KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The 17-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns will not go down as one of the better offensive efforts in the 2015 season for the Chiefs.
Yet within that poor showing, there were career-high and record-setting numbers for quarterback Alex Smith:
–With his 125 yards passing, Smith now has 3,330 yards passing on the season. That’s a career best for him, topping his two previous seasons with the Chiefs (3,313 yards in 2013 and 3,265 yards in 2014.) It’s the most yards passing for a Chiefs quarterback since 2005 when Trent Green passed for 4,014 yards.
–He ran six times for 54 yards, and now has 437 yards on 75 carries on the season. That’s the most yards rushing in a season by a Chiefs quarterback and the second most rushing attempts; Smith holds the top spot with his 76 runs in the 2013 season.
“Nobody works harder,” coach Andy Reid said of Smith’s ability to produce career-high numbers. “But it’s the consistency of working in the same offense, doing the same things for three years. You can see the comfort he has there.”
Smith’s accuracy as a passer and his role as a runner out of the pocket have been major parts of the Chiefs nine-game winning streak. That and his ball security – he’s handled the football on 490 passing plays and 75 runs. That’s 565 touches, without losing a fumble and throwing just five interceptions.
With the amount of exposure Smith has with the ball in his hands, the ability to run as many times as he has without coughing the ball up, is a remarkable achievement.
One thing that’s become very apparent is that when Smith pulls the ball down and starts to thread his way out of the pocket, he goes as a runner, not a passer.
He tucks the ball away, sometimes shielding it with two hands. That helps ball security because he handles it like a running back, plus he’s not looking to throw the ball under duress while trying to escape. That scenario is what leads so many mobile quarterbacks to throw interceptions.
Is the way Smith handles those running plays something that he’s changed, or has it been drilled into him by the coaches?
“I think it’s a little bit of both,” Reid said. “He knows where the seam is going to be in the front, so he knows where he can get through (the rush), then he knows what’s been accomplished by the route.
“If you go back and look, there are a couple guys that are open on shorter routes, but he knows that the defense has been cleared out of a certain area and knows that he can maximize even what could take place with that route. He’s got a sixth sense for that.”
And, it’s not something that even in tape study after the game, Reid would second-guess his quarterback’s decision-making on when to run rather than pass.
“I’m not worried about that; he’s got good judgment,” Reid said.
Bob Gretz is the senior editor for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @BobGretzcom.