Former Ute Smith appears to be good fit for former Cougar coaches' system
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Even before the Super Bowl, during Andy Reid's first days in Kansas City, Trent Dilfer predicted the Chiefs' new head coach would make a strong push to acquire quarterback Alex Smith from San Francisco.
Dilfer, a former NFL quarterback and now an ESPN analyst, had no inside information, though he was a teammate of Smith with the 49ers in 2006 and 2007 and is now a friend.
It just made sense. Dilfer knew what Reid was looking for and that it played to Smith's strengths.
"Andy's a pass-first guy and he's all about mental toughness, decision-making, getting the ball out quickly, executing the plan," Dilfer said. "He's wanted to expand what he does at the line of scrimmage, and Alex gives you great versatility at the line of scrimmage. He's as good as anyone in the league at seeing things before the snap and digesting the information and getting his offense into the right mode, whatever that might be.
"Alex is very efficient in the shorter and intermediate passing game, and that's kind of what Andy's offense lives by — but he also has the ability to push the ball down the field."
The Chiefs eventually made the trade with the 49ers to acquire Smith. Their new era at quarterback starts in earnest this week, when their offseason program begins. The Chiefs won't get on the field for full-team practice for another couple of weeks, but Smith can throw to receivers and begin to learn Reid's offensive system.
The Chiefs have high expectations for Smith, who was the first overall pick in the draft in 2005 out of Utah. They've held similar hopes for other backup quarterbacks they've acquired to be starters — Elvis Grbac and Matt Cassel immediately spring to mind — and those usually didn't work out as they planned.
The Chiefs always moved on to the next best thing. There's no telling yet whether the same fate awaits Smith — whether he's destined to eventually be piled onto the quarterback scrap heap, following Grbac, Cassel and many others.
But Dilfer isn't the only NFL observer who believes this particular union of quarterback, head coach and system will work out better than most of the others.
"Andy's really a coach that likes to throw the ball on first down to give the quarterback some easy throws and to move the chains," former Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards said. "His offense isn't the deep vertical pass. He'll throw some of those, but he's more about implementing the offensive personnel and getting guys involved.
"Alex Smith will do a good job with that. He's smart. He can change the protections and change the routes or whatever he wants to do from the line of scrimmage. So I think he has a good chance of being the guy for the Chiefs for a long time."
Reid has displayed a deft touch with quarterbacks during his NFL coaching career. He worked with Brett Favre as quarterbacks coach with Green Bay, though Favre by that time was well on his way to becoming an eventual Hall of Fame player.
With the Eagles, Reid — who started his coaching career at BYU — worked with, among others, Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick. Those guys and others who played quarterback for Philadelphia were better players for the Eagles than they were before joining the team ... or after they left.
After coming to the Chiefs, Reid was rumored to be interested in trading for one of his Philadelphia quarterbacks, Nick Foles. But Reid said recently, after the trade with San Francisco was completed, that Smith was the only starting quarterback the Chiefs were serious about acquiring.
"That was really never part of the discussion," Reid said of Foles. "I had my eyes on Alex really when I took the job there."
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