Jay Gruden didn't want to compare his former quarterback to his new one, until he did.
When asked by reporters during breakfast at the owners meetings if the Redskins were a better team now after trading for Alex Smith, Gruden was pretty honest with his response.
"Yeah, without a doubt," Gruden said to a group of media members at the annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. "I don't want to compare two players, but we're always trying to be better at every position. We got better. Alex's experience is well-noted, and his record the last five years is what it is. You could argue that all day, but we feel very good."
It's not the fact that he's praising Smith that stood out. That's expected after such a high profile move for such an important position.
It was the fact that Gruden phrased it so definitively when comparing Smith to Kirk Cousins.
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The Redskins let Cousins go in free agency after they traded a third-round pick and corner Kendall Fuller to the Chiefs for Smith, after a never-ending "will he or won't he sign long-term" roller coaster that started in 2015.
Yes, this will always be a topic that runs the risk of being read into a little more than it should.
Any quote from Gruden involving his former quarterback will be looked at from more angles than are likely necessary, but it comes with the territory.
Gruden and the Redskins are quick to point out Smith's success in Kansas City -- the Chiefs were 50-26 with him as the starter -- but he's also just 2-5 in the playoffs.
Smith's now former coach Andy Reid had a similar sentiment at the NFL's annual coach's breakfast as well.
“He has had a lot of different coordinators, so he has experienced a lot of different offenses,” Reid said of Smith to reporters. “I think there is still room to grow, and he’s wired that way to where he wants to get better every day and you love that part of him.”
Whether fans want to admit it or not, the comparisons between Smith and Cousins will only continue.
In the end though, if Smith can bring sustained success to Washington, success that includes playoff wins, the phrase "Kirk Cousins' contract" will fade farther and farther into the mist of Redskins' history.