KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Alex Smith continued his brilliant play for the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs Saturday. He threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns against the Tennessee Titans, giving him 1,250 yards, nine TDs, two interceptions and a passer rating of 96.0 in five career postseason games for the Chiefs.
Those aren't Smith's most important playoff stats, though. Smith and the Chiefs are 1-4 in those games.
That's why it's in the best interest of the Chiefs to trade Smith, a move that would also serve him well. That would allow the Chiefs to install Patrick Mahomes at quarterback and for Smith to get a fresh start elsewhere.
The Chiefs may well go that way. Coach Andy Reid said Sunday the Chiefs hadn't started the process of deciding which way to go at quarterback next season, but he also didn't push back at the mere suggestion it might be Mahomes. That's something new.
The Chiefs tried to make it work with Smith, who started for five seasons since being acquired in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers. They gave him a good run and he worked up to a point: The Chiefs made the playoffs four times and won the AFC West twice.
But it didn't work when it counted most. The Chiefs with Smith were never able to advance beyond the divisional round and twice couldn't move past the wild-card game.
That doesn't all rest with Smith. He got precious little help from his teammates, particularly those on the defensive side, in the second half against the Titans.
Smith didn't help his cause by failing to make a play in the second half. The Chiefs, who scored 21 points in the first half on the strength of Smith's passing, were shut out after that.
The Chiefs traded up in the first round last year to draft Mahomes as much for the postseason as the regular season. They believe he can be a difference-maker this time of year, when Smith hasn't been one.
Kansas City has lost 11 of its last 12 playoff games. Many times the Chiefs have been the victims of a great opposing quarterback. Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, John Elway, Peyton Manning twice, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger are among the QBs to have beaten them in those 11 losses.
The Chiefs understandably wanted a quarterback like that of their own, one capable of taking a team deep into the playoffs. Smith looked during the regular season this year as if he might have grown into that type of player. He was the NFL's top-rated passer and set career marks for touchdown passes and yards.
In the end, he couldn't sustain that in the playoffs after a great first half and he couldn't get the better of his Tennessee counterpart, Marcus Mariota.
For his part, Smith deserves the chance to try to break through his playoff ceiling with another team. The pressure for Reid to make the move to Mahomes, which wasn't great in 2017, will only increase after Mahomes proved in his one game this season that he's ready for a full-time job.
In any case, Smith has had his chances in Kansas City without much success. There's not much reason, with the Chiefs having a defense that looks old and tattered, to think that will change in 2018.
The Chiefs owe a debt of gratitude to Smith. He stabilized what for them was a most shaky position for several seasons before his arrival. They should attempt to send him to a place where he won't have the future looking over his shoulder, as he did with Mahomes this season in Kansas City.
But the Chiefs need to move on. There's a reason they drafted Mahomes and it's time to see if they were right about what it was.