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Sunday, August 24, 2014
Smith's picks most alarming part of KC loss

By Adam Teicher

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Except for one glaring problem, you might be able to overlook the Kansas City Chiefs’ continuing offensive woes. Except for that same glaring problem, you might be able to pass off Saturday night’s 30-12 loss to the Minnesota Vikings as one of those preseason hiccups.

But the offensive struggles and the blowout loss have meaning for the same reason: Turnovers by quarterback Alex Smith.

Smith
Smith threw two interceptions Saturday night, both coming with the Chiefs inside the Minnesota 20. Both were bad interceptions, the kind generally thrown by a rookie still feeling his way around the NFL game and not a veteran like Smith, who has built his career around protecting the ball.

If Smith is going to commit turnovers like that when the regular season begins, the Chiefs are sunk. Smith doesn’t make enough big plays to overcome that.

The Chiefs are well aware of that. As quarterbacks coach Matt Nagy said during training camp of turnovers by Smith, “We can’t do that at this position. That’s one of our strengths."

The strength was a weakness against the Vikings. Smith’s first interception happened on a first down, when a quarterback should never take a chance. But Smith made a late throw intended for Frankie Hammond Jr. in the end zone that the Vikings got instead. He was guilty of staring down his intended receiver, Travis Kelce, on the second interception.

They are plays Smith normally avoids. He threw just seven interceptions last season.

“They’re two things that are very fixable," Smith said. “Certainly they need to be fixed."

The Chiefs don’t have much time left to fix them. They’ll have a couple of days of practice this week and a final preseason game on Thursday night against the Packers in Green Bay.

But the starters might not play in Green Bay. If they do, they probably won’t play much.

If this was it for Smith and the starters in the preseason, they wound up where they started, as the starters failed to score a touchdown in 16 possessions.

“You do expect to take steps as the preseason moves on," Smith said. “We all would have loved to end it here on a better note. I’m still very comfortable with where we’re at. We got a ton of great work in at camp and throughout this preseason. We just needed to finish. I don’t think it’s anything to panic about or get too worried about."

Maybe not. Maybe when running back Jamaal Charles and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe get back in the lineup, the Chiefs will perk up offensively and all of this will be forgotten.

But not everyone was so quick to shrug off these problems as no big deal.

“That’s something you don’t want to have to turn on," tackle Jeff Allen said, referring to the Chiefs’ inability to finish drives with touchdowns. “You want to be efficient now. You want to have that sense of urgency now."