clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Alex Smith Has the Talent - But Does he Have the Necessary Support to Succeed in D.C.?

NFL: Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s get some things straight. Alex Smith is just not some run-of-the-mill quarterback. The man accumulated a 50-26 record (including four playoff births), over the past five seasons in Kansas City, averaging over 3,500 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, 6 interceptions and 65 percent completion percentage per season. He also chipped in, on average, 335 rushing yards and two additional touchdowns on the ground during that same five year period.

His career in Washington has not gotten off to the greatest start, as he has just four touchdown passes and two interceptions over the team’s first four games, and has posted a 2-2 record, with two VERY ugly performances to his credit.

Part of the reason for the sluggish start can be explained by being in his first season in Jay Gruden’s offense. As smart as Smith is (scored a 40 on the Wonderlic), it takes time to become fully integrated into a new offense, and even more time to get on the same page as your new teammates.

So far this season, Alex has not had the luxury of having all his offensive weapons at his disposal.

On the offensive line, starting left guard Shawn Lauvao has missed two of the teams four games with an calf injury. Trent Williams is not 100 percent from off-season knee surgery, and a recent “clean up” procedure has complicated matters even worse.

The Redskins had prepared to enter the season with Derrius Guice as the team’s starting running back, but a knee injury in the preseason put those plans to a screeching halt. The team did its best to fill that void by signing free agent Adrian Peterson off the street, and although AP has done a very nice job, he’s not as much of a threat as a healthy 21 year old Guice would have been.

Third down specialist Chris Thompson has played in the first four games, but he may not be 100 percent recovered from off-season surgery to repair a fracture to his lower leg. He remains a very valuable weapon none-the-less.

The biggest area of concern for the team is at wide receiver.

Former first round pick Josh Doctson has been a major disappointment so far in his third professional season. He has just five receptions, for 48 yards in three games, having missed one due to injury. Free agent deep threat Paul Richardson has mustered 13 receptions for 181 yards and a touchdown, but a lingering shoulder injury has limited his production. Jamison Crowder, the team’s leading receiver last season, is off off to a slow start, catching just 13 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown.

Surprisingly, the team’s top receiving threat, Jordan Reed, has played in all four of the team’s games this season, and leads the receivers/tight ends with 15 receptions for 189 yards and a touchdown. He seems healthy, but with Reed, you just never know.

Running back Chris Thompson leads all Redskins in receptions and yards with 26 and 200 respectively, although he’s been the main target of the dink-and-dunk offense we’ve seen from Smith to this point. Thompson has averaged 7.7 yards per reception on his 26 catches, showing the teams inability to press the ball down field.

So who’s problem is it?

Many fans are very quick to point the finger at Alex Smith, as there have been, at times, open receivers who he’s flat out missed. He seems to be content to come off his early reads very quickly and settle for the check-down way too often. He looks hesitant to take shots deep down the field, which may be him just not yet comfortable with the playbook and his supporting cast on the outside.

Others point to the wide receivers inability to get open, and make big plays if they are. Josh Doctson has taken the brunt of this criticism for his inability to get off press-man coverage, and the drops he’s had early on. Crowder has shown similar struggles finding open holes in the underneath coverage, although his may be more of a result of not being on the same page as Alex, than poor routes and drops.

Injuries to rookies Trey Quinn and Cam Sims have forced the Redskins to look to veterans like Brian Quick, who was initially cut by the Redskins before the start of the season, and veteran journeyman Michael Floyd, who the team signed as a street free agent a few weeks ago.

Regardless of the intent, the results have not been good so far.

We all know this team does not have a Julio Jones or Antonio Brown type receiver, but we should be able to muster a little bit of productivity from the position...right?

Many fans are blaming Jay Gruden for the team’s offensive woes, but is this criticism fair? Gruden is known as a very good offensive mind, who can create schemes to get guys open. During his time in Washington, with Kirk Cousins under center as his full-time starter, Gruden saw his quarterback throw for over 4000 yards and at least 25 touchdowns per season. Cousins’ average completion percentage over the last three years was 67 percent.

It’s hard to believe that his offense just became ineffective overnight.

Still, we need to question Jay’s ability to prepare his team for games, and the weekly plan he and the staff are putting into place.


Who’s to blame for the Redskins offensive woes so far this season?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Jay Gruden
    (193 votes)
  • 15%
    Alex Smith
    (76 votes)
  • 26%
    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
    (132 votes)
  • 0%
    Running Backs/Running Game
    (4 votes)
  • 18%
    Offensive Line
    (94 votes)
499 votes total Vote Now