Chiefs: Is QB Accuracy enough?
Alex Smith has been the second most accurate quarterback in the NFL this year with 80.6% of his throws on target. Only Russell Wilson has been more precise with his passes. Smith has ranked in the top 5 in Accuracy Percentage in each of the past 4 weeks.
If you were to look just at his accuracy stats, one could make an argument for why Smith is a top-tier NFL QB, capable of leading his team to deep playoff runs. But stats without context are often misleading, so let’s take a closer look at why Smith has been so accurate.
Smith has attempted the fewest deep passes of any qualifying QB this year with just 5.7% of his attempts traveling further than 20 yards. Last year, he went deep on 8.1% of his attempts, 3rd lowest in the NFL. On the rare instances Smith throws the long ball, the results have been a disappointing 3-8 passing, 73 yards, and 2 INTs.
Not only does Smith rarely throw deep, he’s also much more likely to throw very short – hitches, crossing routes, quick outs, screens, and check downs – all considered high completion percentage plays. To date, 100 of his 144 attempts have been to targets in the backfield or within 10 yards from the line of scrimmage.
This isn’t to say Smith and the Chiefs can’t succeed with a low-risk, high-percentage passing game. Just that when you look at our Accuracy Percentage rankings, keep in mind that the types of throws an offensive system requires a QB to make may have just as much impact on the stat as the QB himself.