KANSAS CITY, Mo. – After trading for Alex Smith last winter, the Kansas City Chiefs spent some time trying to reprogram their new quarterback. Smith was known as Captain Checkdown when he played for the San Francisco 49ers because of his affinity for making the higher percentage passes rather than taking some shots down the field.
The Chiefs were trying to make Smith more aggressive, though certainly not reckless, with his choices. Still, Smith has tried a relatively small number of passes of 20 yards or more.
Their underproductive offense could use the boost provided by some big passing plays, but offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said the Chiefs have backed off asking Smith to be more aggressive with his throws.
“You don’t want to put those thoughts in your quarterback’s head and say, ‘We’ve got to do this,’ or ‘We’ve got to do that.’ ’’ Pederson said. “It handcuffs the quarterback. You still have to execute the play, execute the offense, be patient with the offense and then when the opportunity presents itself, then you take advantage of it and you pull the trigger and shoot the ball down the field.’’
It certainly doesn’t seem this way, but the Chiefs have almost as many pass plays this season of 20 or more yards (28) as their opponents (32). But opponents have gained 1,103 yards and have seven touchdowns on their longer throws.
The Chiefs have just 761 yards and two touchdowns on their bigger pass plays.
“We’ve tried this whole season to push the ball down the field at certain times,’’ Pederson said. “Coverage dictates where you go with the ball at any given time. We’re going to continue to find ways to get guys down the field.’’