Andy Reid repeatedly stood behind Alex Smith this week, citing holistic problems with the offense beyond the quarterback. The Chiefs' offensive line has had its troubles, and the run game can't get on track.
If Sunday's game at MetLife Stadium brings more problems for Smith, could the Chiefs change course down the line?
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport said on NFL GameDay Morning rookie Patrick Mahomes still has strides to make in his development.
"My understanding is that it is not off the table that we will see Patrick Mahomes later this season at some point," Rapoport said. "However, the Chiefs' plan as it stands right now is to have Patrick Mahomes take a redshirt season. They plan to have Alex Smith [be] their quarterback for the rest of the year. They obviously hit a little bit of a lull. They believe it's more physical mistakes than anything and they hope and think that the offense will respond.
"Also, it's important to remember that Patrick Mahomes is still learning. He is still running the scout team in practice. [He] hasn't run the Chiefs' plays full speed since Week 4 of the preseason. He still has a little ways to go before he's ready. But he is insanely talented. They love him. If the offense continues to falter, we could see him."
Smith struggling down the stretch of the season is nothing new, especially the deep-ball regression we've seen in 2017.
Smith on passes of 20-plus air yards since 2015:First 8 games of season: 3.5 attempts per game 42.1 completion percentage, 16.0 yards per attempt, 8-0 TD-INT, 124.3 passer rating Last 8 games of season: 2.8 attempts per game 37.3 completion percentage, 12.2 yards per attempt, 2-4 TD-INT, 64.3 passer rating
Sitting atop the AFC West at 6-5, Reid will stick with Smith as long as the playoffs are in sight. Barring injury or a complete meltdown from the veteran, don't expect to see Mahomes soon. In a weak AFC, the Chiefs will remain in the hunt down the stretch. It will take a lot more than a few missed seam routes from Smith for Reid to burn Mahomes' redshirt.