totaled career bests in completions, passing yards and touchdowns in 2013. (Michael Conroy/AP)
The Kansas City Chiefs were knocked out in the first round of the 2013 playoffs after the second-biggest blown postseason lead in NFL history, but that shouldn't minimize their entire season. One year after they went 2-14, the franchise got a new head coach in Andy Reid and a new quarterback in Alex Smith and turned things around to the tune of an 11-5 mark. That final record was actually a bit of a disappointment after a 9-0 start -- as was the quick playoff elimination -- but it's easy to see the Chiefs as a team very much on the right track.
Smith wasn't the main reason for that; Kansas City's defense and running back Jamaal Charles were the primary difference makers. But as he did for the San Francisco 49ers in 2011 and parts of 2012, Smith played efficient and relatively mistake-free (if not always exciting) football. The Chiefs got him in a trade with the 49ers on Mar. 12 of last year, and in Reid's offense, he completed 308 passes in 508 attempts for 3,313 yards and 23 touchdowns -- all career highs. Typically, Smith's interception ratio was very low -- he threw just seven picks (1.4 percent of his attempts), which worked with a team led by a strong defense and explosive running game.
Now, according to a report from the National Football Post, the Chiefs will look to extend Smith's contract in the offseason.It's a wise move, and Smith is certainly bringing momentum into the discussion. In that playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Smith completed 30 of 46 passes for 378 yards, four touchdowns, and no picks.
Since he was taken with the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft and became an optimal sort of "game manager" after years of hard knocks in San Francisco, Smith has elicited questions about his ability to become a true franchise-level quarterback. Those questions were magnified when Colin Kaepernick replaced Smith during the 2012 season, never gave the job back, and took the 49ers to the Super Bowl. For all his efficiency, Smith has always struggled to make big plays with his arm consistently, which will limit his contractual value in a long-term situation. He's coming into the final year of the three-year, $24.5 million contract he signed with the 49ers in Mar., 2012, and he'll command a $7.5 million base salary in 2014. If he's able to put up the same kinds of numbers next season, that will be a bargain -- and he's proven that he can play at a level commensurate with a mid-level deal.
The next question for the Chiefs is whether they will choose to take a quarterback high in the upcoming draft, even if they have Smith inked for a longer period of time. It's a very good class at the position and Reid is an excellent developer of quarterbacks.