Let us appreciate Alex Smith

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The Eagles and Patriots may be playing in the Super Bowl, and Alex Smith beat them both in the first two weeks of the season. After bowing out in the playoffs, as usual, the Chiefs provided a big headline Wednesday night, trading Smith to the Washington Redskins for a 2018 3rd round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller. Smith has also agreed in principle to a 4-year, $94 million deal with $71 million guaranteed. The trade is expected to be finalized, but can’t become official until the new league year begins on March 14. I do doubt that the Skins feeling about Smith will change between now and then, however. Both teams are saving money. The Redskins, who would have paid Kirk Cousins $34M next year if they elected to franchise him, are paying Smith half of that (although there is a rumor that they will franchise tag him and then trade him).

Smith leaves behind a resurgent franchise that was downtrodden and quarterback-deficient when Andy Reid and John Dorsey gained his services in 2013. It’s funny that Kansas City went from having no quarterbacks to too many in half a decade. Fan support may have always wavered, and many still believe he’s the prime reason they’ve been no more successful in the playoffs (1-4 in the Smith era), but he did help bring respect and consistency to the game’s most important position. Now, he’ll be expected to guide Washington to the playoffs for the first time since 2015. Although, he won’t have the weaponry or the coaching staff he had in KC, in addition to a subpar offensive line, which is why I believe this was an absolute steal of a trade for the Chiefs, and the first major move from GM Brett Veach. Not only do they gain the $17 million from moving Smith, but a stellar 22-year old cornerback who excels in the slot. After watching All-Everything Eric Berry. The Redskins, on the other hand, get a quarterback four years older than Cousins who has possibly already reached his ceiling. A defense that was also already not the strongest unit just lost a valuable piece, so Dan Snyder may be making another one of his signature moves that will ultimately fail in a year or two.

The biggest winner of all might be Cousins, who is freed from an organization that has disrespected him for three years now and gets the opportunity to play for a winning franchise. The downside is most of the QB-needy teams are no better or worse than the Redskins (Browns, Jets, Bills) but two teams, Denver and Arizona, have quality franchises and automatically become playoff contenders with Cousins leading their offense.

Smith, 33, in his five years in KC, threw for 17,608 yards (3,522 yards per season), 102 TD (20), and 33 INT (7) in 76 starts. Derided as a game-manager, Smith shed past labels and ended up leading the NFL in passer rating (104.7) last season, thanks to 4,042 passing yards and 26 scores. We all knew 2017 had the potential to be his last year in KC, given the presence of QB Patrick Mahomes, whom the Chiefs traded three picks to acquire. After his game-winning fourth quarter drive in the season finale at Denver, the hype around the Mahomes era exploded, and with Smith out the picture, the expectations and possibilities will soon hit a fever pitch.

Despite all his limitations, the Chiefs lack of playoff success, and presence of Mahomes, Smith was an inspiration, becoming a leader for a franchise seemingly devoid of any. Smith’s toughness and resilience helped him battle through subpar blocking and a division full of elite defenders. He didn’t crush the offense with backbreaking turnovers, but he did lead nine fourth quarter comebacks. The Mahomes era is upon us, but let’s appreciate what Alex delivered us.

Here are my Top 11 Alex Smith moments (Note: many are from the 2017 season):

11. Alex Smith…the receiver?

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10. January 4, 2014: This play was memorable for me because it proved (although we wouldn’t see much more for a few years) that Alex Smith can throw vertically – a 79-yard bomb to Donnie Avery.

averytd

In the game – one of two epic playoff collapses in the Smith era, the 378 passing yards and four touchdowns were nearly enough to lead Kansas City to its first playoff win in two decades. The four scores broke Joe Montana’s franchise record for TD passes in a playoff game. He helped put 44 points on the board, and did it without Jamaal Charles, who went down on the game’s first drive, and later lost Knile Davis and Avery. For the fun of it, Dwayne Bowe went for 8-150 in this one.

9. November 9, 2014: Nobody talks about how tough Alex Smith really is.

Smith TD gif

The 12-yard TD run in the 17-13 win exemplified Smith’s toughness.

8. (TIE) September 7, 2017: In the first game of the NFL season, in front of the whole nation on Thursday Night Football, the “new” Alex Smith emerged. The result was a 500+-yard offense game and 42 points against the Patriots.

Blown coverage or not, this was an amazing throw:

Alex-Smith-is-bombing-all-over-the-Patriots-just-like-no-one-expected

This one requires Smith to lead Kareem Hunt with the ball and hit him in stride. Any less and he’s tackled or the ball gets broken up:

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6. October 8, 2017: You just can’t make a better throw than this:

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Again, the Chiefs dropped 42 on National TV, this time Sunday Night Fotoball. The Chiefs were 5-0

5. December 16, 2017: Nothing to see here, just Alex Smith roasting one of the NFL’s best corners:

giphy-8

Notice a Tyreek Hill theme? You can’t overthrow the cheetah, but kudos to Smith for making the throws. And yes, again on National TV. This time, Saturday Night Football, with the Chiefs sitting at 7-7 in a must-win.

4. October 2, 2017: CLUTCH!

ASmith9

In OT, against what is now his new team, Smith found the dude that always seemed to be there when Smith needed him – Al Wilson, and it’s the reason the Chiefs should bring him back for 2018 (oh, and his career game at Denver, with Mahomes).

3.  January 16, 2016:

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I mean, COME ON! The 3rd and 7 conversion extended a drive that ended in a Smith to Wilson TD.

2. September 11, 2016: Capping off the comeback of a lifetime:

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Once down 24-3 in the middle of the third quarter, the option keeper completed the largest comeback in franchise history, 33-27 in OT.

1. January 9, 2016:

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Steve Bono couldn’t do it. Elvis Grbac couldn’t do it. Trent Green couldn’t do it. Neither could Damon Huard or Matt Cassel. But Alex Smith did it. He delivered Kansas City it’s first playoff win since Joe Montana crushed the dreams of the Oilers faithful way back in 1994. This one, also in Houston. Unfortunately, it was Smith’s only playoff win in Kansas City.

Good luck to Alex Smith, the only QB in franchise history to the lead the team to consecutive AFC West crowns. Good for him for getting paid. Thank you for bringing us back to prominence and being the bridge to the “franchise” QB.

***

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