Sunday Night wrap-up: The new Alex Smith is the best Alex Smith

AP

Perhaps the secret to unleashing the best of Alex Smith isn’t trading a future first-rounder to draft his replacement.

Perhaps it’s just letting him be Alex Smith.

The Chiefs quarterback continued his quest to kill the tired old stereotype of being a game-manager (as if that’s a horrible slur) with another exciting performance in Kansas City’s 42-34 win over Houston to keep them undefeated (5-0).

Smith finished the game 29-of-37 for 324 yards and three touchdowns, which was normal for the season.

In his first four games, he was completing 76 percent of his passes, but he’s been accurate before. The biggest difference is his ability to go deep and stay so efficient.

He’s averaging 8.8 yards per pass attempt this year, which is a decent indicator of his ability to move it downfield. To put that into context, his career average was 6.8 yards per attempt, and he had only topped 7.5 yards per attempt once in his career (8.0 with San Francisco in 2012).

The ability to go deep is also helped along by having players such as wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce. But the biggest difference may be Smith himself.

Perhaps there’s a certain psychological liberty in knowing Patrick Mahomes is going to take his job sooner rather than later, but Smith is taking more shots downfield and is more effective than ever. Coupled with the accuracy and mobility he already had, it’s helping him become one of the top quarterbacks in the game, with no qualifiers. Not the best at avoiding disaster, but one of the best at making plays.

The Chiefs have him under contract through 2018, so they might decide there’s no reason to hustle him out the door for the shiny new toy.

And if they do, there will be a quarterback at the height of his powers available to the highest bidder, which would make for a fascinating offseason.

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. With Texans defensive end J.J. Watt out for the year with a tibial plateau fracture (and perhaps other damage pending further tests), they’re going to have to adjust again.

They still played good defense without him last year, with Jadeveon Clowney emerging as more of a force.

But the loss of their cornerstone of the community and the team will still be difficult for the Texans to overcome a second time. They’re injured in the secondary and running short on replacements.

There’s also a legitimate concern about Watt long-term. After back problems cost him 13 games and now this rehab, he’s going to be 29 years old next season and coming off a pair of major injuries.

While it would be a mistake to count anyone out who works the way Watt works, it’s also going to be a different struggle.

2. With the loss of Watt, the Texans are going to need more than a defensive end. They’ll need an identity.

Rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson is showing he might be able to provide just that.

His fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Will Fuller might not have mattered in the micro, but it showed his capability to change games at a macro level.

Watson evaded a rush, slid to the side and fired a 48-yard touchdown pass. That’s the kind of big play the Texans have lacked, and as he grows and develops a rapport with a legitimate star wideout (DeAndre Hopkins) the Texans could become an offense to be reckoned with. Of course, they’ll want to protect him, and having left tackle Duane Brown around would help.

But the Texans are becoming Watson’s team in a hurry, and the memories of the Tom Savage era are slipping away quickly.

3. The Chiefs get plenty of attention for an offense that is rich in playmakers.

But they have plenty of guys on the other side of the ball as well.

Defensive end Chris Jones forced a fumble in the first half, continuing a strong first half of the season which has included a player of the week award. Along with linebackers Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson and cornerback Marcus Peters, they have players who can create turnovers at each level.

But they’re also getting good production from some replacements, with players such as Frank Zombo stepping into bigger roles in the injury absence of Dee Ford.

It’s impressive the way they’ve held things together, and almost easy to forget they lost their best defensive player — safety Eric Berry — out for the season with a torn Achilles and Tamba Hali on the physically unable to perform list.

4. They’re also solid on special teams, even if not by design.

Rookie kicker Harrison Butker is doing everything they need him to do, hitting all his field goals and showing plenty of leg on kickoffs. He boomed seven of his nine kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. When the Texans started bringing them out in the second half, it had sort of a “what the heck” vibe. (And when you score the way the Chiefs do, touchbacks are a valuable currency.)

The Chiefs plucked Butker off the Panthers practice squad when Cairo Santos was placed on injured reserve. The Panthers kept him through the first wave of cuts and into Week One, but ultimately elected to stick with veteran Graham Gano.

But Butker, a seventh-round pick from Georgia Tech, has been a good investment for the Chiefs, especially after last week’s game-winner against Washington.

5- The NFL has devoted considerable time and research into head injuries.

It remains an inexact science.

Kelce took a hard shot to the helmet from Texans safety Marcus Gilchrist before halftime.Gilchrist was flagged for a personal foul, and Kelce was taken to the sideline tent. He came back into the game before the end of the first half.

In the third quarter, he was taken out to be evaluated for a concussion. Obviously symptoms can crop up later, but it’s certainly unusual for Kelce to have gotten back into the game so quickly when there was clearly reason for concern.

30 responses to “Sunday Night wrap-up: The new Alex Smith is the best Alex Smith

  1. That’s funny, all I heard was Collibsworth saying how good Watson was and poor Texans lost 2 defensive starters.

    Welcome to the club! Chiefs are down about 6 starters and manhandled the Texans in their house.

  2. kcchefs58 says:
    October 8, 2017 at 11:56 pm
    Deshaun Watson – the king of garbage time
    —————
    Lol. Until this year Alex Smith wasn’t good in garbage time or, more importantly, when it mattered either.

  3. I know the Texans lost two top pass rushers early but I did not know that the pass d is worse than any I’ve seen so far, even worst than the Packers. Smith ran around the right side for big gains all nigh long. Passed to guys wide open all night long. Yes they lost two guys but they didnt lose everyone.

  4. Aaron Rodgers sat behind Brett Favre for 3 seasons. I know this is the impatient era in the NFL where if a QB isn’t producing by year two people start calling him a bust but would it be crazy to sit Mahomes for a couple of seasons?

    The story of Smith’s career. He keeps chugging along while teams keep trying to replace him with the newest shinny toy.

  5. In the scheme of things, that was rather easy. Other than the chuck and hope stuff, it was a total domination.

  6. Patrick who? For that matter, Kareem who? ‘Canton-bound’ Deshaun ‘Hall of Fame’ Watson, aka ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ aka ‘2017 NFL Rookie of the Year’ puts an end any doubt as to who is not only the best rookie QB but the NFL’s best rookie period.

    Have said it before, say it once more: wish my Chiefs had drafted Watson, who is not only head & shoulders the best NFL rookie but after just 5 games is behind only another future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers in td passes, 14-12. That Watson also has more td passes than my Chiefs Alex Smith yet has thrown fewer passes than both Smith & Rodgers, impressive to say the least.

    The jealousy expressed by fellow Chiefs fans (including this thread), their ‘Watson is a bust and Mahomes is the new Favre and Hall of Fame bound’ nonsense preseason results etc. is really a poor look my fellow ‘Show Me State’ fans. Give credit where credit is due… Watson is a STAR, and Mahomes is riding the pine. If Alex Smith continues to do well, he will also be the starter in 2018 and beyond and Mahomes will be traded elsewhere, latter a modern day version Pete Beathard, who likewise could not beat out Len Dawson the 1960’s.

  7. Don’t you worry like the movie Groundhog Day once the playoffs starts someone on the sideline will come out with a MIRROR and remind Alex smith on who he is.

  8. well, looks like Alex is headed to the hall of fame – if your using the cheating terrell davis standards!
    Glad the Chiefs won! Great team, classy fans and they are one of the teams that plays straight, no cheating and no history of it. thats something worth respecting, even if you dont like them.

  9. kcchefs58 says:
    October 8, 2017 at 11:56 pm
    Deshaun Watson – the king of garbage time

    ————————-
    For a rookie QB just starting his development thats actually an excellent thing to be.

  10. dualprime says:
    October 9, 2017 at 12:02 am

    I never seen sore winners before, lol.
    —————————

    Check out the Seahawks sometime. They lead the league in complaints after a win.

  11. Kerouac says:
    October 9, 2017 at 1:26 am

    Patrick who? For that matter, Kareem who? ‘Canton-bound’ Deshaun ‘Hall of Fame’ Watson, aka ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ aka ‘2017 NFL Rookie of the Year’ puts an end any doubt as to who is not only the best rookie QB but the NFL’s best rookie period.
    —————————–

    Calm down there drama queen. Who cares how many touchdowns he throws if they aren’t winning? Besides, he only has one more TD than Smith.

  12. Kerouac says:
    October 9, 2017 at 1:26 am
    Patrick who? For that matter, Kareem who? ‘Canton-bound’ Deshaun ‘Hall of Fame’ Watson, aka ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ aka ‘2017 NFL Rookie of the Year’ puts an end any doubt as to who is not only the best rookie QB but the NFL’s best rookie period.

    Um, Deshaun Watson did not Win last night. Check back in 3 years and we will see who is the better NFL qb between him and Mahomes. Houston would have drafted Mahomes anyway if both players had been available. Deshaun Watson is a Good Qb, but he is lucky he has Hopkins and Fuller. Watson just throws it up and they have to go get it. Not like he is threading the needle or anything.

  13. It all comes to an end in the playoffs. Chiefs implode because Andy Reid can’t find a win in the big games. And the Texans crumble when Watson gets snapped in half, much like Robert Griffith the turd in his Canton-bound rookie season. Anybody remember him? Enjoy the success while the sun is still shining, but realize…winter is coming.

  14. whybotherifeverythinggetscensored says:
    October 8, 2017 at 11:57 pm
    Remind me again why San Francisco choose Kaepernick over Alex Smith. Things that make you go hmmmm.
    ———-
    Because maybe Kaep was taking the league by storm and took them to the SB, something Alex Smith couldn’t do in all his years there.

    And even now it’s too soon to say, we may have a usual Chiefs playoff choke coming again, he still hasn’t done anything. Needed a loaded team to finally put up 300 yards. Let’s see how he does in the postseason.

  15. likuidsmoke says:
    October 9, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Needed a loaded team to finally put up 300 yards.
    ——————-

    Most quarterbacks need someone to throw to in order to have success. It also helps to have more than one.

  16. likuidsmoke says:
    October 9, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Because maybe Kaep was taking the league by storm and took them to the SB, something Alex Smith couldn’t do in all his years there.
    ———————–

    Weren’t they a couple of muffed punts away from going to the Super Bowl with Alex Smith?

    Weren’t they winning before he went down with a concussion, and was replaced by Kaepernick?

    Isn’t Kaepernick out of the league, with numerous people saying he is a terrible quarterback?

    It’s pretty clear that when he is given some talent, Smith is a good quarterback.

  17. Looks like my Pats might be traveling to KC if we make it that far in Jan. Have to admit, I love how Andy does the Cheeeeeeeeefs locker rooom fist pump after a win.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!