This offseason plenty of pundits panned Washington for their lack of aggression in free agency. The team swung and missed on signing Amari Cooper, but beyond that, largely the Burgundy and Gold remained quiet.
Well, it ends up some of the quiet moves paid off.
Logan Thomas and J.D. McKissic far exceeded their contract value. Almost as important, the team recognized a misstep in Sean Davis and cut him after training camp.
Ron Rivera, Scott Turner and tight ends coach Pete Hoener deserve plenty of credit for the development of those players, but so does Kyle Smith and the front office.
Couple that with strong work in the draft the past few seasons and Smith's profile is rising across the NFL.
"I think he’s done a nice job for us," Rivera said last week of Smith.
In consecutive drafts, Smith's team has absolutely nailed their third-round pick - Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson respectively. The team has drafted other late-round pieces in Cole Holcomb, Kam Curl, Tim Settle and Chase Roullier since Smith has been running college scouting.
Chase Young was an obvious selection and, while reports show Smith was overruled by ownership on the 2019 selection of Dwayne Haskins, it was Smith that steered the trade to grab Montez Sweat later in the first round.
Here's the thing - Smith is not technically Washington's general manager. He basically is but doesn't have that title.
Ron Rivera is the boss, he's the deciding vote, but plenty of teams with coach-centric philosophies have a GM.
The Seahawks have Pete Carroll, but they also have John Schneider.
The Chiefs have Andy Reid, but they also have Brett Veach.
After the draft in April, and after trading Trent Williams and Quinton Dunbar, Rivera said that making Smith the GM was actually team owner Dan Snyder's call.
"[Snyder] has the ultimate say in the organization if it comes down to things like this," Rivera said. "That's a little bit above me."
Well, here's where the problem could come.
If Smith isn't named GM soon, it's entirely possible other teams might ask to interview him for that role.
If Smith is the GM, Washington can say no to other interview requests. But if Smith stays at his current title of Vice President of Player Personnel, the team can't stop him from interviewing for a promotion from another club.
This is America, people deserve to move up, even if it means moving organizations.
Washington shouldn't let that happen.
Around the NFL, Smith has a sharp reputation as a talent evaluator and as somebody that speaks his mind.
Only 36, Smith has been in the Washington organization since 2010. He started as an intern, then became a full-time scout, then was promoted to Director of College Personnel in 2017 and his current VP role earlier this year.
Sure, it probably helped that he's A.J. Smith's son, the long-time NFL personnel executive that briefly held a consultant role in Washington, but nobody would suggest that Smith hasn't earned his success.
Ask around the league. He's respected and his track record shows a keen eye for talent.
Let's be honest too - Snyder has a lot of other things going on right now, and naming Smith GM (with probably a sizable pay bump) might not be at the top of the list.
Washington dropped its 90-year old nickname this summer, 40 percent of the team is up for sale in a very acrimonious legal battle, and there's an ongoing NFL investigation into a culture of sexual harassment inside the Washington team during Snyder's tenure.
Plus for the first half of the season, the rest of the league might not have noticed Smith's work. Washington opened 1-5 and looked like a mismatched outfit.
Football seasons are funny beasts though; living, breathing organisms that change, morph and evolve during the course of four months.
Now, Smith's team is hot, winners of three straight and fighting for a playoff spot.
People are paying attention to what Washington is doing, and while Rivera and the players deserve a ton of credit, the league will start looking behind the curtain a bit too.
Who's there? Kyle Smith.
A 36-year-old with 10 years of experience, a track record of draft success, one season of free agency success and a very bright future in front of him.
Sounds like a great GM candidate.