KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- By the measure that counts the most, Alex Smith failed in his five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. He couldn't get a talented and well-coached team to the Super Bowl despite four trips to the playoffs, and as the starting quarterback, that's on his record.
By every other gauge, Smith was a success. Smith stabilized what had been a shaky position for the Chiefs, with seven different players starting at least one game for them at quarterback over the six seasons prior to his arrival in 2013.
He also guided a forlorn franchise, one that had lost at least 12 games in four of the six seasons before he walked in the door, to the postseason four times. The Chiefs also won the AFC West the past two seasons, the first time in franchise history they've won division titles in back-to-back years.
The Chiefs couldn't do much with those opportunities. They were 1-4 with Smith in the playoffs, their four losses coming by one, seven, two and one points. They scored just 16 points in their postseason loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016 and were shut out in the second half of their postseason defeat to the Tennessee Titans this season.
Those failures were in large part why the Chiefs traded up last year in the first round to draft quarterback Patrick Mahomes II, and why the Chiefs on Tuesday sent Smith to Washington in return for a third-round pick plus Redskins cornerback Kendall Fuller as compensation, sources told ESPN.
Turn back the clock to 2013, though, and the Chiefs would have happily accepted then what Smith eventually delivered. After six seasons of Damon Huard, Brodie Croyle, Tyler Thigpen, Matt Cassel, Tyler Palko, Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn, the Chiefs were in desperate need of a quarterback who could help them win games.
Smith did that. He won 50 of his 76 starts in Kansas City, for a team that had won 24 of its previous 76 games before he arrived. Smith threw 102 touchdown passes with 33 interceptions for the Chiefs, making him one of three quarterbacks with 100-plus TD passes and fewer than 40 interceptions in the past five years.
From a 2013 perspective, that's great stuff. From a 2018 vantage point, it's no longer enough. The Chiefs, with plenty of help from Smith, have raised the bar. They'll no longer settle for what they would have five years ago.
That's Smith's Kansas City legacy. For that, the Chiefs owe their former starting quarterback a debt of gratitude.