What's wrong with Alex Smith? Well, here's the sobering answer: nothing, really. He will be more comfortable in his new offense. It can be more precise and effective. Accessorize the quarterback with better weapons, and it will look more snazzier. Still, even in a season that is beginning to conform to Murphy's law, Alex Smith is basically Alex Smith at the moment.
He is halfway through a season that makes many miss Kirk Cousins and others, desperate or extreme, appeal to Colt McCoy. But in the context of his career, Smith is as ordinary as usual. Although he leads 24 passes on 32 teams in the NFL, Smith is throwing 3,734 yards, which would be his second highest total of his 13 professional seasons. He made 63.5% of his passes, which is less than his accuracy rate in the five seasons spent in Kansas City, but a bit higher than his career percentage. With only three interceptions to date, he is ready to make fewer than 10 choices for a remarkable eighth consecutive year, but he could also finish with less than 20 touchdowns for the ninth time in 13 seasons.
Consider his antecedents. Consider that so far this is one of his most successful transitions to a new coach or team. And then, consider how much it seems unimpressive in the present moment. Smith is under contract for four more seasons after this one, with a contract extension about to come into effect that will guarantee him $ 71 million. Washington did not buy a savior and he understood it at the time. He bought the most expensive base layer of NFL clothing.
Get used. Offensive beginners who have succumbed to injuries everywhere, there is a tendency to think that Smith must win for his team to repeat his 5-3 record in the second half of the season and participate in the playoffs. But there is no progress in Smith, not as some people think. He'll just try to stay steady and handle the game. He can help the offense control a match by making good decisions and protecting football, but it's not enough that Smith wins the games. If Washington has talent in the playoffs, he can take it into account. If Washington is a one-dimensional team that can not maintain its initial success, Smith will not be able to stop the fall.
Cousins would probably not have accepted this offer. It should be obvious now how much smuggler Cousins is much more dynamic, but Washington was willing to sacrifice that for more certainty and for a quarter who wanted to take some reasonable money to be here. Smith's $ 94 million average extension to $ 23.5 million per season if he can get all the unsecured portions of the deal. This ranks ninth among the NFL quarters. Smith is not a great player, but he does not realize the $ 84 million guaranteed to the Cousins of Minnesota. He is not a quarterback on which you build; instead, you build on him. Washington thinks it can do it over time.
But for the moment, it looks ugly. The broad receiving body lacks talent and now the group is injured. The semi-offensive position is radically different from that expected and the team is now heavily dependent on Adrian Peterson, 33 years old. And, oh, the offensive line is in ruins because of an injury. When the offense was healthier, Smith did not prosper. Now he is fighting to survive.
Coach Jay Gruden insists that Smith has improved, but he has not reached 200 yards in three of the last four games. And although he had 306 yards on Sunday against Atlanta, the performance was mediocre and these statistics were inflated because the team played from behind for most of the game.
"Oh yes, I mean, he's probably getting closer, and no one will be perfect at that position," Smith's Gruden said. "But he's learning. … I think that from a systemic point of view, he feels more comfortable with the games and the concepts we are going through, and getting the ball out of his hands and getting confused when he has to scramble. Last week, he had a lot of trouble playing. So I think it's heading where we want it. "
Smith is the ultimate test of the team's strong sense of team cohesion. It seems that reception has progressively improved in this area during Gruden's five seasons. It seems that the team finally has an impressive defensive front and that, when it is healthy, the offensive line is solid. But as I continue to get upset, the attention given to this weakness has come at the expense of retaining playmakers or seeking new ones. It has gone from a team of offensive toys to a more demanding and physical team that now has to find new toys.
The good news is that the franchise is established, in terms of list, to focus on improving the offense. But here's the problem: he could lose a chance in the playoffs while waiting. And if this team does not play in the playoffs, there are many more issues to consider, including the future of Gruden and Bruce Allen, the team's president.
Yes, team building is a fluid thing. There is always a hole somewhere. Each team must defer the treatment of certain issues. But Washington is not in the first year of a reconstruction. We had ample time to have both an improved defense and a stable offensive. The imbalance is the result of mismanagement and bad luck.
And here is Smith now, the new face of the situation. He's just playing his game, really. You may not like what you have seen so far, but again, it is simply supposed to be a base layer. Where is the rest of this offense? It will be fine if Washington corrects the situation. But now you have to understand why, despite all the victories won by his teams, San Francisco and Kansas City have both followed suit.
Washington traded for Smith and extended it after a career year. But as Patrick Mahomes has shown in Kansas City this season, a quarterback can do even more with all the offensive talents of the Chiefs. Smith helped his former team become an offensive juggernaut. The difference, however, is that Mahomes can accent any Kansas City strength.
With his new team, Smith gets closer to better.
"I really think looking at the start of the season, where we are, just what we experienced in the situation, I think we grew up a ton in a good way," he said. . "But as I said, week after week, the ups and downs are so important. I think you're doing your best not to ride that roller coaster, so to speak, try not to do it. Try to keep up-to-date, run your business every day, and keep working towards that ultimate goal, focusing of course on earnings every week. "
It's the best thing about Smith. He will not give up. He will be better. It will not turn out very well, though. But if Washington builds properly, there's a chance he can handle a big team.
The Redskins are at the clock to accessorize its stability and show why a reliable and basic quarterback was worth the expense.