One of the qualities the Chiefs like in new quarterback Alex Smith is his recent history with few turnovers. Smith threw just 10 interceptions in his last 25 games for the San Francisco 49ers, a stat that looks extremely pretty in Kansas City after Chiefs quarterbacks committed 27 turnovers last season.
By ADAM TEICHER
The Kansas City Star
Smiths low turnover rate was due at least in part by his reluctance to throw the ball down the field. He was referred to by frustrated 49ers fans as Captain Checkdown for his habit of throwing shorter patterns to receivers for shorter gains.
Smith is in the process of being reprogrammed by Andy Reid, his new coach. Reid doesnt want to turn Smith into a turnover machine but wants him to be more aggressive, particularly during offseason practice.
You want to get a feel for the offense now, particularly when youre new at it (and) if there are close throws, challenge it, see what you can get away with, Reid said. If it ends up being an interception, OK, its an interception. You learn from it. These are smart guys so they learn from it and once they get into the season, theyre not experimenting with it on game day and they know what they can get away with and know what they cant.
Its a new offense. I would tell any quarterback that comes in new that thats what you need to do. Ive told them all that. Go ahead and take your shots and see what you can get away with, within reason. But if its a close throw, there are going to be a few of those in the National Football League on game day so you need to know what you can get away with on each route.
Smith and the other Chiefs quarterbacks were rewarded with several long completions in Wednesdays practice. Smith had three such plays, including two to Jon Baldwin, while Tyler Bray and Ricky Stanzi had one apiece.
Wednesdays barrage of big passing plays isnt necessarily an indication the deep ball is back in the Chiefs offense. But since such plays have been scarce for the Chiefs in each of the past two seasons, theyre taking it as an encouraging sign.
Were just kind of continuing to press to see what we can do finding out what were capable of, Smith said. Youve got to find that out at some point. This is what the practice field is for.
Smith was the NFLs highest-rated passer last season before he was injured, missed a start and then replaced by Colin Kaepernick as San Franciscos starting quarterback. Smith was completing more than 70 percent of his passes, a high rate, and had just five interceptions.
Still, he had just 30 touchdown passes in his final 25 starts for the 49ers. While thats a good number as a ratio with his 10 interceptions, it still represents a shortage of big plays.
Smith wont turn into a mad bomber overnight, if he ever does.
You want to stay aggressive, Smith said. But in the end Im always trying to make the right read and throw where the defense is telling me to throw. You dont come out here and predetermine anything, like Oh, Im going to chuck it deep on this play. Im constantly trying to just trust my eyes and what Im seeing out there, trust my reads and what Ive prepared for and then come out here and throw good balls.
For his part, Reid might be OK with that. But for now, when an interception costs the Chiefs nothing, he would prefer Smith be more of a gambler.
Everybody is all on board (with Smith), Reid said. Hes a good football player. Hes showing that (along with) good leadership. Im asking him to do a ton of things. Hes handling it. Weve had an interception here or there but thats all part of this thing. Youve got to find out about the offense and you cant do it with your hands in your pocket. Youve got to go out and try things and experiment. Thats what hes doing now.
Its just good stuff. Hes staying aggressive with the ball, and I appreciate that.
The final offseason practice is today. The Chiefs wont get together again as a group until training camp begins in July at Missouri Western State University.
Smith indicated he may try to throw to some Chiefs receivers during their downtime in an effort to stay sharp.
Were heads and shoulder above where we were a couple of months ago, he said. But thats a never-ending thing. I dont think its something like, Weve got a good feel for each other so we dont need to work anymore. Youre constantly working at it. This is our job, this is our craft. Every single day, its coming out here and pushing to get better.