KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Unhappy Kansas City Chiefs fans jammed the phone lines to sports talk radio and tweeted en masse this week about their displeasure.
It's not so much their team's two-game losing streak and 1-2 start; the Chiefs lost to Denver and Green Bay, both clubs with 3-0 records in the young season. They are not patsies.
It's the way the Chiefs have played, in particular the production of the Kansas City offense that has raised the ire of the fans. As always, that puts the focus of unhappiness and blame on the quarterback, in this case Alex Smith.
"You can't ignore everything, you can't live in a hole; it's impossible these days," Smith said when asked if he hears the grumbling. "You hear some of it. At this point, everyone here puts enough pressure on themselves that I don't think any of that effects it."
During his 11 seasons in the NFL, Smith has experienced the ups and downs of quarterback life more than most.
It's a position that often runs like an emotion-fueled roller coaster and frequently it will eject passers from the game, and make others sick to their stomach.
Smith was bruised and battered physically and emotionally in the eight years he spent riding the coaster with the San Francisco 49ers.
If Alex Smith made a Direct TV commercial, both versions of him would have cable.— Dante' Jones (@Dantej21) September 29, 2015
His first two seasons (2013-14) in Kansas City were fairly placid, but now Smith is on one of those up-and-down rides as the Chiefs take their two-game losing streak into Cincinnati on Sunday to face the 3-0 Bengals.
"When you are young, you feel like the sky is falling on you," Smith said of dealing with the negative energy that comes the quarterback's way during losing times.
"Sometimes the natural reaction is to overreact. The focus needs to be on the little things and the details of what we are doing. Refocusing in on all those little things."
What hasn't been little is the Chiefs' commitment to Smith as their starting quarterback. They gave up two second-round draft choices in a trade with San Francisco to bring Smith to the Midwest.
Last year, they signed him to a four-year, $68 million contract extension that included $45 million in guaranteed dollars from the 2014 to the 2016 seasons.
In the last two games, Smith has been outdueled by the other side's quarterback.
Two games ago, a strong comeback from an early 14-point deficit won the game for Denver. Quarterback Peyton Manning threw three touchdown passes for the Broncos.
Kansas City's most recent game was Monday evening in Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers threw five touchdown passes and the Packers picked up a 10-point victory.
That's two games where the other quarterback threw for eight touchdowns and only one interception, and Smith had only one scoring pass and three interceptions.
Manning and Rodgers clearly outplayed Smith, and as the calendar turns from September to October, the quarterback and his offense are performing at levels far below expectations around Arrowhead Stadium.
Smith's start has been underwhelming to say the least:
--He has thrown three interceptions in three games after throwing only six picks last year in 15 games. Smith is known for being a so-called "game manager," but the interceptions turned into 14 points for the other team.
--Part of Smith's problem has been pass protection. He has been sacked 13 times, more than any quarterback in the league. He's coming off the loss in Green Bay after being sacked seven times. If that pace continues, Smith will be sacked 69 times this season.
--The Kansas City offense has the worst third-down efficiency in the league after three weeks and one of the reasons is Smith. He ranks 26th among quarterbacks on third down with a passer rating of 51.1. He has completed 12 of 21 throws with no touchdown passes and one interception. The Chiefs have converted only 5 of 30 attempts on third down.
--Smith does not rank among the top 15 quarterbacks in nine of the 10 statistical categories the league publishes each week. Smith is No. 15 in average gain per pass attempt at 7.39 yards.
"It's early; we are three games into this and the fourth ahead for us," Smith said. "When you look on the film, we all sit there and take our turns of having our mistakes, and when you do that, all the sudden it adds up.
"Before you know it, you are playing a good team and you are in a hole. We have to do a better job of consistently executing, consistently doing your job with all 11 guys doing that."