Originally posted on Fox Sports Kansas City
By SEAN KEELER  |  Last updated 8/26/13
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The book says the Alex Smith passing tree hits every direction along the compass, and with surgical precision, save for one fairly big one: North. An upgrade, he is. "The Mad Bomber," he ain't. Statistically, Smith is the anti-Lamonica: accurate, smart, low-risk, right-of-Rush conservative, a pilot with an excellent safety record but pretty dull flight plans. Before his trade to the Kansas City Chiefs, the nicer San Francisco fans called him "efficient," the jerks called him "Checkdown Charlie," and ne'er the twain. Smith currently ranks 25th among active quarterbacks in terms of yards per pass attempt in his career (6.6) and ranks 28th in yards per completion (11.1). With the bulk of his heavy preseason lifting done, the early numbers with the Chiefs certainly fall in line with the rest of the NFL dossier: 6 yards per attempt; 9.29 yards per completion. In fact, among the 11 signal-callers who've attempted at least 47 throws this month, only young'uns Ryan Mallett of New England (5.5) and Brock Osweiler of Denver (5.5) have managed less yards per attempt than Smith. And only Osweiler has a lower yards-per-completion number (8.39). Break down Smith's 31 preseason completions, and the numbers are even more telling: Catches by wideouts: 15 Catches by tight ends: 7 Catches by backs: 9 Catches that were gains of 11 yards or more: 9 Catches that were gains of 7 yards or less: 12 No completion went for more than 30 yards (Smith's longest play from scrimmage, actually, was with his feet -- a 38-yard scramble last Saturday at Pittsburgh). No picks. Five sacks. "First of all, he's a tough guy," coach Andy Reid said during a conference call earlier this week. "And his efficiency -- he does the right thing with the ball and gives his receivers an opportunity to run after the catch. He orchestrates, if a play comes in or we give him an option, according to a coverage or a front. He's very accurate with those things. He manages a game well. You're not calling a lot of timeouts because he's not able to distribute the plays to the team. He just handles all of those things very well." With Smith, it's safety first. But can a passing game with that much bubble wrap get anywhere in a hurry, if the situation dictates? Smith's cool hand in the 2-minute drill that ended the first half against the Steelers would seem to say so: Six completions, four first downs converted, 60 yards traversed in a span of 60 seconds. Give his receivers a 5-yard cushion, and Smith will go Ginsu on your secondary all day, carving up the yardage, one dink at a time. But the biggest question coming into the preseason with Smith is still one of the biggies coming out of it -- namely, does the new Chiefs quarterback have the trigger to make defenders respect the deep ball? History says no. And August, so far, has been inconclusive. But Donnie Avery can run only so many crossing routes before some slap-happy outside linebacker decides to clean his cuckoo clock. Vertical threats at tight end can open up some space, but with rookie Travis Kelce on the mend and veteran Tony Moeaki officially sidelined again, this time with a fractured shoulder, the position at present amounts to Anthony Fasano and a roll of the dice. Every once in a while, it's better to be sorry than safe. A diet of short throws -- jab after jab after jab -- isn't the end of the world, but in the NFL, now more than ever, conversions downfield separate the men from the boys. Since 2008, of the 25 clubs that wound up among the top five in yards per attempt, 17 of them -- 68 percent, more than two-thirds -- made the postseason. But check out what happens on the other end of the spectrum: Of the 25 teams among the bottom five in yards per attempt since 2008, 23 of them -- 92 percent -- missed the playoffs entirely. The box can become a very, very crowded place once defenses feel comfortable enough to camp out inside of it. For a quarterback, it can become a very, very lonely place, too. You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at seanmkeeler@gmail.com
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Ohio State hails itself as the ‘fastest team in college football’

Get a look at Shia LeBeouf as John McEnroe in Borg/McEnroe movie trailer

Draymond Green is the most efficient defender in the NBA

It’s not even June, but the San Francisco Giants are probably screwed

Odell Beckham Jr. appears to take shot at Ben McAdoo

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Seahawks players feel Sherman bombshell story ‘nailed it’

Turkey: Kanter a member of terrorist group, issues warrant

Chad Johnson says Roger Goodell consulted him on touchdown celebration rule change

Kevin Durant is not to blame for the NBA’s lack of parity, and he knows it

Khloe Kardashian called out Cavs fan who mentioned ‘curse’

Warriors’ Mike Brown: Steve Kerr may be back for the Finals

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Box Score 5/26: Bring on the Finals

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Three Up, Three Down: Some surprises way out (NL) West

The 'Let's go to the videotape!' quiz

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker