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05 Oct 2017

2017 ALEX: The Early Results

by Scott Kacsmar

A quarter of the way through the 2017 NFL season, it is time to check in on ALEX. No, not Alex Smith, quarterback of the league's last undefeated team and No. 1 offense. We'll definitely get to him, since he is the most fascinating case of the early season, but we're talking about Air Less Expected, or ALEX for short.

ALEX measures the average difference between how far a quarterback threw a pass (air yards) and how many yards he needed for a first down. If a quarterback throws a 3-yard pass on third-and-10, then that would be -7 ALEX. A pass thrown beyond the first-down marker would earn a positive ALEX figure. Most quarterbacks are wise enough to attack the sticks on fourth down, which is why ALEX is best applied on third downs to gauge the aggressiveness of a quarterback. As you will see, we have identified some quarterbacks with a strong year-to-year tendency for aggressive or ultra-conservative play.

So far this season, we have observed an increased tendency to throw short of the sticks on third down. I looked at the league-wide ALEX numbers on third down going back to the 2006 season, split up by Weeks 1 to 4 and then the entire season. These 2017 numbers are subject to change upon review of game charting and the removal of passes thrown away or batted down at the line.

ALEX: Third Down (2006-2017)
Year Weeks 1-4 Season DIFF
2006 1.7 1.8 0.1
2007 1.3 1.1 -0.2
2008 1.3 1.3 0.0
2009 0.7 1.1 0.5
2010 1.3 1.4 0.1
2011 1.0 1.2 0.2
2012 1.0 1.4 0.4
2013 1.3 1.2 -0.1
2014 1.5 1.5 0.0
2015 1.1 1.4 0.4
2016 1.3 1.4 0.1
2017 0.7 - -

The league's third-down ALEX is currently +0.7, the lowest it has been through Week 4 since the 2009 season. These numbers usually don't change too much by season's end too, as each season since 2006 has remained within half a yard of the season's early ALEX. But it is quite possible that this season finishes with the lowest ALEX on record.

At least Alex Smith is throwing deep this year to help the Chiefs get to 4-0 -- or is he? Let's get right to the data. The following table looks at every quarterback this season with at least 20 third-down passes. The quarterbacks are ranked from highest to lowest ALEX. Also included are their conversion rate, DVOA, and average need yards for a first down. Finally, Short% is the percentage of third-down attempts that were thrown short of the sticks (negative ALEX). ALEX and Short% generally have strong correlation (-0.89), but Short% is a good way to account for outlier plays like screens on third-and-forever or bombs on third-and-1. This is especially important early in the season when no quarterback has more than 50 third-down passes. For that reason, we will not include a split-by-distance table until the midseason report.

Rk Player Team ALEX CONV% Rk DVOA Rk Passes Avg. Need Rk Short% Rk
1 Marcus Mariota TEN 4.1 41.7% 11 8.7% 23 36 6.8 26 19.4% 1
2 Jameis Winston TB 3.0 45.5% 8 47.6% 11 22 6.6 32 27.3% 3
3 Aaron Rodgers GB 3.0 50.0% 4 71.8% 5 38 6.8 28 23.7% 2
4 Andy Dalton CIN 2.7 37.9% 20 -27.8% 31 29 6.8 27 34.5% 6
5 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 2.6 35.9% 28 5.9% 24 39 8.6 4 41.0% 15
6 Cam Newton CAR 2.6 46.4% 6 18.0% 21 28 7.8 12 39.3% 13
7 Carson Wentz PHI 2.3 52.5% 1 104.6% 2 40 8.2 9 37.5% 10
8 Blake Bortles JAC 2.2 30.8% 29 -15.5% 29 39 7.3 22 33.3% 4
9 Russell Wilson SEA 1.9 37.2% 22 15.5% 22 43 7.6 14 37.2% 9
10 Derek Carr OAK 1.7 36.7% 25 -1.4% 26 30 6.9 24 36.7% 8
11 Tom Brady NE 1.5 51.3% 3 107.8% 1 39 7.5 17 41.0% 16
12 Matt Ryan ATL 1.3 41.4% 13 65.4% 8 29 7.6 15 44.8% 18
13 Case Keenum MIN 1.3 40.6% 14 54.9% 9 32 7.5 16 40.6% 14
14 Trevor Siemian DEN 1.3 52.5% 2 66.8% 6 40 6.8 30 37.5% 11
15 Kirk Cousins WAS 1.2 39.0% 17 32.3% 13 41 7.4 21 46.3% 21
16 Eli Manning NYG 1.2 40.5% 15 29.9% 15 42 7.2 23 35.7% 7
Rk Player Team ALEX CONV% Rk DVOA Rk Passes Avg. Need Rk Short% Rk
17 Philip Rivers LACH 1.2 36.8% 24 -10.7% 28 38 7.5 18 42.1% 17
18 Deshaun Watson HOU 1.1 50.0% 5 54.3% 10 24 6.8 31 37.5% 12
19 DeShone Kizer CLE 0.9 27.8% 31 -67.2% 32 36 9.2 1 47.2% 22
20 Carson Palmer ARI 0.9 38.0% 19 -15.8% 30 50 8.0 10 34.0% 5
21 Brian Hoyer SF 0.7 30.4% 30 -1.1% 25 46 7.8 11 45.7% 20
22 Matthew Stafford DET 0.2 38.6% 18 40.9% 12 44 8.3 6 45.5% 19
23 Jacoby Brissett IND -0.8 36.4% 26 18.0% 20 33 7.7 13 51.5% 24
24 Josh McCown NYJ -1.0 43.6% 9 22.9% 18 39 7.5 19 53.8% 28
25 Joe Flacco BAL -1.2 36.0% 27 23.6% 16 25 6.8 29 52.0% 25
26 Jay Cutler MIA -1.2 21.7% 32 -7.8% 27 23 8.8 3 65.2% 32
27 Dak Prescott DAL -1.2 37.5% 21 19.7% 19 40 6.9 25 52.5% 26
28 Jared Goff LARM -1.3 43.2% 10 79.3% 3 37 7.4 20 56.8% 30
29 Mike Glennon CHI -1.5 41.5% 12 30.7% 14 41 8.2 8 53.7% 27
30 Tyrod Taylor BUF -2.2 39.4% 16 23.3% 17 33 8.6 5 54.5% 29
31 Drew Brees NO -2.2 46.3% 7 75.1% 4 41 8.3 7 51.2% 23
32 Alex Smith KC -4.7 37.0% 23 66.1% 7 27 8.9 2 63.0% 31

Alex Smith: Tale as Old as Time

Perception is a hell of a drug, right? Despite his perceived newfound love for the deep ball, Alex Smith is currently dead last in ALEX at -4.7 yards, a full 2.5 yards below any other quarterback. That would smash the record-low ALEX he set in 2015 at -3.4. Smith's strategy has not been very successful either this year, as he ranks just 23rd (37.0 percent) in converting his third-down passes into first downs. Now, he is seventh in DVOA, the largest difference of any quarterback here between conversion rate and DVOA. Part of that is because Smith's average third-down attempt has come with 8.9 yards to go for a first down, the second-longest average behind only DeShone Kizer (9.2 yards).

So what gives here? We think we have seen Smith take more aggressive shots in 2017, but the data sure suggests otherwise. What if he was being more aggressive on first and second down, since ALEX is looking at only third down? Well, on first downs, Smith's ALEX is -1.2, a perfectly average rank of 16th out of 32 passers. On second downs, Smith's ALEX (-1.6) ranks 20th, so he hasn't been too aggressive on early downs either. Overall, Smith's average air yards per attempt this season is 6.8 yards, which ranks 27th. It's basically where he has been for years now. Smith has thrown eight passes on third-and-10 or longer, and only once did one of those passes travel more than 4 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

The new perception is really just highlight syndrome. Smith's standout plays this season have been on some deep balls in big situations, such as the game-winning touchdown pass to Kareem Hunt in New England, or the scrambled throw he made to Albert Wilson on Monday night against Washington on the game-winning drive. Those were plays in crunch time in games shown to a national audience. Smith also threw a 35-yard dagger to Chris Conley in the fourth quarter against the Eagles. So the fact that he is hitting these plays in memorable fashion has crafted the change in his story, but we're unlikely to see a big change in third-down ALEX for Kansas City's passing game until Patrick Mahomes takes over, which may not be for quite a while now.

Jay Cutler Turned into Blaine Gabbert in Retirement

Believe it or not, Miami paid Jay Cutler $10 million to come out of retirement, and he has provided Blaine Gabbert-caliber quarterback play so far. That's not a joke. Through three games, Cutler has thrown 65.2 percent of his third-down passes short of the sticks. The record since 2006 is 65.0 percent, achieved by Gabbert with the 49ers in 2015. Much like Gabbert, Cutler has also been terrible at converting third downs (league-low 21.7 percent), and save for a garbage-time touchdown against the Jets on the game's final play, his offense would have back-to-back 20-0 shutout losses to the Jets and Saints. Cutler's average ALEX would be the second-lowest in the league right now if he didn't have the largest +ALEX pass of the season. Against the Jets, Cutler threw a 44-yard bomb to DeVante Parker on a third-and-3 for a +41 ALEX pass. It fell incomplete.

Apparently Cutler has not fully come out of retirement yet. It is hard to understand why Matt Moore just didn't get the job after Ryan Tannehill went down for the year, but the fallback plan was that head coach Adam Gase was familiar with Cutler from their time together with the 2015 Bears. That season, Cutler ranked seventh in ALEX (+3.11) and ninth in conversion rate (46.7 percent) for one of his best seasons. Cutler usually ranks below average in ALEX, but 2015 was a definite high point for him.

While there is still plenty of time for Cutler to get things moving in the right direction here, it has been one terrible start. Playing it this safe on third down to avoid throwing picks isn't helping Cutler or Miami in any way. If he can't lead any scoring drives, then he needs to hit the bench -- or a FOX announcing booth like originally planned.

Sorting out the Bottom

Drew Brees may come as a surprising name at 31st in ALEX, but he has been throwing a lot of shorter passes the last two seasons. He also has four seasons where he ranked 22nd or lower in ALEX since 2006, so it's not that unusual for him. As long as he's still converting at a decent rate (seventh this year so far), it's not a big problem for him in that offense.

Tyrod Taylor was a high-ALEX quarterback (top seven) in 2015 and 2016, but he's like a kid who had his toys taken away from him this year. In the last couple of offseasons, Taylor has notably lost Chris Hogan, Sammy Watkins, and Robert Woods. Jordan Matthews is a slot receiver, and rookie Zay Jones has been a bit of a mess so far. Taylor is just 4-of-17 for 57 yards on targets to Jones. So he's taking a dink-and-dunk approach this year, but the lack of a strong passing game could end up keeping Buffalo out of the playoffs again. OK, that last part is one of the least surprising things we could ever write, but things have changed drastically around Taylor this year.

Assuming his benching is permanent, Mike Glennon finished 29th in ALEX, but surprisingly wasn't doing too badly in conversion rate (12th) and DVOA (14th) thanks to some moves after the catch by rookie Tarik Cohen. Still, Glennon's season should be over now that the Bears have turned to rookie Mitchell Trubisky. Glennon was tied with Eli Manning for the most failed completions (34) in the NFL. Glennon was a low-ALEX passer in Tampa Bay too, but took conservative to a different level this past month. He led the NFL with 22 negative-ALEX passes on third down, only producing 3 DYAR on those plays. Oddly enough, Kirk Cousins (106 DYAR), Dak Prescott (75 DYAR), and Carson Wentz (49 DYAR) are the leaders in DYAR on negative-ALEX passes, and all happen to play in the NFC East.

Let's hope the Bears are a bit more aggressive with their latest attempt at a franchise quarterback.

The Sophomores

What have we learned about last year's three big rookie quarterbacks: Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Dak Prescott?

Like with most 2016 quarterback stats, Goff was dead last in ALEX (-2.6), Short% (63.1 percent), and conversion rate (23.1 percent). So far under Sean McVay, Goff is still 28th in ALEX (-1.3) and 30th in Short% (56.8 percent), but the superior design of the offense also sees him 10th in conversion rate (43.2 percent). We'll have to see if his success continues with a strategy that's still not overly aggressive.

Wentz finished 2016 ranked 27th in ALEX (0.0), but has certainly taken a more aggressive approach to this season. While he is barely completing 50 percent of his passes to new targets Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, Wentz has had a great start with tight end Zach Ertz and an improved connection with Nelson Agholor. Wentz currently ranks first in conversion rate (52.5 percent) and seventh in ALEX (+2.3).

Prescott was pretty middle-of-the-road in this category last season, ranked 17th in ALEX (+1.2) and 12th in conversion rate (43.7 percent). This year he has gone more conservative, ranked 27th in ALEX (-1.2), and it has only produced a conversion rate of 37.5 percent (ranked 21st). On the bright side, Jerry Jones may be aware of ALEX.

The 2017 Rookies

Deshaun Watson has really stepped up the last two weeks, and now ranks fifth in conversion rate (50.0 percent). His ALEX is right in line with Cleveland rookie DeShone Kizer, but Kizer has thrown the longest third-down passes of any quarterback at 9.2 yards. Watson's attempts have come with 6.8 yards to go, shorter than anyone not named Jameis Winston (6.6 yards).

But it hasn't been a promising start for Kizer in this regard. His conversion rate (27.8 percent) is only better than Cutler's, and his DVOA is last. Cody Kessler was very conservative last season (31st in ALEX) for Cleveland, and that did not work out. So far, Kizer isn't working out too well either for Hue Jackson's offense.

Stability of the Top

Let's finish by focusing on some of the quarterbacks at the top of ALEX right now. Marcus Mariota has not gotten off to a great start, but he looks to increase his ALEX again after finishing 23rd as a rookie and 10th a year ago. He just needs to stay healthy. Jameis Winston was fifth a year ago, and has been one of the most aggressive quarterbacks (on any down) in the league the last two years. He just has to start connecting better with new addition DeSean Jackson.

Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Cam Newton are basically the trio of ALEX mainstays, always ranking high year after year. Rodgers has been in the top six in every season since 2008. Roethlisberger has led the league three times since 2011, including each of the last two seasons. He just hasn't been converting as well to start this season. Roethlisberger also had a league-low -26 ALEX pass on a glorified screen pass to Antonio Brown on a third-and-25 against the Browns in Week 1. That play gained 9 yards. As for Newton, he has been in the top 10 in ALEX in four of the last five seasons, though he has never ranked higher than 14th in conversion rate. He is currently sixth (46.4 percent) after having his best game of the season in New England.

Tom Brady is currently 11th in ALEX, third in conversion rate, and first in DVOA on third down. Last season was his first time in the top 10 in ALEX since his 2009 season, so there has been a return to more vertical passing for him at 40 years old of all things. We'll see where he stands at midseason if he has to keep firing to make up for his defense after this surprising start to the season.

As far as Alex "ALEX" Smith goes, not everything is a real surprise this year.

Finally, I would be remiss not to mention that Sam Bradford would rank next-to-last above Smith if he had enough attempts to qualify. Bradford was at -2.3 ALEX against the Saints in Week 1, arguably the best game of his career.

The more things changeā€¦

Posted by: Scott Kacsmar on 05 Oct 2017

27 comments, Last at 10 Oct 2017, 6:05pm by theslothook

Comments

1
by nat :: Thu, 10/05/2017 - 3:03pm

Interestingly, if you plot third down ALEX versus DVOA with this data, you see two things:

1) A higher ALEX predicts a lower DVOA.
2) There's a ton of noise. (that is, a low correlation)

2
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 10/05/2017 - 3:14pm

I love the veiled suggestion that Alex Smith should actually be using Deshone Kizer's strategy.

The Taylor and Wentz comments are interesting. I wonder how much ALEX actually correlates to WR1 and WR2 talent. Taylor threw deep more in college than he has this season, but then again, his college team had more WR talent than the Bills do. Wentz, on the other hand, suddenly has thrown deep more often now that there's someone out there who can catch the ball.

11
by killwer :: Fri, 10/06/2017 - 6:44am

You can also see it in Wentz intended air yards per attempt.

He has gone from 8.5 last year to 11 this year https://nextgenstats.nfl.com/stats/passing/2016/all

14
by Mike B. In Va :: Fri, 10/06/2017 - 12:27pm

The Bills changed offensive design this year, too - but the WR talent is decidedly lacking. They really did import the Carolina Way!

3
by MilkmanDanimal :: Thu, 10/05/2017 - 3:56pm

Well, if I had to guess, people who throw shorter, more accurate passes on third down tend to likely throw shorter, more accurate passes on first and second down as well, which would lead to more efficiency and higher DVOA. The converse would be true as well; going deep on third correlates in some way to deeper throws on other downs, and those are higher variance.

4
by nat :: Thu, 10/05/2017 - 4:26pm

The DVOA in the table is for third down only. So, while your concept is probably right, it's not relevant here.

Besides, I'm not sure that QBs do behave the same on third down as on other downs. After all, defenses don't. The best QBs will exploit defenses' third down tendencies or read and react to target their weaknesses.

Worse QBs will not exploit third down tendencies as well and/or will read and react poorly or not read the defense at all and simply decide what to throw before the snap, come hell or high water. It may be that those things that make a QB worse also make him choose to throw deeper on average.

5
by lightsout85 :: Thu, 10/05/2017 - 6:44pm

Am I the only one who gets that fuzzy feeling inside when the data totally crushes the "commonly held notion" among NFL fans? (re. Alex Smith & deep passes. Even going so far as to stamp out any possible explanations, like deep on 1st or 2nd down).

8
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 10/05/2017 - 10:14pm

The commonly held belief about Smith is that he never throws it farther than your grandmother throws it.

I don't think short throws are why he finds himself in 3rd-long a lot. KC seems to like to dig itself a hole on early downs that Smith has to work out of.

6
by jtr :: Thu, 10/05/2017 - 7:23pm

It's interesting to see that Roethlisberger is near the top here. It feels like the Steelers playcalling so far this season is all screens on 3&long and all bombs on 3&short. I guess all the extra ALEX from the bombs outweighs the screens.
Incidentally, I do think it's worth mentioning in these articles that this is a measure of both QB and OC. Even the most aggressive QB is going to throw for negative ALEX when his coordinator dials up short routes. Alex Smith IS a very risk-averse QB, but a big part of his spot at the bottom is due to Andy Reid's well known fascination with screen passes.

7
by lightsout85 :: Thu, 10/05/2017 - 8:06pm

Your observations are probably right, given that Ben falls 10 spots when ranked by % of throws thrown short. (Personally, I like that measure much better, since it isn't affected by outliers).

9
by greybeard :: Fri, 10/06/2017 - 1:09am

I think the entire Alex Smith ALEX score is dominated by one game (Eagles) where he threw screen passes on two 3rd and 18s and two 3rd and 15s. About -60 yards accumulated on four plays. Screens are not about the QB choosing which receiver to throw to but the coach.

10
by Jerry :: Fri, 10/06/2017 - 3:46am

And I think it's time you acknowledge that whatever Alex Smith's strengths are, throwing past the sticks isn't one of them.

12
by bravehoptoad :: Fri, 10/06/2017 - 10:25am

ALEX is about propensity to throw past the sticks, not effectiveness when doing so. On deep passes, for instance, Smith has league-average accuracy. The problem has always been -- not that he's bad at deep passes -- but that he forgoes them for shorter passes even when the longer pass is the better option.

So no, it is not time to acknowledge your assessment because it is not correct.

16
by greybeard :: Fri, 10/06/2017 - 10:30pm

He has the second longest distance to go yet 7th best DVOA. In the game of throwing past sticks Alex Smith may not be a winner. It seems like in the game of football whatever he/Andy Reid is doing seem to work.

Throwing past sticks is pretty easy BTW if that is your only goal. Any QB can just air it out. Throwing past sticks with success (or behind sticks with success) is what matters. And ALEX is not measuring that.

13
by Scott Kacsmar :: Fri, 10/06/2017 - 11:32am

I think you mean the Chargers game. Smith had like six passes of -11 ALEX or worse in that game. Excluding Week 3, Smith's ALEX is still -1.6 this season. And I would still say if your QB is Aaron Rodgers vs. Alex Smith, your likelihood of wanting to throw a screen on third-and-15 is different based on which quarterback you have. The fact that coach after coach, coordinator after coordinator plays the game this way with Smith at QB tells me all I need to know.

15
by nat :: Fri, 10/06/2017 - 2:43pm

Here's an interesting query: 2017, 3rd down pass play, 10+ yards to go.
http://pfref.com/tiny/0u9js

Looking at the 31 QBs with at least 5 such attempts, Alex Smith stacks up pretty well (through 4 games).

He's above average at converting the first down (ranked 13th at 22.2%). He's excellent at passer rating (4th at 113.5) and Y/A (5th at 11.3). Whatever he's doing, it seems to be working for third-and-long. He's good at converting and even better at getting something where most QBs get nothing. This being FO, we know that field position has value, even on third down.

If you do a similar query for 1-9 yards to go, Smith doesn't look very good at all.
http://pfref.com/tiny/By8z4

It looks more like third-and-7 plays are his problem. In the query here, the average is to have almost 80% of your completions result in first downs. Smith gets the first down 57% of his completions. He ranks badly for Y/A and 1D%. He still does pretty well at passer rating, implying he's getting decent "partial credit" in the way of field position even when he doesn't convert.

It's not screens in third-and-15 situations that are a problem. It may be screens in third-and-7. Or it could be dump offs in short-to-middle yards to go situations. You'd have to look at the play mix.

(Note: I added the 4 games query parameter after doing the analysis. The ranks may be off a bit due to the Thursday game - or not.)

17
by greybeard :: Fri, 10/06/2017 - 10:41pm

I think the reason they were throwing short of sticks was the game situation. Rivers was winning the game for them so no need to take risks.

But, who cares really. Alex Smith guy is pretty good at football. Not Brady (GOAT) good, or Rodgers (possibly second or third best QB ever) good. But his offense has been productive despite not having much of a talent around him the last 4.25 years.

BTW the fact that ALEX has no correlation with success (DVOA or otherwise) tells me all I need to know.

18
by Scott Kacsmar :: Sat, 10/07/2017 - 2:29pm

Well that's just simply not true. Since 2006, everything from a pass to the sticks (0 ALEX) or up to +13 ALEX converts third downs at a higher rate than any negative ALEX pass. The only time a negative ALEX pass even breaks 40% is -1 (41.9%). Meanwhile, +1 ALEX converts 63.9% of the time. We also know that drops on +ALEX passes cost teams conversions, whereas drops on -ALEX passes could go either way.

19
by greybeard :: Sat, 10/07/2017 - 2:55pm

How convenient that we are now talking about a subset of ALEX and have removed the yards gained and interceptions thrown as factors and only concentrating on converting the down.

20
by Scott Kacsmar :: Sat, 10/07/2017 - 2:58pm

Nothing wrong with focusing on the main goal. If you're that risk averse to worry so much about interceptions, why throw the ball at all?

Season after season, we see the same general trend line within 5 yards of the marker. https://twitter.com/FO_ScottKacsmar/status/916738479144538114

21
by greybeard :: Sat, 10/07/2017 - 3:02pm

Have you even eyeballed your own table? The top 5 ALEX are ranked 5, 11, 23, 24 and 31 on DVOA and bottom 5 ALEX are 3, 4, 7, 14, 17. This is despite that the top five have 6.6, 6.8, 6.8., 6.8 and 8.6 yards needed versus bottom five needed 7.4, 8.2, 8.3, 8.6 and 8.9 yards.

What a waste of time.

24
by Scott Kacsmar :: Sat, 10/07/2017 - 3:04pm

It's Week 4, and Jared Goff leads the NFL in DVOA. Don't tell me the last 11 years aren't telling us anything.

22
by Scott Kacsmar :: Sat, 10/07/2017 - 3:02pm

0 to +5 ALEX: 57.6% conversion, 11.0 YPC, 6.4 YPA, 3.2% INT
-5 to -1 ALEX: 35.3% conversion, 8.9 YPC, 5.7 YPA, 2.3% INT

I'll take a slight increase in INT risk any day if I could almost double my conversion rate and gain more yards.

23
by greybeard :: Sat, 10/07/2017 - 3:03pm

I have to give it to you. You are big believer of your philosophy. Nothing would convince you. "Strong minded" as they call it in kindergarten.

25
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/10/2017 - 1:42pm

Why would the Chiefs draft a qb to replace him if hes a good qb? Why would the 49ers draft Kaep if Alex was a good qb.

Alex Smith is having a really good season this year, but its a bit of an outlier to his career. I give Reid credit for playing to his strengths. Thats good coaching, but Alex also has some flaws that make me hesitate to putting him as anything beyond solid.

26
by greybeard :: Tue, 10/10/2017 - 5:03pm

When 49ers drafted Kaep, Alex was a free agent. They signed Alex later. It was the lockout year.

Regardless, 49ers thought Kaep was going to be great. And some people agreed. Jowarski thought he would re-define the QB position. So 49ers -in their mind- were replacing him with a great QB that will bring in multiple SBs. Ot did not work out that way unfortunately.

I cannot say what the motivations are behind what Chiefs did. They had a pretty dysfunctional year at the front office this year. Their GM got fired. They cut Maclin and have nobody as their true WR1. Which seems to have upset Reid. Hill is exciting and a superb special team player and multi purpose WR. But not a true WR1 like Garcon or Green even Baldwin is. They may not make it to Superbowl because of the lack of good WR corps.

They may also have though Mahomes is a generational talent, something like an Aaron Rodgers. Or they may not think Alex is good. Maybe they fired their GM for spending all the draft choices on Mahomes while they have a good QB. Your guess is as good as anybody's.

27
by theslothook :: Tue, 10/10/2017 - 6:05pm

I have to admit, judging Alex Smith isn't easy. He does some things at a pretty high level that you don't much see from most qbs. He reads a defense well. He spreads the ball around. He tends to avoid making terrible decisions. His accuracy is also good.

But there are some real holes as well. I've watched him a lot and I still find him horribly risk averse. He also struggles throwing to the outside consistently and prefers big targets in Kelce and checkdowns in Hill. Theres a reason the Chiefs went eons without a wide receiver catching a touchdown pass.

He also has a tendency to roll out a bunch and that still hasn't gone away. He also takes a fair share of sacks and I don't particularly trust him to stare down a barrel and hit a 3rd and long pass. Hes clearly above average and I would take him over the majority of qbs in the league, but he has a very hard ceiling even in an offense that completely maximizes his skillset.

I don't necessarily agree with drafting of Maholmes, nor do I think the ALEX stat accurately reflects him as a qb in the league.