The former Kansas City starting QB, and mentor to Patrick Mahomes, announced his retirement earlier this week. With the statistics that he has accumulated over his career, should he really be considered for the Chiefs’ highest honor?
Alex Smith’s career had some serious highs, like his 13-3 season in San Francisco and his 27 total touchdowns during the regular season in his last season as a Chief. Smith’s career also had some serious lows, like his two missed seasons (’08 & ’19) due to injuries or his terrible rookie season where he threw for one TD and eleven INTs in nine games.
Although, when Smith was in Kansas City from 2013-2017, something was different about him, he was revamped and showed glimpses of his talent level that mirrored how he looked when he was playing at Utah.
His time in Kansas City brought Chiefs fans optimism and hope that hadn’t existed in Arrowhead in quite a long time, especially with Andy Reid calling the shots from the sideline.
While Smith was in Kansas City he never had a losing season, in fact, he went 51-30 including the playoffs over his five seasons, and he brought the Chiefs their first postseason win 22 years when he beat Houston 30-0 in 2015.
Over those years in Kansas City, he racked up 111 passing TDs–more than half his career total (214)–had a higher passer rating (65.1) than he did anywhere else in his career and threw for over 18,850 yards which is more than he had in his entire nine-season career outside KC.
Compare Smith’s five seasons in Kansas City to Green’s five seasons before his career-threatening concussion halfway through the ’06 season and you can begin to see that they have very similar statistics, meaning if Smith is inducted then Green definitely should be as well, and vice-versa.
Green’s 44-37 record (54.3%) during these seasons and Smith’s 51-30 record (62.9%) both show winning regiments and attitudes, their yardages are within 1,500 yards of each other, and Green’s TD number (112) is only one more than Smith’s. The biggest difference overall is the interceptions, Green’s 76 INTs almost doubles Smith’s total of 35.
But Alex Smith’s career in Kansas City is more than just wins and losses, his presence on the field was special and his leadership led the Chiefs to the playoffs in four of his five seasons. Not only that, Smith’s final year as a Chief was not only his best year, but it was Patrick Mahomes’ rookie season which was spent learning from the 12-season veteran.
That’s all fine and dandy, but the Chiefs have had some amazing quarterbacks throughout their history. Like Len Dawson–the only QB to be inducted into the Chiefs’ Hall of Honor–or Trent Green, who could also be argued as a possible inductee.
So what sets Smith apart from these greats, especially the ones who are also in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton? For starters, like many of the great QBs in NFL history, Smith was able to change the culture when he arrived, and it showed in the win category.
The culture change that came with Smith and Reid could largely be in part to the dominance of Jamaal Charles during the early years, or the hip, fresh look of the Chiefs’ new offense that mirrored the Dick Vermeil years, but Smith’s ability to lead the team and carry the weight of the Chiefs struggling defenses throughout the regular season.
No matter how one may look at it, Alex Smith has a legitimate argument to make it into the the Hall of Honor, or the “Ring of Honor” for those that remember the names that once graced the stadium before screens divided the different levels of Arrowhead.
One thing is for sure: Smith’s career has been one of ups-and-downs, but the ups were glorious to watch, especially in Kansas City where he was ultimately his best self and at his highest peak. Whatever Smith decides to do in retirement, even potentially coaching with Coach Reid, he will do it with the same vigor and perseverance as he did leading the Chiefs.