The Kansas City Chiefs have proven to be one of the best AFC regular season teams for the past few seasons. The Chiefs have had a consistent defense, solid running game and a turnover-free quarterback in Alex Smith. When it comes to the playoffs though, we have seen a different Chiefs team. Now that Smith is 33 years old, it looks like the Chiefs are about to do what no one expected: set Smith up for failure this upcoming season.
How is Smith being phased out?
First off, the recent release of Jeremy Maclin sets Smith up with no veteran wide receiver. Travis Kelce is still their best receiving option; however, the receiving core has been the a weak spot over the past few seasons. Tyreek Hill showed plenty of upside in his rookie season, but does he have the size to be the team’s top target? Or will guys like Chris Conley or Albert Wilson step up and be the top receiver on the team? The move to cut Maclin shows how Kansas City is ready to focus on their young core of talent.
Second, the team did not resign Jamaal Charles or look to sign a running back in free agency. Spencer Ware was hot to start last season but was inconsistent the rest of the season. Charcandrick West has shown positive signs, but took a step back last year, which lead the Chiefs to draft Kareem Hunt. Hunt could be the answer; however, he will not be ready for a couple years. Kansas City did sign CJ Spiller but he is no longer the feature back he was in Buffalo. Consistency in the backfield will determine the potential of the Chiefs this season.
Third, the Chiefs failed to resign Dontari Poe. Poe reminds me of William “The Refrigerator” Perry. He has a big body with power and skill – so much skill that he can be used in goal-to-go situations on offense, like Perry was. Poe was a big part of the Chiefs’ defense, which has been dominant over the past few seasons. Now that Poe signed with Atlanta, can the Chiefs fill his gap on defense? Also, will age affect the defensive unit? Could this be the year where the offense has to win them more games than the defense?
Finally, the Chiefs traded up in the NFL Draft to get Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes was expected to be picked late in the first round, setting the Chiefs up perfectly to draft him. When Mitch Tribusky was drafted second by Chicago though, Kansas City was forced to move up in the draft. Mahomes has been said to be the next Brett Favre, and no one would know better than Favre’s old coach, Andy Reid. It’s not like Smith is a bad choice for the Chiefs, but he just has not been a big game quarterback. The time is now ticking for Smith to produce in those big games.
Many questions still need to be answered for the Chiefs. Can Kansas City pass the Patriots in the AFC? Will the defense continue to win games for the Chiefs? Can the Chiefs be successful without a number one wide receiver? All these will be answered during the season, but for now the clock is ticking for Alex Smith. Can he be the quarterback that leads the Chiefs to a Super Bowl? If he cannot this season, expect the Patrick Mahomes show to start in 2018.