The Chargers finished 1-7 against the Chiefs with Smith under center and have lost the last eight straight games to Kansas City -- backup Chase Daniel also led the Chiefs to a win at the end of the 2014 season.
A San Diego native, Smith played some of his best football as a pro against the team he rooted for growing up. Smith completed 72 percent of his passes, finishing with 13 touchdowns and just four interceptions against the Chargers as Kansas City’s signal caller since 2013.
He served as a dual threat because of his ability as a runner, totaling 163 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns against the Chargers.
Smith finished with a 50-26 record in the regular season for the Chiefs, leading them to two AFC West titles and four playoff appearances. However, the Chiefs won just one postseason game with Smith at the helm -- one of the reasons the organization decided to move on from the Utah product.
Now that Smith is gone, the Chiefs likely will turn to last year’s first-round selection Patrick Mahomes.
The Texas Tech product is a more dynamic quarterback than Smith, with a rocket arm and elite movement skills that should help him create explosive plays down the field.
But while Mahomes is more talented athletically, his inexperience in the league and within head coach Andy Reid’s offensive system makes the move risky for the Chiefs.
Mahomes made his first career start in the Chiefs’ final regular-season game of the year against the Denver Broncos in 2017. He completed 22 of 35 passes (62.9 percent) for 284 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception. Mahomes was sacked twice, posting a 76.4 passer rating.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how Patrick comes in and steps up as a leader,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce told ESPN’s Mike Golic and Trey Wingo. “That’s the biggest -- I don’t want to say question -- but thing I’m looking forward to, is to see how he takes grasp of the team.”
The Chargers got an up-close look at Mahomes during a private, pre-draft workout at Texas Tech, head coach Anthony Lynn’s alma mater. Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and quarterbacks coach Shane Steichen also were in attendance.
Mahomes was responsible for more touchdowns (53) than any other FBS quarterback in 2016. He totaled 5,052 passing yards, 41 touchdown passes and 12 touchdown runs his final season at Texas Tech.
While Mahomes is an elite talent, he will face a challenge in a Chargers defense led by two productive edge rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, along with an experienced secondary anchored by Casey Hayward, Jason Verrett and Jahleel Addae.
The Chargers have done well against young signal callers in years past, so it will be interesting to see what defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has in store for Mahomes once the regular season rolls around.
With the Chiefs, the Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos all going through some changes on their coaching staffs and at the most important position on the team in the quarterback this offseason, the Chargers will have the most continuity heading into 2018.
That stability will have the Bolts as one of the favorites to win the AFC West. However, the Chargers have to figure out a way to beat Mahomes and the Chiefs.