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Being Alex Smith means dealing with backhanded compliments.
The quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs got another one the other day, courtesy of Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
Pryor, when asked if he aspired to the kind of efficiency displayed by Smith, said, “ I think I’m a little more risky than him. He does his thing and that’s him. I just go play ball . . . I know they’ve got a lot of checkdowns. That’s efficient, I guess. We want to be explosive and try to attack.’’
Less than a year after losing his job to Colin Kaepernick because of a concussion, Smith leads the Chiefs (5-0) against the Raiders (2-3) Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
Smith, traded to the Chiefs for two second-round draft picks, remains as he was with the 49ers. He’s safe and efficient. More of a game-manager than a game breaker.
“He doesn’t turn the ball over. He makes good decisions in the passing game,’’ Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “They’ve done exactly what they need to do.’’
What Smith has done at a higher rate than any quarterback since 2011 is win games. His 24-5-1 record as a starter during the span is a winning percentage of .800. That is superior to Tom Brady (29-8, .784) and Aaron Rodgers (27-8, .771). Only Peyton Manning (18-3, .857) is better, and he missed the entire 2011 season with a neck injury.
Smith took over a team that was 2-14 a year ago and had better passing and rushing numbers than Kaepernick, but has no interest in claiming vindication.
“It’s five games in,’’ Smith said by conference call. “This is still so early in the season. We’ve done a good job positioning ourselves, but talk to me in December.’’
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Smith probably has exceeded expectations in terms of being a leader.
“It’s not so much what he says, it’s the way he carries himself, the way he emits what it is to be a leader,’’ Chiefs tight end Sean McGrath told the Kansas City Star.
Smith said he didn’t attempt to assert himself as a leader so much as he simply tried to be himself.
“I think one thing everybody sees is when you’re not sincere and when you try to be someone you’re not,’’ Smith said. “Everybody can see a fraud.’’
Smith faces an Oakland defense which blitzed heavily and from every angle through most of the first three games, only to back off somewhat with a lead against the San Diego Chargers. The result was 315 passing yards in the second half by Philip Rivers, but also two of their three interceptions in successfully protecting a lead.
Whatever the Raiders were doing, don’t call it a “prevent’’ defense.
“Prevent means taking your foot off the gas,’’ defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said. “We don’t ever take our foot off the gas. We play.’’
Allen called it “situational’’ football.
“At that point in time, yards don’t cost you anything,’’ Allen said. “The only thing that costs you is points.’’
From what Smith has seen on film, he expects the Raiders to vary their looks and send extra rushers from different angles.
“They throw a lot at you. A ton of different looks. A lot of pressure,’’ Smith said. “I think every guy on that defense is coming at one point or another, all 11 guys. Last week they scored early and were kind of able to sit on it a little bit because the Chargers were out of a balanced game. ‘’
The Chiefs are an NFL-best plus-10 in turnover ratio in part because Smith has only three interceptions and Kansas City has lost just two fumbles. Allen feels the best shot the Raiders have of getting the ball back lies with being unpredictable.
“It’s all predicated on being able to get some pressure on him and make him uncomfortable in the pocket, to be able to do some things that hopefully make him make a bad decision,’’ Allen said.
– Running backs Darren McFadden (hamstring) and Rashad Jennings (hamstring) practiced for the second straight day, increasing their chances of facing the Chiefs.
Center Stefen Wisniewski (knee) did not practice and Andre Gurode is the probable starter at center.
– Sebastian Janikowski was puzzled a bouquet of balloons at his locker Monday. They came courtesy of punter and holder Marquette King, celebrating their first 50-yard kick to together.
How did Janikowski respond?
“He said, `What’s wrong with this guy?,’ ‘’ King said.
– Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston, second in the league with 7.5 sacks, has been cleared to practice but has not yet been cleared to play in the game against the Raiders following a concussion, according to ESPN.