Chan Gailey wouldn’t divulge how frequently he plans to use utility man Brad Smith this Sunday, but the Bills head coach also didn’t hide the fact that Smith will play a significant role in Buffalo’s offensive plan at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs expect to see the former University of Missouri quarterback line up at wide receiver, in the wildcat formation, as a return man and in other unorthodox sets throughout Sunday’s regular season opener.
“I went over to Missouri and worked (Smith) out one-on-one when he was coming out (of college) and really liked the player, Chiefs head coach Todd Haley said. “He gives them great versatility. He can run with it, he can throw it; he can catch it and return it.”
The Gailey/Smith marriage seems perfect from what Kansas City sports fans remember of the pair.
As Chiefs offensive coordinator, Gailey constantly threw new different personnel packages at opponents. After both Damon Huard and Brodie Croyle went down to injury in 2008, Gailey went as far as implementing a form of the pistol offense to compliment the skill sets of third-string QB Tyler Thigpen
Thigpen signed in Buffalo this offseason and is now the backup to starter Ryan Fitzpatrick.
At Missouri, Smith became the first player in NCAA history to pass for 8,000 yards and rush for 4,000 yards in a career. He left school as Missouri’s career leader in both rushing (42) and passing (56) touchdowns.
“The thing that he gives you is the versatility to be able to run and throw it,” Gailey said. “He is very dangerous with the ball in his hands whether it’s at receiver or on a reverse running the wildcat. He played a two-minute drill running our offense in preseason. He just did the two-minute drill and moved it fairly decently at the end of the ball game. He gives you a lot of versatility there being able to run it and throw it.”
Buffalo was able to lure the jack of all trades from division rival New York thanks in large part to a reported four-year, $15 million contract and the opportunity to become an impact player in Gailey’s offensive system.
New NFL rules dropping the third quarterback designation, adding a 46th man to the gameday active list, did nothing but help Smith’s value on the open market.
“That was just icing on the cake to be able to have that (rule change) and to be able to upgrade your overall team,” Gailey said. “The guy’s not just one dimensional. He’s not just a wildcat quarterback. He’s a receiver. He plays special teams and he’s a returner. He can do a lot of things for you. We have 46 (roster) positions now he has just opened up a ton for us.”
And the Chiefs expect to see plenty of Smith Sunday afternoon. Sometimes he’ll act as a decoy and sometimes he’ll be the featured player.
What makes Smith most difficult to scheme for is his lack of film playing in Gailey’s offensive system. The Chiefs only have four games of preseason tape, some film of Buffalo operating out of the wildcat formation using different personnel last season and footage of Smith working in a previous role with the Jets.
“We used some wildcat last year with Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller so with Brad Smith this year we will be doing more of that,” Bill QB Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “But it is one of those things that if it works I am real happy with it. Brad is a really dynamic player, not only back there but as a receiver and as a returner. So I am really looking forward to seeing what he can do this year.”
“You have to be more persistent in what you’re doing and cognizant in your rush lanes for (both Smith and Fitzpatrick),” Chiefs DE
Smith has played the Chiefs twice during his five-year NFL career, both in New York, but hasn’t appeared in the capacity most expect to see him in Sunday. In those two games, Smith only attempted one pass and rushed the football just once. He’s never returned a kick against the Chiefs.
In addition to preparing for the unexpected with Smith, the Chiefs are also busy readying for a number of young play-makers just beginning their NFL ascent in Buffalo.
“Stevie Johnson obviously started to get a lot of notoriety as the year went on last year,” Haley said. “It looks like he’s got a chance to be a really, really good player.
“You’ve got a lot of different shapes and sizes, which creates problems. I think it’ll be a great test for us as a defense in trying to cover all the different weapons in addition to two running backs that not only can run the heck out of the ball, but can catch it, too.”