Chiefs' biggest key to success

One of the biggest reasons the Kansas City Chiefs have been unable to sustain success (no back-to-back winning seasons since 2005 and 2006) and have been among the NFL’s worst teams when they haven’t been in the playoffs (four victories or fewer in four of the past seven seasons) is their often ragged play at quarterback.

That changed last season after they traded for quarterback Alex Smith. After coming over from the San Francisco 49ers, Smith stabilized the most important position in a way no player had for the Chiefs in almost a decade. It’s no coincidence that the Chiefs returned to a double-digit win total and the playoffs with Smith running their offense.

The Chiefs need to sign Smith, who is headed into the final season of his contract, to a long-term extension and build around him if they are to sustain last season's success into the foreseeable future.

Smith is a good fit for the West Coast offensive system of Chiefs coach Andy Reid. He is an accurate passer who should complete a high percentage of his attempts. Smith does a good job of protecting the ball, and his low interception rate allows the Chiefs to be threats to score each time they gain possession of the ball. Smith's running ability allows him to frequently escape the pass rush and make a positive gain on what otherwise could be a busted play.

The Chiefs are already invested in Smith, having sent a pair of second-round draft picks to the 49ers for him. The Chiefs also have a veteran backup in Chase Daniel and developmental prospects in Tyler Bray and Aaron Murray, but neither is an obvious candidate to replace Smith in the long term.

The Chiefs would need to start over in regard to finding a starting quarterback if they failed to re-sign Smith. Since that path has left them reeling for much of the past decade, they need to get his signature on a new contract and move on to other issues.