KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Through much of his NFL career, Alex Smith has been a quarterback who takes sacks. He led the NFL in taking sacks with 44 in 2011 while playing for the San Francisco 49ers. He took 39 in his first season with the Kansas City Chiefs and a career-high 45 last year, though neither total led the league.
Smith is on pace to break his personal record for going down with the ball in November this year. He’s tied for the league lead in sacks with Seattle’s Russell Wilson (18). At that rate, he’ll get sacked a mind-boggling 72 times by season’s end.
Smith at times doesn’t help himself by holding on to the ball. According to Pro Football Focus, Smith has been sacked 13 times this year when holding the ball at least 2.6 seconds.
So he’s part of the problem. But the issue is far more complicated than that.
I went back through video of last weekend’s game in Cincinnati to see what the problem was on his five sacks. The poor guy really had no chance on any of them.
The first sack of the game cost the Chiefs a big play. Jeremy Maclin got open deep down the middle but Cincinnati’s Michael Johnson got to Smith before he had a chance to get Maclin the ball. Johnson was initially double-teamed by guard Ben Grubbs and center Mitch Morse, but both players inexplicably left Johnson, leading to the sack.
If Smith was at fault on any of his sacks, it was the second one. It came on a busted play when he wasn’t expecting the snap and tried to scramble after taking control.
The line didn’t give Smith much help, at least on these occasions. As is usually the case when a team has a glaring weakness, there’s plenty of blame to go around.