Alex Smith, the Washington Redskins new starting quarterback, is no stranger to mid-career transitions. Now embarking on his third, he has to have mastered the routine.
Alex Smith‘s first transition came when he was drafted No. 1 overall by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2005 NFL Draft. Since then, Smith has learned a great amount of knowledge. Now, entering his thirteenth season, Smith is playing his best ball yet, and he’s also in his most refined mindset.
The Washington Redskins, with a young, ascending roster, knew they needed a veteran to carry on the torch following the departure of Kirk Cousins, after a long-drawn out contract standoff which bore no fruit, and only controversy.
The Washington Redskins entered the quarterback market with two key factors on their mind: Stability, and security. It made sense that Alex Smith was the best match for the team, and now, early in the team’s offseason workouts, it’s clear that the team’s evaluation was accurate.
Smith has wasted no time getting acclimated with his new weapons and his new coaching scheme. The veteran, at this stage of his NFL career, knows the value of starting early, and working hard toward a common goal. He’s taking advantage of the offseason, taking shots downfield while he can do so with little consequence. Smith spoke on the subject, per ESPN’s John Keim.
"Certainly this time of year, I think there’s something to be said about pushing it a little bit. When we get to camp and real ball, you can kind of rein that in a little. I think this time of year, there’s something to be said about taking some chances down the field and taking some opportunities."
With Paul Richardson in tow as the team’s deep threat, designed to take the top off of the defense, it’s important that Smith builds that rapport, not just with Richardson, but with the entire offense. Reports are promising in that area as well; Chris Cooley of ESPN 980, a source close to the team, stated that “[Alex Smith] is already clicking [with his new team], in terms of the players being comfortable with him, and the players loving him. He’s becoming the leader of the team, immediately.”
In a league ridden with parity, where one inch can be the difference for any team, this kind of immediacy is a welcome sight. It’s easy to be excited about the potential Alex Smith holds in Jay Gruden’s offense. Smith seems to be a perfect match, for both his personnel and his coaches. And as for getting on-field chemistry and timing down to a tee, Smith knows better than anyone, this is the time of year to make mistakes and make the hard things easier.
Smith brings a veteran’s mindset, and for a team gearing up to compete, that might just be the final ingredient. Smith has one goal in mind, the same goal as his team: The Super Bowl. And he knows better than anyone, he’ll need to take plenty of chances to get back to that game.