KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs headed into this season thinking it would be the best yet for quarterback Alex Smith, but it isn’t turning out that way. Many of Smith’s key statistics are down from last season, including yards per attempt (7.4 last year to 6.9), touchdown percentage (4.3 to 3), passer rating (95.4 to 91.2) and rushing (31 yards per game to 6).
Throw in the Chiefs’ scoring struggles -- they have two or fewer offensive touchdowns in six of the eight full games in which Smith has played this season -- and it’s easy to conclude Smith’s game has regressed this season.
Coach Andy Reid isn’t concluding that, at least not publicly.
“I think Alex is OK,’’ Reid said. “He’s going to be fine. We’ve just got to keep going here. He does a great job with leadership and all of those things. He’ll be fine. We’ve had a couple of weeks here when we’ve been in a little bit of a slump and we’ve got to pull out of it and get better. That’s all of us.’’
To say the Chiefs are in a slump offensively is to ignore what happened early in the season. The Chiefs have been out of sorts offensively most of the season. They had a breakout in the second half of the season-opening win over the San Diego Chargers, in a mid-October game against the Oakland Raiders and also late last month in Indianapolis, where much of the good quarterbacking the Chiefs received that day came from backup Nick Foles.
Otherwise, the Chiefs have been struggling on offense. That includes a Nov. 6 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in which Foles played in place of Smith, who was suspected of having a concussion. The Chiefs scored just one touchdown that day.
Smith’s struggles have showed up most noticeably when they hurt the most: on third down and inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Smith is the NFL’s 26th-rated passer on third down. The Chiefs are 31st at scoring touchdowns from the red zone. They’ve had three games where they’ve kicked four field goals, including the one against the Jaguars in which Foles played.
“I think those things only become more magnified, I guess,’’ Smith said. “I think they become more important as the games get bigger and bigger. No question. Yeah, they’re huge. That’s something that we do put a lot of focus on (and) we work hard at.’’
That work isn’t paying off for the Chiefs and Smith. That’s why, even if Reid feels the numbers don’t tell the complete story for Smith, what the Chiefs are getting from their quarterback isn’t enough.