Don’t look now, but the Washington Football Team is on a two-game winning streak, and sit atop of the NFC East.
This is largely due to the team finally meshing as a unit, and the stabilizing presence of quarterback Alex Smith. While watching the dismantling of the Dallas Cowboys on national television last night, I couldn’t help but think how far the team has come this season. Name change. Scandal. Coach has cancer. Scandal. Haskins is benched. Scandal. Haskins demands trade. Two and seven record, and competing for the worst record in football.
It’s now starting to feel that the team is turning the corner, and I’d argue, its due to the fact that the team can focus on one quarterback, and one quarterback only, Alex Smith.
His numbers won’t wow you on paper — 69.03% completion percentage, 1067 passing yards, three touchdowns and five interceptions. In fact, the “box scout” will claim that he doesn’t do enough or he is somewhat of a detriment to the team. But they’re wrong. Alex Smith brings a stabilizing presence to this young team, and he knows how to win.
Alex Smith is 8-4 as the starting QB for #WashingtonFootball . Every other starting QB since he joined the team: 6-25
— Chip Brierre (@Chip_Brierre) November 27, 2020
Smith is now 96-67-1 as a starting quarterback in the NFL. He is also 2-1 as a starter for Washington in 2020.
What Smith Offers
Smith will never dominate a game with his passing. However, he will be effective, precise and make the right play at the right time. His decision-making and experience instills confidence in his coaches, and they can now explore different avenues in the playbook, an option that was not available before.
In yesterday’s game against the Cowboys, Washington sustained long drives and mostly matriculated down the field with positive plays.
Granted, most of the yardage was distributed to running backs, tight ends, and Terry Mclaurin, but Smith navigated the offense and left the game in positive game-script throughout the day. The team had 22 first downs, was 7/13 (53%) on third down, and converted their only fourth down attempt of the day.
With the team within one score, or even in the lead, Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner had more opportunity to expand his playbook, since the team was not playing from behind. And as a result, many of Smith’s teammates thrived. Tight End Logan Thomas had arguably his best game of the season as he passed, ran and caught the ball all over the Cowboys defense yesterday.
Nice design by Scott Turner here. Former QB Logan Thomas takes the ball on an end-around, then pulls up and fires down the field to Terry McLaurin. pic.twitter.com/nkdOoEOvm0
— Mark Bullock (@MarkBullockNFL) November 26, 2020
Running back Antonio Gibson also thrived, having his best game as a pro yesterday. The former Memphis Tiger had 115 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. He also had five receptions on the day.
All we're thankful for is Antonio Gibson switching hands with the ball to wave to the defender on this TDpic.twitter.com/30NVxkbMQe
— PFF (@PFF) November 27, 2020
Turner’s development as an offensive coordinator is directly related to having Smith in at quarterback. Smith has 14 years of NFL experience and has played in various systems. He can diagnose a defense, and is rarely flustered by what he sees across the field. Therefore, Turner can put more on the signal caller, because he’s done it before.
What’s funny, is that Smith also has experience in a distribution offense that relies on his backs and tight-ends. In 2014, he infamously navigated the season without a touchdown pass to a wide receiver while in Kansas City. He’s built for this, and experience is key.
Moving Forward to 2021
This may not be popular in Washington circles, but there is the very real possibility that the Football Team will return all three of its quarterbacks next season. If Smith remains healthy, he is the ultimate bridge quarterback to assist in a young passer’s growth. Why not Dwayne Haskins?
The former Buckeye has had a raw deal in the Nation’s Capital. Abandoned by Jay Gruden in 2019, and without a true offseason in 2020, Haskins has not been properly developed. But it’s not too late. The signal-caller still has two years remaining on his contract, with a team-option for a third. Let the young prospect develop under one of the true “good guys” in the league and learn how to become a pro.
By all accounts, that was the right thing to do all along. Haskins was a noted project coming out of OSU and needed time to incubate and develop. Guess what? He’s doing that now and he’s starting to “get it” as teammate.
Got your back 11, great game. Now let’s eat. Happy thanksgiving! 🍽🙏 https://t.co/hHVZUAzwjD
— Dwayne Haskins, Jr (@dh_simba7) November 27, 2020
Let’s be patient with this team, and not make grandiose plans and hit the reset button every year. It appears that Washington is starting to build a foundation with Smith as it’s quarterback and Coach Ron Rivera instilling culture.
Alex Smith is righting the ship. The offensive coordinator is starting to get it. And so is the rest of the team.