Coming into the 2014 season, one of the biggest storylines surrounding the Kansas City Chiefs had to deal with quarterback Alex Smith.
At the time, Smith was only under contract for one more year and both sides reportedly wanted to work out a new deal, and they did. Smith signed a four-year extension that will keep him under contract in Kansas City through the 2018 season.
Through five games, Smith is on pace to set career highs in terms of completions, attempts, passing yards and touchdowns. All of those records were set last year, which was his first in Kansas City and with head coach Andy Reid.
Smith has completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 1,066 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions through the first five games of the season. But in his last three games, Smith has thrown eight touchdowns and just one interception.
Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson believes Smith and the offense are coming along well.
"We kind of caught our stride against Denver and Miami and [Smith is] in a really good place right now going into this off-week," Pederson said. "There are some things in these first five games from his perspective that we can obviously build on now going into the second half of the season."
Against the blitz, Smith is completing 64 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and zero interceptions. He has a quarterback rating in the red zone of 112, which ranks among the best in the NFL.
According to Chiefs quarterbacks coach Matt Nagy, Smith is a cerebral quarterback.
"I think one of his strengths is that he doesn't overthink it," Nagy said. "He keeps it simple. Every once in a while, there's going to be a play or two where maybe the defense gets us with a particular blitz and maybe he doesn't fix a protection.
"That's very rare with him so again, I'll go back to I think that's one of his biggest strengths is not making it paralysis by analysis."
View the top 20 photos of Alex Smith from the 2014 season
Smith's athleticism has also been on display this season as he has rushed the ball for 109 yards on 18 attempts, which ranks third in the NFL among quarterbacks.
According to Pro Football Focus, Smith has attempted nine passes beyond 20 yards, and his accuracy percentage, which includes one drop from a receiver, ranks him higher in that category than Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Peyton Manning or Tony Romo.
Nagy explained how this offense puts Smith in a position to be successful.
"I would say [Smith's] at the point now where he has complete control of the offense," Nagy said. "Now, there are going to be some plays here or there that he might have some questions on what he wants to do. He may have a particular opinion on where he wants to go, but usually we always tell him, 'You got the keys to the car.'
"In the end, he's the guy that makes the final decision on where he's making the throw and we're going to give him the opportunities to make the best decision possible."
Looking to the last 11 games of the regular season, Pederson likes how Smith is making it tough on a defense to target one specific player, and that should help moving forward.
"I think [Smith] is utilizing his playmakers very well," Pederson said. "At the end of the game, you see seven, eight, nine, or 10 guys that had targets and that's something that you want to see. You don't want to see just two and three guys. You want to see multiple guys so it's good that [Smith] is spreading the ball around and keeping everybody involved."