Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera named Kyle Allen as the starting quarterback on Wednesday, citing his understanding of the offensive system and the current divisional race as the main reasons for the change.
The promotion of Allen also led to a change on the depth chart for Alex Smith, who is now the backup and one Allen injury away from playing once again, completing a remarkable recovery from a knee injury that nearly cost him his life. Dwayne Haskins has been demoted to third-string for the time being.
While Week 5 might seem too early to make a switch at the game's most important position, ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio believes that Wednesday's shakeup might not be the last of the changes at quarterback in Washington, either.
"I feel like this Kyle Allen thing is very temporary," Florio said on ProFootballTalk Live. "I'm going to put the over-under at 1.5 games. He was 30th in passer rating last year. He played 13 games. He was tied for fourth with 16 interceptions despite only playing those 13 games."
If Allen does struggle, which Florio expects him to, who will replace him: Smith or Haskins?
"I think we're going to see Alex Smith," Florio said.
The analyst then went on the explain that by moving Smith to the backup, he gets the opportunity to take a few more reps during practice, moving one step closer to his return.
Once the team feels confident that Smith can return to live-action and do so while protecting himself, Florio believes Washington will be ready to make the switch.
"They want to put Alex Smith in uniform, put him through the paces in practice for a week or two as the backup before they make him the starter. I think their preference, deep down, would be to go straight to Alex Smith," Florio said.
"This is just my guess, but they want that one more piece of evidence to make them believe we put him out on the field, he's going to be able to protect himself, he's not going to have a serious injury like the one he had a couple of years ago."
Part of the reason Haskins was benched was that he had repeated mistakes, according to Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner. Allen has had turnover issues in his brief NFL career. Smith, however, is not a quarterback that makes the same mistake twice and has made a name for himself by taking great care of the football.
Chris Simms, a co-host on ProFootballTalk Live, was in agreement with Florio, saying Smith is the best option at quarterback for what Rivera and Turner are trying to accomplish on offense.
"Alex Smith seems like the perfect quarterback for this team," Simms said. "He is a guy that's going to take care of the ball, He'll play through the defense and what the bigger picture of what the team is."
A move from Allen to Smith would emphasize a point Rivera made on Wednesday about chasing "short-term glory." After all, Smith is 36 years old. Washington has a young roster, and Smith's career timeline does not match up with the rest of the team's rebuild.
The 2020 season was expected to be one where Washington finds out if Haskins (or now Allen) is the long-term answer at quarterback. The team has not had stability at the position for decades. Trotting out Smith would accomplish neither of those.
But, there are 50 other players on Washington's roster that don't care about the long-term future at quarterback; they want to win now. Four games into the 2020 season, Rivera sees that frustration from the rest of his team.
So, the head coach will play the quarterback who he feels gives the team the best chance to win, whether that be Allen, Smith, or maybe even Haskins once again down the line. When a division title is possible, the expected developmental year is thrown out the window. Rivera has made that much clear.
What once seemed impossible might turn into reality in just a few weeks; Alex Smith could play in an actual NFL game once again.