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Andy Reid Backs Alex Smith, But How Much Longer Can He Keep Patrick Mahomes on the Sidelines?

The Chiefs drafted Mahomes in the first round this year. Did the team really expect his fans to quiet down when Alex Smith struggled?

The 2005 Green Bay Packers remain unmatched in modern NFL history with regard to one key aspect—no team has been able to pull off their quarterback-in-waiting scenario quite like Ted Thompson and Co.

The 2017 Kansas City Chiefs were the latest team to try and sell this patient strategy to fans; one that ended earnestly on Sunday when the team lost its third straight game, and fifth in their last six outings. Alex Smith, who started the season as a legitimate MVP candidate, has flat-lined. Over the past month, he’s gone 89-of-141 (63.12%) for four touchdowns and four interceptions—a 78.7 quarterback rating. Over his first eight games? 16 touchdowns, no interceptions and a 115 passer rating.

On Monday, head coach Andy Reid defended Smith, telling reporters that “Alex is my guy.” There is almost no doubt Smith will remain under center in Kansas City so long as the Chiefs are in the playoff picture.

Patrick Mahomes remains a vision of the distant future, a first-round pick Chiefs fans believe to be their offensive talisman.

In a column Monday, The MMQB’s Andy Benoit explained exactly why the freewheeling Mahomes needs time on the bench. This was a draft pick grounded in the long-term payoff, not a quick fix. His improvisational approach to a collegiate-style offense will take time to erase. Although, clips of this prodigy showcasing his natural ability provide the sort of dream inducing visuals that force fans to abort common sense reasoning.

Smith represents a ceiling. Mahomes is outer space.

There are few Smart Football People advocating for Smith’s benching, but as we noted in last week’s Panic Meter, Reid’s problem with drafting Mahomes was never going to be Smart Football People. Once a team selects a quarterback in the first round, a stopwatch goes off in the gut of every season ticket holder. College quarterbacks, now more than ever, require time and patience but how well did that work out for Chicago? Houston? Pressure and losses mount. Best laid plans turn to dust.

Reid and Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy now shoulder the responsibility of quieting this miniature storm. Clearly, Kansas City does not want to play Mahomes or else a modified Smith-to-Colin Kaepernick transition would have taken place three weeks ago. Their offense, as beautiful and maddening as it was during their season-opening blowout of the New England Patriots, has become a paint-by-numbers pattern for opposing defenses to follow. There were moments during Smith's MVP-type run that transcended his much-hated game manager label. That is the head space they'll have to uncover in their quarterback once again.