Alex Smith targets footwork, throwing motion, decision-making

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Like every NFL quarterback, Alex Smith is trying to get better this time of year. But he's not just trying to make general improvement.

Smith has targeted three specific areas to make gains as the Kansas City Chiefs continue their offseason practices. In no particular order, they are:

  • Footwork: Smith completed 65 percent of his passes last year, 10th in the league. He said he believes better attention to detail in this area could put him among the leaders in this stat. Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys was No. 1 at almost 70 percent."For me, footwork is something that never goes away," Smith said. "You're constantly trying to get better with your feet. For me, it's working on being more consistent from being under center and in the [shotgun formation], when I do go back and forth. It's something that looking back on the tape from last year, I was a little bit all over the place and footwork is so important as a quarterback. It's kind of the foundation of throwing. Trying to get to a point where I'm more consistent with that. With that, you're more balanced and I think over the long haul you're going to complete more footballs, you're going to throw better balls."

  • Throwing motion: The pocket isn't a perfect world for any quarterback, Smith included. Because of pass-rush pressure, he doesn't have the opportunity to step into his throws and follow the proper mechanics as often as he would like. But the correct form and fundamentals can make a big difference when he does have the necessary amount of time. Smith has spent plenty of time watching video from last season with offensive coordinator Doug Pederson and quarterbacks coach Matt Nagy."I'm [trying to] perfect ball carriage, where I carry the football, my motion, trying to be as efficient as I can," Smith said. "You play a long time as a QB and you get better at kind of making a lot of the weird throws and practicing them, but for me it's still kind of [about] getting back to square one and being efficient with the football and how I throw and my throwing motion.

    "I just feel you can get better, always. I definitely looked with [Nagy and Pederson] really looking at my motion here and there. It did change at times. Sometimes you have to get out there and play football and you have to be able to change your arm angle and do different things. But this is the time of year where I can really practice being efficient and get that better."

  • Decision making: Smith has always been more about ball protection than big plays. He threw six interceptions last season, giving him the second-lowest percentage in the league behind the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers.There has been a tradeoff. He threw 18 touchdown passes, which put him 24th in the league. Chiefs wide receivers infamously failed to catch a single TD last season. The Chiefs were last in the league in long pass plays.Pederson, Nagy and coach Andy Reid have tried to get Smith more comfortable getting the ball downfield. Smith indicated improved footwork and throwing motion should help.

    "Both lend themselves to throwing the football down the field and being efficient," Smith said. "Any time you've got inefficiencies or wasted movement, things like that, it's only detracting from what you can put on the football. For me, I think both of those things are what I came away with as far as being efficient. Both of those go with being a better quarterback and throwing the ball downfield as well."