Monday, March 4, 2013

Chiefs Play it Safe, One More Time

Many people have half-jokingly posed the question of whether the Chiefs could trade their currently held number one overall Draft pick for last year's number one pick (Lucky 2 Sucky) or even next year's top choice (anybody who isn't in this Draft, please!). Instead, the Kansas City Chiefs did the 89th (Jason Dunn!) next best thing, by trading for the number one pick of 2005, Alex Smith.

Now I've been asked by, literally, handfuls of people what I think about this trade. "Are you okay with getting Alex Smith?"

Naw man. I'm pretty fuckin' far from okay.

I'm interested in one thing above all else when it comes to today's NFL… Aggression. That's all I want. In all aspects. On the field, off the field, in the bedroom. Everywhere.

Think about the playoffs that recently concluded. Both teams that advanced to the Super Bowl were aggressive on offense, on defense, and in their decision making.

The Baltimore Ravens were considered somewhat of a laughingstock entering the playoffs, somewhat because people wrote them off after they fired their Offensive Coordinator following Week 14. Bold move.

The 49ers were sparked by a midseason change at Quarterback. Their young gun, Colin Kaepernick, was a big play waiting to happen for them. They erased three score deficits in the playoffs twice (or, rather, a 2-point conversion away from twice), because of The Kaep's abilities.

The 49ers lost the Super Bowl, a game they had no business losing, because Joe Flacco and the Ravens were the aggressors from the beginning, making play after play downfield. They had the arm (Flacco), the mind (John Harbaugh/Jim Caldwell), and the balls to do so, in my opinion because Jim Harbaugh thought he had the better team that night, backing his team into a conservative corner.

I believe this philosophy extends past last season. Bill Belichick's Patriots have long been the most aggressive team in the NFL when it comes to forward thinking (no huddle, spread, 4th downs), as well as the league's most successful team (or, at the least, the most consistent). Jeff Fisher's Titans back in the day. Vermeil's Rams. The Saints' onside kick. Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning are both second tier Quarterbacks, who have garnered the game's top prize multiple times. What similarity do they share that separates them from their peers? Their knack for the big play! Big Ben scrambles around to find open receivers down field more than anybody, while Elijah throws a gorgeous deep ball and has the right group of receivers to compliment that.

Be aggressive. Be, be aggressive.

"So what in god's name do your ramblings about aggression have to do with Alex Smith and the Chiefs?"

Oh yeah, sorry.

This trade for Alex Smith is all about playing it safe. People have spun it by saying the Chiefs got the "Best QB available." That's inaccurate. What they mean, is that the Chiefs got the QB with the lowest risk of being a failure. They traded for the most known quantity. They went with the safest bet, the best chance they had to win 9 games.

Alex Smith was a terrible QB the first six seasons of his career. His numbers turned a corner in 2011, with the arrival of Jim Harbaugh. Under his tutelage, Smith was asked not to lose games. Basically, he was what Chiefs fans hoped Matt Cassel would be. His handoffs went up and his interceptions went down. His completion % went up. His times sacked went up. So long as he stayed out of the way, the NFL's best defense and bruising running game would win a majority of the games for them. Harbaugh maxed out Alex Smith this way.

Enter Andy Reid, who carries two very well documented flaws with him, tucked away somewhere in his pantalones. He loves to pass (or maybe I should say, he hates to run). And he doesn't know what the hell's going on with this clock, these timeouts, and whatever the hell challenges are. Lets deal with the former for now.

If you support this trade, you're probably thinking one of two things:

One, Alex Smith will thrive in Andy Reid's system. Hey, I believe in The Giant Child as much as anyone, so this seems logical. But this means you're putting Alex Smith in a position where he is asked to win you games. That is Reid's system. He puts the onus on the QB. This is a direct contradiction to Harbaugh's strategy to get the most out of Smith these last two seasons, thus salvaging his career. And maybe you think Smith and Reid are capable of pulling off this transformation.

Well, I'mma go to work on that argument with a pair of pliers and a blow torch:

~Alex Smith has thrown for three 300 yard games in his 80-game career (psst, Matt Cassel has seven).

~The highest an Alex Smith led offense has finished in 3rd down conversion rate (perhaps, the most telling stat of a QB?) is 25th. The complete rundown: 32nd, 26th, 32nd, 29th, 29th, 31st, and 25th.

~In Alex Smith's 2011 breakout season, he was sacked a league leading 44 times, behind arguably the best offensive line in football, and the 20th most passing attempts in the NFL.

~In Alex Smith's best, albeit shortened, season in 2012, his Total QBR on 3rd downs was 33.1. Matt Cassel's was 44.5. (I'm harping on 3rd downs, because it's a strong indicator of what life will be like if Reid continues with his pass happy offense.)

Two, you foresee a philosophy change coming from Andy Reid. He will play to the Chiefs' strengths by running the ball, and continue to get the most out of Smith by limiting his impact, a la Jim Harbaugh. 

To which I say, what's the point? Why are the Chiefs giving up valuable Draft picks for a guy we're asking not to lose games? This formula will not bring the franchise a Super Bowl. It won't happen. I'll tattoo Smith's head on my ass and run naked down 39th street if it does happen. Seriously. Hold me to it. (Note: I probably would have done this anyway.)

I'm tired of seeing the Chiefs aim for their best chance at sustaining mediocrity. I want them to make their bold move. I'm not crazy about Geno Smith, but take a damn chance on him! Shit, draft anybody! Give Nick Foles a shot. Or Ryan Mallett. Or Chase Daniel. Anybody who I don't already know to be average.

This (lack of) aggression will not stand, man.

His Dirkness