Patrick Mahomes II might be QB of the future, but Alex Smith is still QB of the present for Kansas City
When the Chiefs traded up in the 2017 NFL Draft to select Patrick Mahomes II — their first QB selection in the first round in 34 years –it raised some eyebrows. Chief among them (no pun intended) were those of Alex Smith, the incumbent starting QB in Kansas City.
The statement was clear: Mahomes would eventually replace Smith under center.
QB competition old news in NFL
In a league where this is common, it’s not exactly new territory for Smith — who lost the starting job in San Francisco in 2012 to a younger, upstart Colin Kaepernick. We watched a similar happening unfold in Dallas last year with Tony Romo and Dak Prescott. Granted that was a slightly different scenario with Romo’s ongoing injury woes.
Alex Smith, on the other hand, has been relatively successful for Kansas City. He led them to a 12-4 record in 2016 and a Division title in the AFC West. He maintained a 91.2 QB rating with 15 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He has, for all intents and purposes, been a solid presence on the field and in the locker room.
So Mahomes’ name got called at the draft in April, it was an admittedly awkward situation for the 33 year-old starter. But as he has with most of his career, Smith handled the situation with grace and maturity — he reached out to the rookie gunslinger directly.
“Sometimes it can be awkward,” Smith said. “You just kind of embrace that and be real. I think everybody just appreciates that, being honest. That’s what I kind of emphasized to him, that any of that extracurricular stuff that maybe goes on elsewhere just doesn’t take place here. It’s kind of the environment we have.
“Really, just touching base. It was quick. It’s a whirlwind. I can remember being there. There’s a lot going on. You’re meeting a thousand different people. I just wanted to introduce myself. That was really it. That’s a special time, to get drafted. He had his family there. Really, for me, I just told him to enjoy it … and told him we’d have plenty of time to get to know each other.”
It was a solid move for two players that now find themselves entwined in a good old fashioned QB competition. But, it seems, Mahomes will be in a similar position as Aaron Rodgers was when he got drafted. That is, Rodgers rode the bench and learned everything he could from Brett Favre before taking the helm. In the end, the situation worked out well for both men.
Sticking with Alex Smith
Andy Reid and company are hoping the same for Smith and Mahomes. But for now, Smith is still the starter and the Chiefs are doing everything they can to retrain the public eye upon that fact.
“Alex is the starting quarterback,” coach Andy Reid said on the night the Chiefs drafted Mahomes. “Nothing is going to change there.
“Right now, Patrick is not absolutely ready to play. He’s got some work to do, but he’s coming into a great room. He gets an opportunity to learn from Alex Smith, which will be a phenomenal experience for him to learn the offense, so we have to be patient with him. Definitely, [Mahomes is] not a finished product right now, but he has tremendous upside. We think he’ll fit into this offense very well. He’s a good person. He’s intelligent. He’s got great skill, and I just think he’ll be a great Kansas City Chiefs player when it’s all said and done.”
Key words: when it’s all said and done. For now, Smith is still the top guy. To ride that point home, Reid listed Mahomes as the third quarterback in their first full-squad practice last Tuesday, behind Smith and Tyler Bray.
Receiver Jeremy Maclin weighed in this past week after practice.
“Clearly, when you take a quarterback in the first round there’s always speculation about this, speculation about that,” Maclin said. “But the good thing about coach Reid and his track record is that when he says something, he means it. We’re going to rally behind that.
“This is Alex’s show. We’re all behind him. I look forward to us taking that next step as a team. Like I said, we’re close. We’ve got to take that next step.”
So for now, that’s the gist of it. The Chiefs are in a fortunate position with Mahomes. While Smith just turned 33 on May 7, he has shown few signs of slowing down. For many teams in the NFL the QB situation is a one big question mark — as with the Jets for example. But the Chiefs have their starter and they have their future. It seems Reid will be doing everything in his power to motivate Mahomes to become the player the Chiefs think he can be.
In the mean time, we can quit the speculation. Smith is the guy, and come August, he’ll be the one taking the snaps.