Since Alex Smith became the Washington Football Team’s starting quarterback three weeks ago, the offense has stabilized.
Smith has thrown for 705 yards and led Washington to two wins. But how good has the veteran quarterback played this season?
Former Washington general manager Charley Casserly told The Sports Junkies Monday morning there was a lot of good from Smith.
“And what it is, he knows where to go with the ball, he has a great sense of finding who’s open, and he gets it out quick,” he said. “Primarily he’s getting it out to the [running] backs, and that’s who their playmakers are [Terry] McLaurin and the backs.”
Of course, the most important question remains: What does that mean for Washington going forward? Is Smith the franchise’s long-term solution for the position?
"Well, would I feel comfortable with him today I would, who knows where I would feel at the end of the year if he gets another injury? I don't think you can sit there and say, 'We're totally comfortable,'" Casserly said about moving forward with Smith for next season.
"The long-term answer is not here, and it's fool's gold. I don't think they're buying it, what's happening right now, long term,” Casserly said.
And the former NFL executive added that doesn’t change even if Washington is able to make the playoffs by winning the NFC East.
"If they make the playoffs, that's great," he said. "You taught the guys how to win, you have a lot of young players that are playing well right now, that's good. So, it's important for them to learn how to win and win close games. But you still need to solve the quarterback long-term."
After Smith made his first start against the Detroit Lions 728 days after suffering a gruesome leg injury, head coach Ron Rivera said Smith could “possibly” be seen as the franchise quarterback.
“You gotta look at how much longer do you think he can play, how much longer does he want to play, and if so, is he part of your plan?” Rivera said. "That's something we as a coaching staff and as an organization have to talk about most certainly if this continues if he continues to play at this high level.”
Smith, who turns 37 before the start of the 2021 season, is under contract for two more seasons in Washington, but the team can cut him and take a $10.8 million cap hit at the end of this year.
If they decide to keep the veteran quarterback he would carry a $24.4 million cap hit for next season and a $26.4 million hit for the 2022 season. (Releasing Smith after the 2021 season would result in a $5.4 million cap hit.)
What does all of that mean for the No. 15 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, quarterback Dwayne Haskins?
"I can't say they've lost confidence in Haskins, but I think that we all think that that's kind of where it is right now, but that can always change,” Casserly told The Junkies.
“Haskins played well at the end of last year in the system that evolved for him,” he said. “He was inconsistent in the system he’s here [in now]. We’ll have to see what happens with him. You’re not gonna get a lot for him in a trade, I don’t believe. So, I wouldn’t get rid of the guy, I’d keep working with him.”
Rivera had praise for Haskins’ off-field development and still thinks the second-year player has the ability to be an NFL quarterback.
“Dwayne has really grown, I really do think, in the last month in terms of the things we talked about wanting to see him understand and get and build on,” Rivera told the media last Friday.
"The young man is a talent, he's got an arm. An NFL talent and he’s learning the rest of it,” Rivera said. “As I've said before he hasn’t played a lot of football. We do want to create opportunities for him to play football.”
“Right now he’s practicing, he’s practicing well, he’s meeting, he’s understanding what it takes in the meeting rooms, or at least I believe he is right now,” Rivera said. “I like what he’s doing out there on the football field.”