Alex Smith 'could be in the MVP conversation'

Chris Lingebach
July 27, 2018 - 1:22 pm

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

As training camp moves into full swing in Richmond, all eyes are on Redskins quarterback Alex Smith, the closely guarded backup plan when Kirk Cousins inevitably departed for Minnesota in free agency.

Smith, 34, has a proven track record, and even passes team president Bruce Allen's all-encompassing, albeit misguided, barometer for quarterback success: win-loss record (88-62-1).

Six months after the Redskins flipped cornerback Kendall Fuller for Smith in the cover of night, the dust has cleared from a three-year contract tango with Cousins, freeing fans to focus in on the future. While no one knows what the future holds, everyone in Skins Camp is optimistic about what Smith can bring to the offense: stability, confidence... leadership.

"Alex has always been the best quarterback in the NFL, in my humble opinion," said tight end Vernon Davis, of being reunited with his former San Francisco teammate.

When Ryan Wilson, a longtime NFL writer for CBS Sports, peers into his crystal ball, he sees not only Smith having a better season than Cousins, but, potentially, the Redskins passer throwing himself into the MVP conversation.

"I said that Alex Smith – this is going to sound insane, but I'll tell you because you'll believe me – he could be in the MVP conversation," Wilson told Chad Dukes on 106.7 The Fan. "I feel lke this is a perfect fit for him in Washington. Jordan Reed's obviously a big part of that. But I feel like he's going to have a great season. I feel like he's going to have a better season than Kirk Cousins will in Minnesota, and maybe it will provide some sort of explanation for why Jay Gruden was such a downer on Cousins, but I feel like Alex Smith's going to have a big year."

Smith projects the confidence that can only be gained from 13 NFL seasons, a former first-overall pick who failed before he flourished.

"The longer you play the longer you realize there's always going to be naysayers," Smith said as camp opened on Thursday. "I think you have a better understanding and grasp of what reality is the older you get."

"I still feel like my best football is ahead of me," he added.

To that end, an MVP campaign, as daring as it is to project, would be the next logical progression.

"Cousins is in a new offense. He's playing with new players," Wilson explained. "I mean, you could make the same case about Alex Smith, but Alex Smith has been more consistent, and when Alex Smith came from San Francisco to Kansas City, that was a seamless transition. And you could credit Andy Reid for some of that, but I feel like he's a much more established quarterback, he's much more consistent from one play to the next, and the knock on him for the longest time was that he was Captain Checkdown, but if you look at the numbers, he's been a very consistent deep-ball thrower."

FARRAR: Guice The Steal Of 2018 Draft

"I just feel like he's going to fit in with what Jay Gruden's doing in Washington," Wilson continued. "Much in the same way that Andy Dalton had so much success with Jay Gruden. And not to take anything from Cousins. I think Cousins is a good quarterback, but he does have his lows when he has his highs. I feel like with Alex Smith, you're getting steady-as-she-goes, and that's important over the course of an NFL game and obviously over the course of the season. And I think he's underrated, even as a 34-year-old.

"So, I think he's going to come in and do some pretty big things. Whether that translates to the playoffs, I don't know, but I feel like we could be talking about him in late November as an MVP candidate, as I sit here in late July."

Follow @ChrisLingebach and @1067TheFan on Twitter