Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, April 24, two days before the 2018 NFL draft.
Smith will need support for the Redskins to be successful early
There are high expectations for new Redskins quarterback Alex Smith. He needs to replace Kirk Cousins, who was one of the league’s most productive passers over the past three years. Smith, of course, has been a solid performer himself. Since 2015, the first year that both were starters, Cousins has passed for more yards but primarily because he attempted 225 more passes. Their adjusted yards per attempt and passer ratings over that time are nearly identical.
Smith will be expected to be at peak production right out of the box. With 151 starts in 12 NFL seasons, he knows what is expected of him as the leader of the offense.
However, he may have another issue, one we’ve seen from him before. He was traded from the 49ers to the Chiefs following the 2012 season. Smith got off to a rocky start in Andy Reid’s offense. In the first seven games, Smith threw seven touchdowns and four interceptions, posting 6.1 adjusted yards per attempt and a passer rating of 79.2.
After that, he got rolling. In the final nine games, he threw 16 TD’s and three interceptions and improved his adjusted yard per attempt to 7.5 and his passer rating to 98.7.
Will it take him that long to pick up the Redskins offense?
It needs to be noted that the Chiefs went 7-0 during the Smith’s bad start. They were able to support him with a running game that went over 100 yards every week (121 per game average) and a defense that didn’t allow over 17 points in any game and let up single-digit point totals in three of them.
Looking at the history of the last three years, the Redskins would have more trouble winning if their quarterback was struggling as much as Smith was in his early Chiefs days. In fact, during Cousins’ three years as the starter, the Redskins went 2-17 in games where he posted a passer rating of 90 or lower.
In his five seasons with the Chiefs, the team went 17-17 when Smith posted a passer rating of lower than 90. While that may say something about the relative abilities of the two quarterbacks to scuffle to a win when things aren’t going as well as planned, it says much more about the teams surrounding Smith and Cousins.
Unless the Redskins’ defense and running game improve significantly—and that’s certainly possible—they won’t be able to prosper in wins column if Smith needs an extended adjustment period to get comfortable in Jay Gruden’s offense.
He has a chance of doing so, based on the 2017 performances of the pass defenses he and the Redskins face in the first half of the season. In terms of pass defense DVOA, the Redskins face only one that ranked in the top 10, the No. 5 Saints. Also above average were the Panthers (10th) and the Cardinals (11th). Five of the opponents were in the lower half including the Cowboys (18th), Falcons (19th), Giants (20th), Packers (26th), and Colts (32nd).
Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.
Tandler on Twitter
Sent out as the Caps were holding on to a fourth-quarter lead over Columbus.
Today’s schedule: Pre-draft press conference with Doug Williams at Redskins Park, noon.
—Rookie minicamp (5/11) 17
—OTAs start (5/22) 28
—Training camp starts (7/26) 93
The Redskins last played a game 114 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 138 days.
In case you missed it