Not long ago, Alex Smith was drawing all sorts of praise for the Kansas City Chiefs’ 5-0 start. But since then, the Chiefs have lost five of their past six games to drop to 6-5. And many believe that Smith is a big part of the problem and needs to be benched.
Head coach Andy Reid isn’t ready to go this route, though. And he said that he never considered benching Smith in favor of rookie Patrick Mahomes during the team’s 16-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
“No,” Reid told the press. “That’s not where I’m at right now. There were a couple other things I’ve got to take care of.”
Reid may not be ready to bench the incumbent starter yet. But should he reconsider in the near future? Let’s cover the matter by discussing both Smith’s recent dismal performances along with what Mahomes brings to the table.
Playing the Unknown
Mahomes came to Kansas City with a high pedigree after a strong career at Texas Tech. He played so well that the Chiefs made him the 10th overall pick of the 2017 draft.
What we do know about Smith is that he’s normally a solid quarterback. Obviously we haven’t seen this in the past two games, as he’s thrown 3 interceptions against just one touchdown.
But looking at the 13-year veteran’s complete season, he has thrown for 19 touchdowns against just four interceptions. It’s easy to see why Reid doesn’t want to rock the boat, especially with the team still in first place in the AFC West.
But the problem is that Smith has played poorly during the recent three-game losing streak. He’s been so bad, in fact, that Kansas City Star columinst Sam Mellinger has labeled him the “worst player” on the team right now. If this type of play continues, the Chiefs might not even make the playoffs.
Smith Has been Benched Before
This situation in Kansas City isn’t entirely new for Smith. In fact, he dealt with a similar scenario in 2012 when he was a member of the San Francisco 49ers.
Smith suffered a concussion in the ninth game of the season. Colin Kaepernick, who was a raw but talented quarterback, took over the position. And Kaepernick played well enough to lead San Francisco to the Super Bowl. If not for a pass completed just the short of the goal line, they could’ve been Super Bowl champions.
Mahomes is slightly different than Kaepernick because the latter was in his second season. Furthermore, some around the league believe that the 22-year-old needs more time to develop. But with the team now spiraling downward after their perfect start, it doesn’t seem ridiculous to give the rookie a chance.
Has Kansas City Peaked with Smith?
The Chiefs currently hold a one game lead over the LA Chargers and Oakland Raiders in the AFC West. It’s not unfathomable to think that if Smith plays better, they can hold onto this lead and make the playoffs.
But even if this happens, how far can they go in the postseason with Smith? It’s highly unlikely that they do anything better than winning a Wild Card game. Their next opponent would probably be either the New England Patriots for Pittsburgh Steelers, both of whom would crush them.
The obvious risk is that Kansas City inserts Mahomes and he’s totally unready for the challenge. This would cause the Chiefs to lose their division lead and subsequently be pushed out of the playoff picture.
However, it must be asked if Smith’s efficiency is really worth keeping him on the field. After all, the Bills – a team that had previously given up 135 points in its past three games to the Jets, Saints, and Chargers – held Kansas City to 10 points.
Mahomes is the Future – Why Not Start Him Now?
Given Smith’s age and the high draft pick that Kansas City spent on Mahomes, it’s almost a given that the latter will start in 2018.
Smith would need a monster finish to this season to remain the starter next year. And it doesn’t help Smith’s cause that the Chiefs can save $17 million in cap space by cutting him in the offseason.
This is all very likely to happen before the start of next season. And if this is indeed the case, why not simply start playing Mahomes now?
The ultimate fear is that this blows up and becomes another Nathan Peterman situation. However, it’s hard to see Mahomes failing this badly. He is, after all, a 10th overall pick; Peterman was only a fifth-rounder.
Kansas City has been a solid playoff team in recent years. But they want more, and Smith is unlikely to get them to the next level.
It’s also possible that Mahomes doesn’t push them to this point either. However, we’ll never know until he actually takes the field.
Smith deserves a lot of credit for what he’s done with the Chiefs. He was instrumental in helping Reid turn the franchise around after Romeo Crennel’s disastrous 2-14 season.
But the problem is that this year is quickly spinning out of control. Both the Chargers and Raiders are playing better than Kansas City right now. So it’s entirely possible that they’ll pass the Chiefs at some point, given the current circumstances.
If this is going to be a lost season, why not give it meaning by getting Mahomes some experience?