After 12 Years in the NFL, Mister Smith Comes to Washington in His Prime

By Evan Redmon, July 25, 2018

Former first overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft is looking to prove his doubters wrong and shed his Captain Checkdown image

They never say “The Brandon Scherff era” when a guard joins the team or the “Zach Brown era” when the mike linebacker gets re-signed – it’s always the quarterback and the coach who receives the era label – so yes, the Alex Smith Redskins era is upon us.

And on the dawn of the 2018 Training Camp, Redskins Nation is almost as divided as the MSNBC/Fox News crowds.

Some call it a lateral move. Others think Kirk Cousins is the better quarterback. Many think Smith’s experience and athleticism give him the edge.

The Redskins have largely stayed away from splashy moves during the off-seasons of late. Yes, DeSean Jackson and Josh Norman might be considered as pretty fancy signings, but both were unplanned, and were executed only when the players suddenly and unexpectedly became available.

The Alex Smith trade, however, is a different deal altogether. It was out of pure necessity, targeted long before the trade was made.

Read⇒ Redskins Training Camp Primer

The Alex Smith Era in Kansas City ended with a career year. Redskins hope this is the start of a beautiful friendship.

The Alex Smith Redskins era might be a lot like his last season in Kansas City. With Patrick Mahomes breathing down his neck, Smith unleashed the deep ball to rack up over 4,ooo yards in his best season ever. Some claim this was an aberration in an otherwise conservative career. In truth, the Alex Smith–Jay Gruden pairing will prove to be a match made in heaven, and Smith’s best football is yet to come.

Jay Gruden’s offense isn’t for everybody, but Cousins sure seemed to like it, so why not Alex Smith?

It’s perfectly normal that many assume Alex Smith will regress to the mean, statistically.

alex-smith-era-kirk-cousins-pass-each-otherUsually, that’s what happens. Something goes along steadily for a dozen years, then all of a sudden, there’s a big spike. Not long after comes the market correction back to the previous patterns.

Sometimes, however, that spike is the start of an extend period of increased activity. It makes perfect sense that Alex Smith is in the second category.

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This is why RGIII is no longer with the Redskins

Robert Griffin III, and in particular, his many supporters – who are still sleepwalking through reality three years after Griffin’s departure – blame Jay Gruden for the savior’s demise.

In a way, they’re not wrong.

Say what you will about Jay Gruden; he does have his faults. His clock management could be better. His teams could be better prepared to start the season (every season so far). Redskins fans find his lack of timeout-calling proficiency to be disturbing indeed.

But the man can dial up an offense.

Which is why Gruden had to be looking at film of RGIII running his offense in 2014 and thinking to himself:

“Everybody is into labels these days: Is he elite? Is he a franchise quarterback? Is he a game manager?” If you think about it, all the top quarterbacks are game managers. I just think he’s a very unselfish player.” – Former NFL QB Rich Gannon

Jay Gruden could make plenty of mediocre quarterbacks in the NFL look good

Sorry all you RGIII fan boys, but the truth is the truth and ball don’t lie. Griffin was handed a quarterback’s dream of an offense, and he couldn’t run it worth a lick.

You know this is true because Gruden was under all kinds of pressure from the higher-ups at Redskins Park to play RGIII. Everyone wanted him to succeed.

He just didn’t. Couldn’t. Enter Kirk Cousins.

Now Cousins is a fine quarterback. He’s good; he’s nice; but he’s not great.

And yet, he took hold of Gruden’s scheme and started throwing for 4,000 yards right out of the gate. Andy Dalton became a Pro Bowler under Gruden in Cincinnati.

So what do you think Alex Smith can do with this offense?

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Alex Smith Redskins era will be a good one

Alex Smith has more experience than Cousins, has been to the playoffs far more often, has better athleticism, better out-of-the-pocket throwing skills, and a perfectly good NFL arm that can make all the throws.

alex-smith-redskins-holding-football-transparency-red-jerseyMoreover, he’s coming off his best season, where he has seen proof firsthand about how his aggressive, downfield throws can bring him success.

And now he’s taking over an offense that is designed to be aggressive. His coach wants him to be aggressive. He has plenty of weapons at his disposal, regardless of whether Jordan Reed is healthy or not.

But for some reason, people think he’s going to regress back to his 2007 campaign, when he was more than 2-yards-per-catch lower than last year.

Not. Bloody. Likely.

The obvious fact is this: Alex Smith is a late bloomer. He had improved steadily throughout his career. Now, like many professionals in all sorts of industries, he’s putting it altogether in his mid-30’s.

The good news for Redskins fans is that he can still run, too. This video is from last year:

The guy still has it.

It seems clear as Bahamas water that the Alex Smith Redskins era will be a highly successful 3-to-4 year run. Smith entered into his prime last year, and these time frames are usually – at least – three years long.

If anyone should see why Alex Smith won’t put up similar numbers to Cousins, speak now or forever hold your peace.