For Pete's Sake

Former Chiefs teammate comes to Alex Smith’s defense

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. jsleezer@kcstar.com

Since the Chiefs’ 16-10 loss to the Bills at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, a number people have been sharing short video clips of GIFs of Alex Smith’s passes on social media.

The replays of Smith throws have been shared on Twitter and Facebook, and are used to make the case for bad decision-making or simply terrible passes.

But former Chiefs offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz does not believe these short clips tell the whole story. This is from his article at SB Nation about fixing the Chiefs offense:

Now let’s get to Alex Smith and the passing game. I’m not going to show y’all a bunch of GIFs of “open” receivers that Smith is missing. For one, that’s not fair to him because we don’t know who the first read is, or even the second read. Second, I’m still learning more about the route concepts against certain coverages. Besides maybe 10 people on Twitter, no one else knows either. So I’m not doing that.

Schwartz, who played for the Chiefs in 2013 and is the brother of KC offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz, has called out people on Twitter for showing the clips of Smith.

On Wednesday morning, Schwartz responded to a GIF from a Twitter user: “just wondering...have you ever seen Alex throw this seam route before with defenders near Kelce? Because I haven’t either.”

Schwartz, who was Smith’s teammate in his lone season with the Chiefs, followed up by writing: “Everyone’s favorite game... The ‘look who’s open game’... How many QBs in the league throw this to Kelce when he asks for it? Maybe 5, maybe none. I’ve never seen Alex make this throw in that position. Please stop doing this. It doesn’t help anyone.”

Someone asked Schwartz if he had a vested interest in defending Smith, and he wrote: “Haven’t talked to Alex in 4 years. Putting up GIFs of ‘open’ WRs is such a waste of time. It doesn’t do any good and as ‪@danorlovsky7 pointed out yesterday, almost none of us know the routes and reads”

Schwartz referenced former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky, who broke down the Bills’ game-clinching interception against Smith on Sunday.

Orlovsky said the interception was not Smith’s fault: “Picks go on the QB all the time, but everyone is involved! WR’s come back to the QB, protect the throw. ‪#chiefs fans, this INT is bc of a bad route, not bad QB play!!! ‪#ChiefsKingdom ‪#KansasCityChiefs ‪@geoffschwartz”

This is not to say Schwartz has completely absolved Smith. In his story at SB Nation, he wrote that Smith has lost confidence in the pocket and has a “limited skill set.” This is from that article:

For the first five games of the season, Smith had his full complement of offensive skill players — Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Chris Conley, and Albert Wilson. He trusted those guys. He threw to them all offseason and through the first five games of the season. In game five, Conley tore his Achilles late against the Texans. In that same game, Wilson went down, and has since been in and out of the lineup with knee and hamstring issues. He hasn’t been targeted often when he’s played, until the Buffalo game, where he had seven targets.

Smith is down to Hill, Kelce, and young players he has zero chemistry with. This matters for Smith, who has a limited skill set. He needs to play with confidence in his receiving targets and throw in rhythm. He’s not Tom Brady, who can insert anyone at receiver and have success.

He also needs to play with confidence in the pocket, which he’s lost. The first month of the season, the Chiefs trotted out their starting five offensive linemen. Smith was comfortable going through his reads. Then they lost their center and their right guard for a good chunk of time. Coupled with their young left guard, who’s struggled at times, the inside of the pocket was rough for weeks. Smith was getting pressured and he’s reverted back to being jittery in the pocket, not trusting his linemen, even with the starters back and generally pass protecting well.

While there have been a number of people calling for the Chiefs to give rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes a shot, Schwartz is not one of them. You can read more of what he wrote here.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith commented on the 16-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills, the team’s fifth loss in six games.

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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