KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Midway through this week, Alex Smith was still pondering the misfires that plagued the Kansas City Chiefs in their loss at Houston when he normally would be focused on the upcoming opponent.
It was an unmistakable reminder of the enormous price of those missed opportunities.
And just how rare they have been.
“I’ve been thinking about it and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t,” Smith said.
“We haven’t had a day like that in a long time. I can’t remember the last time. I was going through missed connections — there were probably seven or eight of them and a lot of yards.”
Indeed, Smith completed just 20 of 37 passes in the 19-12 defeat, his worst completion percentage since Week 5 last season.
But he was even worse when it came to his wide receivers, completing half of his 24 attempts to Jeremy Maclin, Chris Conley, Albert Wilson and Tyreek Hill.
Most confounding about that statistic? He’s been working with all but Hill for more than a year, so it stands to reason the chemistry between quarterback and wide receiver should be better.
“There were a lot of missed connections, a lot of offense and a lot of plays that ultimately changed the day,” Smith said.
“The games are fast, you get going and playing fast and you’re not always 100 percent. There were certainly a lot of plays out there that we normally make.”
Take the 15 passes directed at Maclin, his most sure-handed wide receiver. Not only did Maclin drop a pass — he’s only dropped four the past two years combined — but he only hauled in just six of them. Three of those completions came on the final drive, the game already out of reach.
Two of the missed completions were on third down, scuttling potential drives.
In fact, Smith dropped back to pass 11 times on third down last Sunday. One snap over his head resulted in a lost fumble, two more plays ended in sacks and two completions were shy of the first-down marker. Only twice did he hit for a first down, and just one of those was to a wide receiver.
It was a big reason why Kansas City was just 3 of 14 on third downs, and why the Chiefs failed to score a touchdown. They had to settle for four field goals from Cairo Santos.
“It wasn’t necessarily accuracy, it was just being on the same page — the wide receivers and quarterbacks on the same page,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.
“That’s something I have to work with. If you’re a hair off it can affect things. That’s why we practice so much.”
Practice can certainly help. But remember, Smith has been working with Maclin, Conley and Wilson the past two seasons, through two training camps and countless practices.
“I would definitely say it’s a fluke,” Conley said. “But it also comes down to the way we practice, so we have to be consistent here. We have to hold ourselves accountable, and we have to do some things better in practice as well.”
Smith and Co. should have a chance to fix their communication problems on Sunday.
The New York Jets have one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL, and will no doubt get plenty of pressure on the quarterback.
But when given time to throw, opposing passers have been able to shred their secondary, even beating perennial Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis a couple of times.
The Jets are allowing more than 315 yards per game through the air the first two weeks.
“You don’t panic. You go back to the fundamentals a little bit,” Smith said. “You go back to the work, communicating, making sure we’re on the same page and getting those things worked out.”
Notes: S Eric Berry (knee) and LBs Tamba Hali (knee) and Sam Barrington (hamstring) were back at practice Thursday after missing the previous day. … There was no change in the status of OLs Jah Reid (ankle), Parker Ehinger (concussion) or Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff (ankle). Reid and Ehinger did not practice Wednesday and Duvernay-Tardiff has been limited this week.