Ten possessions in a game is a smidge low on average for an NFL team, but for the sake of discussion let’s call it a full game’s worth of drives.
Alex Smith has been the Chiefs quarterback for 10 possessions in three preseason games, with half of them occurring in Saturday’s 23-7 victory over the Chicago Bears.
If those drives were in one game, the Chiefs would have scored 37 points, enough to win nearly every game.
With Smith operating against opponents’ starting defenses, the Chiefs have scored four touchdowns and three field goals and punted three times. All but one possession collected at least one first down.
Most of them were clock-chewing, vintage Andy Reid drives. The longest play of the 10 possessions was Smith’s 37-yard completion to Chris Conley against the Rams last week.
For the preseason, Smith has completed 32 of 46 (70 percent) for 354 yards. If those 10 possessions were one game, the yardage would be the second-highest regular-season total in Smith’s career.
The offense has been that good.
“I certainly feel like we’re ready, as far as game speed is concerned, and getting in enough plays, enough situations,” Smith said. “It’s what you want in the preseason, to get a taste of all that stuff.”
The Smith-led offense built up to Saturday’s performance over three weeks. Smith got one drive in the opener against the Seahawks and four the following week against the Rams.
On Saturday, Reid dug deeper into the playbook, especially in the passing game. Smith attempted 30 passes in the first two quarters, completing 20 for 181 yards. Eight different Chiefs caught passes from Smith, who is unlikely to play in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Green Bay Packers at Arrowhead Stadium.
“It was important that he had an opportunity to sling it around with those guys,” Reid said.
The Chiefs scored on three of the five possessions Saturday, with the lone touchdown occurring just before halftime. The Chiefs took over at their 30 and used 11 plays to reach the end zone, with Spencer Ware bulling in from the 1.
The drive required a bit of fortune. Anthony Sherman fumbled away a short completion, but right tackle Mitchell Schwartz burrowed into the pile for the recovery at the 9.
Ware scored after two more plays, and the Chiefs had a touchdown on their final possession of the first half for the first time in the preseason.
“It felt good,” Smith said. “We’ve had a great camp, great offseason when it comes to the 2-minute, no-huddle stuff.”
Earlier in the half, the Chiefs had problems finishing. One possession ended with a Cairo Santos chip-shot field goal when a tight end tunnel screen from the 2 gained 1 yard on third down.
The Chiefs also drove to the Bears’ 9, but twice Smith couldn’t connect and Santos was called upon once again.
“We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times,” Reid said. “We need to be a little better there.”
Still, the most part, the starting offense provided plenty of encouraging signs. It played well without running back Jamaal Charles, who hasn’t appeared in a preseason game, and on Saturday the Chiefs were missing a starting offensive lineman. Center Mitch Morse was ruled out of the game just before kickoff because of illness.
No matter. In a measure of the Chiefs’ depth, Zach Fulton, who started games at guard and center last season, plugged in and helped prevent Smith from a sack on Saturday.
The depth at wide receiver also is making a difference. Jeremy Maclin and tight end Travis Kelce return as top targets. But Conley, in his second year, has developed into a threat and rookie Tyreek Hill, with his speed, could be the team’s most dynamic offensive weapon.
“I think we’re solid,” Maclin said. “Guys have stepped up from last year. Young guys have stepped in. I’m excited with what we have.”