It won’t be official until after the NFL league year begins at 4 p.m. Eastern time on March 12, but new Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid moved quickly and boldly to acquire the only quarterback in this year’s market he believes can help his team win 2013.
As good a judge of quarterbacks as there is in the league, Reid and general manager John Dorsey agreed to send San Francisco a second-round pick this year (34th overall) along with a third-round choice in 2014 that could become a second-round pick depending on Smith’s performance. It is also believed the Chiefs could receive a third-day pick from the 49ers in the fifth, sixth or seventh round.
What’s comical coming from Kansas City fans that cheered last season when quarterback Matt Cassel was injured in a game is to hear complaints that the Chiefs gave up too much, especially if the compensation turns out to be two second-round picks. Lost in that misguided opinion is the fact that the 2014 second-round choice will only happen if Smith plays well.
Smith is the right fit for Reid’s offense, and the Chiefs have a foundation of offensive talent that includes running back Jamaal Charles and the team has been negotiating to re-sign wide receiver Dwayne Bowe.
Former Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli said on SiriusXM NFL Radio that he would have placed the franchise tag on Bowe for the second straight year because his demands on a ,ong-term contract are too high.
Said Pioli, “Dwayne is a good, productive player at a position of need. He’s the best receiver on the Chiefs. He’s one of the better receivers in the NFL. I don’t believe he’s as good as maybe his agent thinks – and when I say that I don’t say that disrespectfully – I just mean there was a difference in opinion. I think he’s a top receiver that would deserve to be compensated in the top-10 range, not the top five.”
Meanwhile, Chiefs tackle Eric Winston was glad to hear that Smith is coming to Kansas City even though it was Winson that stood up for Cassel last season, blasting those fans that cheered Cassel’s injury.
“I know I’m going to do everything I can to help him,” Winston said of Smith. “It’s about winning. Alex is a guy who’s been there and has what it takes. Alex can beat you a lot of different ways. He’s a lot more athletic than people give him credit for. It’s an exciting time with all the new people coming in. It was definitely a change of direction the organization felt we needed to go in.”
Winston did show further support for Cassel, telling USA Today, “I have a friendship with Matt Cassel. Obviously, you had the sense they were probably going to go in a different direction just because of the totality of all that’s happened. But at the same time, you realize it’s going to cost some of your friends their jobs. Obviously, the organization wanted to bring in new blood. You know that going in. You know everybody is up for review and that’s just how it is.
“For me, it’s personally bittersweet because I believe in Matt. I think Cassel can get it done. Maybe it will be a great change for him and he can go somewhere else where he can get a fresh start as well.”
Smith has yet to comment because the trade isn’t official, but his mom spoke to the Kansas City Star.
Noting how things changed rapidly last season after Smith was sidelined by a concussion, she said, “It was bittersweet. It was hard. Alex had worked long and hard and been through a lot of coaching turnover, and a lot of issues … injuries. It seems like things were really clicking, and he was playing at an exceptional high level. It was hard.”
But she’s glad her son will be playing for Reid, and told the Star, “You’re going to get a smart, very hard-working, very high-character person, and by any measure, one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet.”
Standing up for Matt
Former Southern Cal quarterback Matt Barkley won’t throw until his March 27 Pro Day because of shoulder surgery he had last season, but Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said he doesn’t understand why so many believe there might not be any quarterbacks selected in this year’s first round of the draft.
Kiffin told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “I think he’s going to be a great starting quarterback in the NFL, and the film shows it. The plays he makes, all the throws he’s made here, the leadership qualities.”
Barkley stayed in school rather than enter the draft in 2012, and it didn’t work out. The team had issues after being ranked No. 1 in the preseason, and Barkley was then injured.
Asked about Barkley’s struggles, Kiffin laid the blame on the defense. He said, “I’ve said this before: If Matt Barkley had the defense that Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer had, Matt Barkley would have won the Heisman Trophy just like they did. He would have had the winning records they had.”
Kiffin then harkened back to his team’s game against Stanford and Andrew Luck in 2011.
Kiffin said, “Andrew threw an interception for a touchdown and, their very next drive we stop them, and (safety) T.J. McDonald gets called for a head-to-head personal foul that keeps the drive alive. Is that Matt Barkley’s fault? If that flag’s not thrown and we stop them right there, you go, ‘Man, Matt just beat Andrew Luck.’ When I remember Matt, I think of all that stuff.”
Asked about what went wrong last season, Barkley said, “Everyone has their opinion, everyone has their reason. I don’t necessarily think you can pin it on one specific thing that happened this year; not one moment that kind of set the tone for the rest of the season – it wasn’t anything like that. Practices were great, we spent extra time with the wideouts, with the O-line making sure we had everything, and then during games sometimes it would just break down for some reason whether that was miscommunication on routes, signals that I would signal out or the play call coming in.
“Just little things that could have been flipped, just one play and it would have been a difference in a game. It just didn’t go our way.”
Asked if there was a game from the 2012 season that would show teams what he is capable of, Barkley said, “Even though it was a loss, the Oregon game would be the game to watch. Offensively we did very well and it ended up being a shootout and we got the short end of the stick. But I made some great throws during that game, we managed it pretty well.
“It’s kind of tough in a game like that when the other team is scoring so much, you kind of almost sense at times you need to make plays or hurry up or try to do something crazy. It might have happened just once or twice, but for the most part was able to hold the team intact. We put a lot of points on the board and put our team in a position to win.”
It’s in the Interview
All NFL teams acknowledge that the interviews with players as well as extensive physicals are what NFL teams learn the most from during the Scouting Combine. It’s sure not 40 times, although you’d think so from the way the event is presented on television.
Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said even the interviews can be difficult because players come in so well prepared for them. However, he told of what his team’s antidote is for that.
He said, “A lot of times these kids are prepped so extensively before they walk in the door that it can put a wall up in a sense and inhibit us from really getting what we want out of the interview. It is a disservice to us and ultimately the player in the end.
“Our weapon against this is (head coach) Chuck (Pagano) himself. He has a way of getting kids to open up because he builds a level of trust so quickly with people just due to his genuine nature. It is extremely helpful having him in our corner and engaging each and every player that walks through our door every night.”
Jerry Wants Credit
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been criticized often for his role as the team’s de facto general manager, and most Cowboys fans would probably rejoice if Jones ever fired himself from that role.
Of course, that’s not going to happen, and Jones had an interesting insight when he was asked recently about the perception others have of tjhe job he does.
“I pretty much go with what I did the night I bought the team,” Jones said. “I said I was going to be the GM. … I couldn’t be involved to the degree I had been involved in ownership and not do the things the GM does in spending the money and all of those kinds of things. It would be a facade if someone else was sitting in my shoes and someone thought they were spending the money. It would be deception.
“Now, from the standpoint of the decisions that have been made – I would grant you the decisions that have been made over the years have not produced a Super Bowl, two Super Bowls or three Super Bowls that I would like to have been a part of. And the only thing I am going to do there is keep trying and then make sure I get the credit when we do get that one. Y’all are going to give it to me, aren’t you?”