Redskins talk up Smith's health while shopping for QBs

Brian Tinsman
February 17, 2019 - 11:38 pm
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Either the Washington Redskins know something good about Alex Smith that they aren't sharing, or they're choosing a strange way to market the team in 2019.

Regardless, it's hard to take them at their word.

The whole world watched Smith get crushed under a Houston Texans defender on the field. They saw it again in slow motion, as his leg buckled and the TV announcers apologized for the graphic nature of the injury.

The whole world has heard about his surgeries and extreme measures to stabilize the bones and fight infection in the leg. They remember that a similar injury ended Joe Theismann's career.

And yet the Redskins are not just expressing faith in Smith's ability to return to the football field--they're repeatedly mentioning this season. In an interview on the NFL Network, Doug Williams became the latest member of the front office to plant the seed that Smith might play in 2019:

"(We are) also waiting to see what really happens with Alex Smith," Williams said at the Black College Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony. "I mean, I know a lot of people's counting him out, but you're talking about a guy that's been working all his life and you never know what's gonna happen."

This mirrors comments from his boss, Bruce Allen, who has mentioned it in multiple interviews since the end of the season.

January 22: "He's moving around and well on his way to recovery. We'll see how it goes. We're optimistic. If anyone can come back, it's Alex."

January 31: "We're approaching this the same way Alex approaches a game, a game plan or an offseason, that's one day at a time. He's following the doctor's orders, he's got to follow the doctor's orders."

February 1: "He really is a day-to-day guy."

February 13: "Alex is getting better every day and we're gonna keep our fingers crossed on how he's doing."

Taken at face value, these comments imply that Smith is nearing some sort of return. This increases expectations from fans on the player as well as the team's medical staff to clear his return.

It also flies in the face of reality.

Smith has been seen by the public three times since being carted off the field and driven immediately to the hospital last November.

He made his first appearance on Instagram, as his wife showed him sitting under a blanket at home, finally released from the hospital after weeks of care. He was next seen at a Washington Wizards game with a cage apparatus around his leg and using crutches to get around. Most recently, he appeared at a charitable event with crutches.

More importantly, NFL insider Ian Rapoport has reported that the Redskins are expecting Smith to miss the season (a report that Allen vehemently disputed):

Running back Chris Thompson also clearly isn't in on the company line, telling NBC Sports Washington this week: "We know and understand that it's probably not going to happen that we have him this year. He's a hard-working guy. He's gonna do whatever he can to get back, if he decides that he wants to put that workload on his leg again."

That's a long way from "day-to-day."

Let's not forget that the Redskins were reportedly in on Joe Flacco, which helped consummate his trade to the Denver Broncos. Las Vegas sportsbooks also believe that the Redskins are a likely destination for Nick Foles, and the team has been linked to Heisman Trophy-winner Kyler Murray in the upcoming NFL Draft. 

That's a lot of connections for a team with confidence in its starting quarterback situation.

So once again, rather than taking the team's comments at face value, fans are left to wonder what to believe.

Do Allen and Williams know something that NFL insiders, renowned physicians, Redskins teammates, and perhaps even Smith himself don't know? Or are they bluffing on a topic that will eventually make the team and player look bad for not being ready?

Even if the front office is bluffing under the umbrella excuse of "competitive advantage" going into free agency, it's hard to imagine that anyone might fall for it. Every team has access to the same information on Smith, and none of it points to him being ready any time soon.

At some point before the Redskins trade for, sign or draft their quarterback of the present (and perhaps future), it would be refreshing for them to admit that they might be looking.

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