Smith Spotlight: Alex Smith's Redskins debut

Chris Russell
September 12, 2018 - 7:22 pm
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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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After throwing 14 passes in less than one half of football with his new team in the preseason, new Redskins Quarterback Alex Smith looked sharp and in control in his regular-season debut.

Sunday's 24-6 win in a hostile environment against a fast, physical Arizona defense was a pleasant surprise.

"He did a great job, both on schedule and off schedule," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden told reporters on Monday. "I think there's a lot to build on there."

Smith did what he does and something his new team and head coach had not been able to do. He won a season opener. He's won five of his last six and is 4-0 on the road in Week 1 since the start of his time with the Chiefs.

Smith was brought to Washington to not only replace Kirk Cousins but to also manage, lead and accentuate an offense that wasn't good enough.

He was paid handsomely to run an efficient offense and extend plays that Cousins couldn't. That came to fruition in the desert.

A few examples: On the Redskins' third play from scrimmage, Smith escaped heavy pressure to avoid a sack, before throwing an incomplete pass.

The Redskins' first touchdown of 2018 came on a beautiful route by Chris Thompson, who burned Deone Bucannon in space. Smith gently slid to his left to find a clear passing window for the score.

On the Redskins' second touchdown drive, Smith had a boot-keeper that resulted in a five-yard gain on first down, and then backed up Gruden’s gutsy call on fourth-and-1 at midfield by converting on a quarterback sneak up the middle. 

In a 7-0 game, with that field position and Washington's awful struggles in short yardage during the Gruden era, that decision and conversion were enormous.

On the very next play, Smith spun out of danger and squared his shoulders to perfectly lead Jordan Reed on a 22-yard gain. Later in the drive, Smith ran what appeared to be a designed take-off draw, picking up seven yards and another first down.

Smith wasn't just extending plays, he was making them.

On that same scoring drive, Smith was in the process of completing 13 consecutive pass attempts. That streak ended with a  Reed score at the end of the first half. Reed scooped a low dart from Smith and his great effort essentially ended the Cardinals' day. It wasn't a beautiful throw, but only Reed could catch it. Otherwise it would have fallen incomplete and set up a field goal. An important note, because the game clock was under 10 seconds.

In the second-half, Smith didn't have to do much and he wasn't as sharp as you would like, but the highlight throw was a third-and-12 completion to Jamison Crowder for a 17-yard gain which helped set up a field goal.

Smith finished 21-for-30 with 255 yards, two touchdowns and a 118.1 passer rating, along with 14 rushing yards and no turnovers.

He wasn't perfect, but it was exactly what the Redskins needed. A win and a new leader.

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