Alex Smith: Why he can succeed with the Washington Redskins

New team gives Smith the chance to prove he can still be a winner.


(Photo credit: MC1 Julie R. Matyascik/U.S. Navy)

The early word is that the Washington Redskins like what they see from new quarterback Alex Smith. They shouldn’t be surprised after Smith, heading into his 13th season, led the Kansas City Chiefs to the postseason in each of the last three years.

But with Patrick Mahomes waiting in the wings, the Chiefs felt it was time to part ways with Smith, sending him to Washington for a third-round pick and up-and-coming cornerback Kendall Fuller. Kansas City saved a bunch of money in a deal some felt totally benefited the Chiefs more the Redskins. However, with a four-year deal worth more than $23 million per season, Smith is ready to prove any doubters wrong and show that at age 34 he can take Washington back to the postseason after failing to get there the last two seasons.

On top of his game

Some may feel that Smith’s recent success in Kansas City – two straight Pro Bowl nods and three in the last five – was because of the system he found himself in. Running potent offenses designed by big names (Doug Pederson) and promising minds (Matt Nagy), Smith completed at least 63.5 percent of his passes in each of the last four seasons and in 2017 set career highs in completions (341), yards (4,042) and touchdowns (26).

But experience also played a part. Smith is the perfect example of getting better with age, and right now he appears to be on top of his game while embarking on this new challenge. Sure, Smith was surrounded with more proven talent in Kansas City (Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce), but Smith’s consistently solid accuracy and the fact he has not thrown more than eight interceptions in any season since 2010 says he’s got at least some of it figured out.

The Redskins were looking for someone established to replace Kirk Cousins and they found him. An experienced arm ready to win now and someone who won’t make excuses if it doesn’t happen.

Right man for the job

Perhaps the best thing Smith has going for him in Washington is that nobody expects much from the Redskins this season. Not with the defending Super Bowl champion in the division. But that can be a good thing.

Expectations for the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants seem none higher than that of the Redskins, who at least have the most consistent quarterback of the trio. Washington’s Trent Williams and Morgan Moses might be the most unheralded tackle combo in the NFL and when healthy, Jordan Reed is among the league’s top tight ends.

A young receiving corps featuring Paul Richardson, Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson is filled with more promise than those in Dallas. Of that group, Richardson provides a speedy deep threat for Smith, who ranked fourth last season with 38 pass plays of over 25 yards. Kareem Hunt, meanwhile, proved to be somebody Smith could trust and lean on last season, and maybe rookie running back Derrius Guice will do the same in 2018. 

Smith and his teammates seem to have already built a nice rapport, and he commanded respect the moment he joined the club. This is not the same Alex Smith who struggled the first three seasons of his career with the San Francisco 49ers and was labeled a bust after being taken first overall in the 2005 draft. He’s seasoned, confident and ready for a new challenge. He’s ready to continue his role as a winner.

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Jeff Mezydlo

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Jeff is our NFL Editor, who has written and reported on the NFL for more than 20 years and spent a decade as the Chicago Bears beat reporter and columnist for two daily newspapers. His favorite all-time player is Walter Payton and he attended the famous 'Fog Bowl' Bears-Eagles playoff game as a teenager. He's also contributing to our coverage of World Cup 2018.

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