Smith inherited the worst team in the NFL and helped turn the franchise into a consistent playoff team that would win the Super Bowl after a half-century drought.
As Washington quarterback Alex Smith announced his retirement earlier this week, it’s important to realize how important and significant Smith has been to the Chiefs organization.
Smith signed with the Chiefs prior to the 2013 season. The Chiefs went 2-14 the previous year and were considered the worst team in football. The franchise and its fanbase were looking at another rebuild coming.
That offseason the Chiefs hired head coach Andy Reid and found their answer at quarterback with Smith. The 2013 draft class didn’t have any highly touted quarterback prospect for the Chiefs to snag first overall, outside of Geno Smith from West Virginia, who didn’t end up getting drafted until the 39th pick.
Smith, with the help of Reid, was able to have success in his first season. The Chiefs went 11-5 in 2013 and made it to the postseason. Smith threw for 26 touchdowns with just seven interceptions.
The following season the Chiefs went 9-7 and missed the playoffs. Being able to go 20-12 in the first two regular seasons after a 2-14 season was impressive and showed Chiefs Kingdom this team was serious.
Following missing the postseason, the 2015 Chiefs made it back and beat the Houston Texans 30-0 in the Wild Card. Hard to believe now, but that blowout win was the first Chiefs playoff victory since 1993… when Joe Montana was the Chiefs quarterback.
The 2016 season was the most successful Chiefs team under Smith. They went 12-4 and secured a first-round bye, but that ended abruptly after the Pittsburgh Steelers led by Le’Veon Bell beat the Chiefs at home 18-16.
Smith had another decent season, but 2016 saw Smith throw more interceptions and his lowest passing touchdown total that season. The Chiefs then decided to move up to the tenth pick of the 2017 draft and drafted Patrick Mahomes in the first round.
However, Smith did not react emotionally and like other quarterbacks may have. Smith helped to nurture Mahomes and help him in his eventual transition as the franchise quarterback.
This in turn led to Smith having his best season with the team in 2017. Smith started the year off electric, going 5-0 to begin the season. But the wheels fell off for the Chiefs as they lost six of seven on the way to finishing 10-6.
Smith threw for his first 4000-yard season along with a career-high 26 passing touchdowns with just five interceptions. Despite being pushed out the door, Smith made the most of a bad situation and got better because of it.
Chiefs Kingdom needs to understand what Smith did for the franchise. The Chiefs were and had been in a tough spot for a while, but Smith chose them and helped change the culture.
Once Reid and Smith signed, the Chiefs looked and felt like a completely different franchise. Which showed as the duo made the postseason four of five seasons together.
As the fanbase looks back on Smith, he’s not going to ‘wow’ you statistically, but there is no denying Smith helped turn the Chiefs into the championship team they are today.
Smith did that by establishing a winning culture again and with the key development of Mahomes that certainly helped him win the franchise’s first MVP.
Chiefs Kingdom must cherish and remember the times with Smith. He is one of the most successful quarterbacks to suit up in red and he left it all out there every Sunday regardless of his team or situation.