alex is the perfect QB for Chip Kelly. There’s no telling what Nick Foles will amount to but his 2013 season was spectacular. I think Alex is an upgrade in Philly and YES, they’re a playoff team with him at the helm.

New York Giants – not sure about this one because I kinda think the G-Men are terrible. Coughlin needs to retire already. Eli may have two rings but his play is so unpredictable I’d rather have Alex running the show. Either way, it’s a NO on the playoffs.

Dallas Cowboys – arguably the worst defense in the history of the NFL and their coaching is almost as bad as their General Manager. Tony Romo is my dude. NO.

Washington – the ebb and flow of having a young QB can damage the psyche of a team. Alex brings maturity and stability to a franchise in desperate need. YES.



Chicago Bears – their defense could be a bit shaky this season but obviously they’re ready to compete in the immediate term. There might be a few less “explosive” plays but they’d be a hell of a lot more consistent than with Cutler out there. YES.

Green Bay Packers – I’m convinced that Aaron Rodgers is the only thing the Packers have going for them. That defense is horrendous. NO.

Minnesota Vikings – their offense is ready to go and Zimmer knows how to at least get that defense to play competitively until the talent is there. YES.

Detroit Lions – I’d say this is a push, but give the edge to Stafford because of their propensity to go vertical. Until this franchise shows any sort of coaching savvy and/or discipline, there’s simply no hope of them making the playoffs. Alex doesn’t change that. NO.



Atlanta Falcons – let’s see: finished last in rushing in 2013 and is transitioning to a 3-4 defensively. Alex would be a downgrade from Matt Ryan but Atlanta probably isn’t making the playoffs regardless. NO.

New Orleans Saints – obviously Brees is a superior player but Alex Smith with Sean Payton would be really fun to watch. Their defense could be awful, but they’re pretty opportunistic. YES.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – better than both McCown and Glennon and I’m already on-board with what Lovie is doing down there. YES, they make the playoffs with Alex Smith.

Carolina Panthers – 2013 was a fluke, in my opinion. Rivera needs to go and the team sorely needs to add talent on both sides of the ball. Cam is more talented, no question… but does that have to mean the team wouldn’t be better with Alex Smith at QB? Probably a push for me, but we’ll say it would be a downgrade. NO playoffs either way.



Arizona Cardinals – their defense will be challenged by the losses of Washington, Dansby and Dockett but I still really like this team. Alex doesn’t really fit with Arians’ style but he’s a significantly better option than Carson Palmer. YES.

St Louis Rams – the team everyone wants to believe in. Then there’s Sam Bradford. Oh wait… Shaun Hill. Neither would matter, but Alex makes them extremely competitive right away. YES.

Seattle Seahawks – who am I kidding? He’s no Russell Wilson, but of course this team still makes the playoffs with Alex Smith. YES.

San Francisco 49ers – I don’t know that San Fran makes the playoffs regardless of whether it’s Kaepernick or Smith leading the way. Too many losses on defense to assume they’ll stay afloat. Because they’re loaded with talent (albeit unproven in many respects) I’ll say YES, but Kaepernick makes the playoff path a bit easier for them.


NFC results: 10 playoff teams, six non-playoff teams.

Upgrade/Downgrade: this one split right down the middle – 8 upgrades and 8 downgrades.


Where we stand: Alex Smith would be an upgrade for 18 of 31 possible teams and barring a few outliers would make roughly 16 of the 32 teams playoff caliber. I was being overly conservative with the playoff teams (especially the AFC) because so many franchises have tremendously flawed rosters and/or coaching staffs.

The most interesting thing I took away from this “analysis” is that the Chiefs were not one of the 16 playoff teams I chose. More on that later this week.

It would be silly of me to debate that Alex is much more than a place-holder… only the Chiefs don’t seem to have his predecessor on the roster. In the interim, they are stable at Quarterback and can attempt to build-up the rest of the roster until they feel it’s time to move on.

Complacent. Cowardly. Condemned. These are the things the cool kids might say about John Dorsey and Andy Reid giving Alex Smith an extension. Did they need to do it right now? Probably not. But NFL teams don’t play around with hypotheticals the way fans/analysts/amateurs do. They’re running a business, above all else. Alex Smith: life preserver.

Much like many of you, I want the team to “dare to be great” at the Quarterback position but this contract doesn’t have to mean the Chiefs did something wrong. They have a signal-caller they like right now and decided to commit to him for a few seasons. If your preference would have been waiting-out the season prolonging the inevitable, it only puts you one year further away from a guaranteed split.

My advice:

  1. Trust Andy Reid.
  2. Enjoy being competitive for a few years.
  3. Hope we draft and/or groom someone in the meantime.


Andy Reid and John Dorsey aren’t “done” now that Alex has signed an extension. They will continue to evaluate the position and will search tirelessly for their future signal-caller. Honestly, look for them to draft another one next year considering how many compensatory selections they have in addition to their full compliment of picks.

Call this QB purgatory if you like, but by my count having Alex Smith as your starting Quarterback would be an upgrade for over half the league. Think about it. Write it down. See for yourself. You might be surprised just how fortunate we are to have him in Kansas City.



** Stay tuned this week for a constant barrage of Chiefs coverage, our NFL PreDirktions and some sweet ass fantasy football knowledge from our experts at

One thought on “Alex Smith: Life Preserver

  1. Pingback: Football Savages / Alex Smith: What could have been but never was.

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