Redskins should have played Alex Smith

Photo credit Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins preseason opener was as useless as the traditional final throwaway exhibition.

Coach Jay Gruden once again chose to bubble wrap many starters and went with a number of those that will be cut in a few weeks. The insight that came from some key reserves and potential starters would have been seen later anyway in the 26-17 loss at New England on Thursday. Overall, this game was largely a waste of time.

Who cares if Colt McCoy fared well while starter Alex Smith rested? We already knew what McCoy can do. He's an accurate passer and a good backup. We would have seen that anyway once Smith was done playing. Instead, Smith didn't play when there could have been some game chemistry created with fellow starters. Sure, they practice together regularly, but that's not the same thing.

Maybe Gruden didn't want to risk Smith behind an offensive line that would have been missing tackles Trent Williams and Morgan Moses. The duo needs more time after offseason rehab, so their absence was understandable.

But Gruden can't fear injuries too much because they'll come anyway. Running back Derrius Guice was dinged after a few carries, which sent shivers through the Redskins Twitterverse by fans still reeling from last year's widespread injuries. At least Guice looked good before getting hurt. Defensive end Matt Ioannidis apparently escaped a serious injury. Sure, it's scary to risk players in meaningless games, but the Redskins have traditionally shown they need time together to play well.

Gruden is 0-4 in regular-season openers with an offense that averaged 12.25 points. Gruden benched his starters in the preseason finale each year, then wondered why they played poorly afterwards.

By sitting a new starting quarterback, the Redskins are once more setting themselves up for a poor start they can't afford or survive this fall.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks