KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Alex Smith gets plenty of criticism for his perceived inability to throw the deep ball, but statistics compiled by Pro Football Focus show that the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback is one of the better passers in the league when throwing the ball 20 yards or more in the air.
Pro Football Focus includes dropped passes as completions in this statistical category for Smith and all NFL quarterbacks. On those throws, Smith is a respectable 7-of-22 with three dropped passes. If you add the dropped passes into it, that would be a 45.5 completion percentage, which puts him near the top of the list among quarterbacks who have thrown 10 or more long balls.
He doesn’t attempt many of those throws. Passes of more than 20 yards make up only 6.1 percent of Smith’s throws, the lowest percentage in the league for any quarterback who has attempted one this season.
That may be starting to change. Smith attempted four passes in last week’s game in Denver of 20 yards or more. He completed one, but the trend could continue in Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers and beyond.
“We did take more shots down the field," coach Andy Reid said. “We’ll continue to work on that. That hasn’t necessarily been our strength in this offense up to this point but we’re trying to get better at the things that we need to get better at and that’s one of them. We’ll keep working on it.
“Each [opponent] is going to give you an opportunity for something different. We felt maybe we had a shot at getting a couple of deep ones against that crew. Every week is different."
Smith’s numbers suggest they should keep at it. Potential problems include less-than-reliable pass protection, the inability of receivers down the field to consistently get open and dropped passes.
But as sluggish as the offense has been, the Chiefs can desperately use the boost a few big passing plays could provide.
“You need to be able to attack all parts of the field," Smith said. “It changes week in and week out and play by play depending on how defenses are playing you but certainly if a defense is getting aggressive, you need to be able to do that, to take advantage of shots down the field."