What Alex Smith isn’t, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning – definitely not. Not Andrew Luck, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers or a top-five quarterback.

Don’t expect Smith to have 30-plus touchdowns.

Currently, 20 QBs have more passing touchdowns than Smith, who has nine, 22nd in the league. His 1,919 passing yards are 1,000 less than Manning’s 2,919. Manning has passed for 29 touchdowns.

“I think it’s a tribute to him,” Andy Reid told Pro Football Talk on NBC Sports. “I don’t know one great quarterback that hasn’t been a great game manager. So, I think it’s a heck of a compliment, and he does that. He’s taken the youngest offensive line in the National Football League and helped them become better. One great thing about great quarterbacks is they make everyone around them a little better than what they are, and he’s able to do that, including the head coach.”

Great or elite quarterbacks do make players around them better. Peyton Manning did exactly that for Broncos Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas. Decker went from 44 catches and 612 yards in 2011 without Manning to 85 receptions, 1,064 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. The same for Thomas, who had a huge spike from 32 receptions and 551 yards in 2011 to 94 receptions, 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns last year.

Tom Brady elevated Wes Welker, who had 67 catches his final season with the Miami Dolphins to 112 receptions his first season with the New England Patriots.

Great QBs hoist players around them, but the Chiefs’ Dwayne Bowe is headed for one of his lowest outputs of his career. Bowe’s 67 yards receiving against the Buffalo Bills has been his season high.

Is Smith improving Bowe, Anthony Fasano or Donnie Avery? No, not like a Manning or Brady – that hasn’t been Smith. What Smith has changed is “things” around him, like turning the ball over just four times in the Chiefs 9-0 start.

Alex Smith has been “smart” and “mistake free.”

Smith has been sacked 26 times, sixth-most in the league, but hasn’t coughed it up, which is an impressive stat. By nine games last season the Chiefs had thrown 14 interceptions and lost 15 fumbles. The Chiefs have only given it away eight times this year.

Smith’s careful play has been an upgrade to the defense which hasn’t had to fight both the opponent and multiple blunders by the offense. Bob Sutton’s defense has been stellar with 23 takeaways and a +15 differential, both leading the NFL.

The Chiefs' plus-104 point differential is second-best in the NFL, which has a lot to do with Smith.

The Chiefs have been missing the great leader on offense – that’s Alex Smith. You see it in his willingness to grind it out with the legs and take the chances with his body to move the chains. Not all quarterbacks do that. It takes guts to run the way Smith has, and his teammates see that, which makes them want to player harder. Smith is fifth among QBs with 265 yards rushing.

In continually wanting to be better, Smith leads by example. The first into the Kansas City training facility, he’s the last to go too, sometimes being told he has to go.

Smith doesn’t lead the league in obvious quarterback stats, numbers folks like on their fantasy football teams, but Smith isn’t bad either. What he does do well, his team sees and responds to.

Not bad after what Kansas City’s experienced. It’s great for Chiefs fans.

Yeah, the offense is behind, but it makes sense, they haven’t been together like the defense. Getting a new QB with a new offensive game plan plus another offensive coordinator calling the shots takes adjustment time.

It’s not been a season yet and the Chiefs are 9-0, an amazing U-turn with the offense still in learning mode.

Smith’s best season was 2011. He threw for 3,144 yards, 17 touchdowns, and just 5 INTs. Smith had a 90.7 QB rating on the year. The San Francisco 49ers finished 13-3.

Smith wasn’t top five in 2011, but he was good enough. By limiting mistakes and not turning the ball over, Smith and the 49ers came one game shy of a Super Bowl, losing 20-17 to the New York Giants.

What kept San Francisco from the Super Bowl wasn’t Smith, but someone else’s slip. It’s always been about having the team around Smith. Kansas City is doing that.

Hey, Smith doesn’t need to be Manning. Just keep doing what he’s being told and making that process better.

The defense can take care of the rest.

Good day, Chiefs fans!

Stephen Brown is a regular contributor to the Chiefs fan website, chiefconcerns.com. To reach Brown, send email to chiefconcerns@gmail.com. See his "Chief Concerns" blog at www.examiner.net/community/blogs