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Andy Reid: I still think Chiefs can win with Alex Smith
Sunday's disaster at Arrowhead Stadium hasn't shaken Kansas City's confidence in Alex Smith.
"Do I still think we can win with Alex? Yeah, we were right there," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of his starting quarterback on Monday, per Terez Paylor of The Kansas City Star.
Smith stumbled badly in Sunday's 18-16 playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, throwing for just 172 yards, with much of that coming during a fourth-quarter surge that fell short.
After leading an opening scoring drive, Smith's next six possessions resulted in a punt, pick, punt, fumble and two more punts before the Chiefs finally chiseled out a field goal at the end of the third quarter.
To be fair, Smith saw no help from the cast of weapons who helped Kansas City rally down the stretch.
As we noted Sunday, tight end Travis Kelce -- who topped 100-plus receiving yards in five of his previous seven games -- accounted for just 34 yards over the first 50 minutes against Pittsburgh. His most memorable play was a disastrous, unhinged personal-foul that drew the ire of his own teammates.
Game-breaking rookie Tyreek Hill, meanwhile, managed just 45 total yards, while starting wideout Jeremy Maclin finished second among all pass-catchers with a meager 28 yards through the air.
The finger-pointing goes beyond Smith, who rolled into the game with the league's fourth-highest playoff passer rating among active quarterbacks. Still, the Chiefs starter -- like 90 percent of the league -- simply can't duplicate the play of the NFL's premier passers.
Smith is ideal for a ball-control offense that wins games by eliminating mistakes, but he's not the guy who can reliably scorch defenses in January with a litany of jaw-dropping throws all over the field. Sunday's loss was a total team letdown, but it's fair to ask if -- and how -- Smith's ceiling will suddenly rise next season.
From where we stand, Kansas City needs everyone on offense playing at a near-perfect level for Smith to make it to a Super Bowl with the Chiefs. When that doesn't happen -- as it didn't on Sunday -- a team like Pittsburgh can sail by without scoring a touchdown.
It's not that Smith should be replaced -- plenty of teams would snatch him up -- but he certainly deserves competition. It would make sense for Reid to examine free agency and the draft for a quarterback or two who can furnish this attack with a different look.
Chiefs fans don't want to hear it -- especially not today -- but this coaching staff would be wise to take a long look at this roster before next September. Why not explore all possibilities?