RUSSELL: Alex Smith needed to play more

Chris Russell
August 18, 2018 - 11:39 am

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports


Alex Smith made his Redskins and FedEx Field debut on Thursday night.

Smith was four for six for 48 yards and led the Redskins on an 11-play scoring drive that resulted in a field goal, one of five on the night from Dustin Hopkins.

Washington came up short in the red zone, and Smith was just a hair off on his final pass attempt of the night, a third-down incompletion to rookie Trey Quinn, who could have helped Smith out a little more on the route and catch.

Smith was drilled on his first play and throw of the night, a bootleg that ended in a completion to Paul Richardson for eight yards. He completed a third-and-nine pass over the middle to Josh Doctson for a first down, a second-and-nine pass off play-action for Vernon Davis and perfectly led Rob Kelley on a 13-yard crosser.

A successful night and debut for the Redskins new quarterback.

The only thing you were left wanting in the end? More.  

Smith got plenty of good work against the Jets in practices down in Richmond, but after not playing in New England and with the knowledge that he won't play in Baltimore to finish the preseason, it's likely that Smith will only play one more half of game action before the Sept. 9 opener in Arizona.

That's not enough!

A couple of items to consider:

1. Tom Brady did not play for the Patriots against the Redskins last week, but on Thursday night he threw 26 times in his first game action of the season. That's Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, who has won FIVE Super Bowls and been to three others. Same team, same scheme, same "Tommy," but he needed and wanted the work.

2. Last year in Kansas City for his FIFTH season in the same scheme, Smith threw 32 passes in his three games of work. He went from six to nine to 17 attempts in those contests.

The Chiefs opened 5-0, and Smith completed 80 percent, 75 percent, 76.2 percent, 73 percent and 78.4 percent of his pass attempts in those wins.

In 2016, Smith had 46 attempts in three preseason games. In 2015, he had 46 in three preseason contests while with the Chiefs. In 2014, Alex racked up 51 attempts over three preseason affairs. In his first year with Kansas City and Andy Reid, Smith had 48 attempts over three preseason starts in 2013.

The Chiefs started that year 9-0. They won four of five season openers under Smith and Reid.

3. The Redskins have lost all four season-opening games during head coach Jay Gruden's tenure. In 2017, Kirk Cousins had 44 attempts in three preseason games. In 2016, he attempted 28 passes and in 2015 he was at 53. Cousins was not officially named the starter until after the third preseason game that year.

There are certainly no guarantees either way. However, in a new system with new weapons and terminology, I would have liked to have seen Alex Smith play more on Thursday night.

Game reps and snaps are important, even if you are more at risk. Injuries can happen on the practice field as well.

Maybe it won't matter in the end. But if the Redskins lose their season opener again, and Smith struggles out of the gate, the criticisms of "Club Jay" are going to be very loud.

And I'll be first in line.

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