Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, May 8, three days before the Washington Redskins hold their rookie minicamp.
Is Alex Smith better than previous 34-year-old quarterback acquisitions?
For the third time since 2004, the Redskins have traded for a 34-year-old quarterback to be their starter.
In 2004, one of the first moves Joe Gibbs made in his return to coaching was to deal for Mark Brunell, a 10-year veteran who had led the Jaguars to two AFC championship games. He turned 34 just after the 2004 season started.
Six years later, Mike Shanahan was the coach and the Redskins traded for Donovan McNabb of the Eagles. He had spent 11 years with the Eagles, getting named to six Pro Bowls and leading the Eagles to five NFC title games and one Super Bowl appearance. He turned 34 around midseason in 2010.
And earlier this year, the trade target was Alex Smith, who turned 34 yesterday. He has been in the league for 14 years, nine with the 49ers. Smith got San Francisco to one NFC title game.
McNabb was a bust in Washington. Shanahan benched him 13 games into his one and only season with the Redskins and traded him away the following offseason. Brunell had one good year, passing for over 3,000 yards and 23 touchdowns as the Redskins made the playoffs. But the Redskins traded to draft Jason Campbell the next year and Brunell was gone after the 2006 season.
So, how will Smith do? At first glance, they are close in career accomplishments. What do the numbers say? At first, I thought about looking at career numbers but since the NFL is a “what have you done lately” business, looking at the two years prior to being traded to Washington made more sense. There they are, via the indispensable Pro Football Reference:
Note: To get complete stats on the quarterbacks and explanations of the stat categories, go here.
It should be noted that Brunell played in 12 fewer games than the other two as he was benched in favor of first-round pick Byron Leftwich at halftime of the third game of the 2003 season. So, it makes more sense to compare the rate stats.
Smith’s numbers are better than those of the other two pretty much across the board. He had big advantages in completion percentage and passer rating and smaller but still significant edges in yards per attempt and adjusted net yards per attempt.
Taking a subjective look, I believe that Smith is in better shape physically at 34 than were Brunell and McNabb. Both of them seem to have lost some strength in their arms and spring in their steps. All three were good a scrambling in their primes but in the two seasons before being traded to Washington, Smith had nearly 500 yards rushing while Brunell and McNabb had 287 and 226, respectively.
Based on these numbers, Redskins fans should be at least moderately more confident that Smith has more left in the tank than did the other two. But there are no guarantees. You never really know how most players are going to perform from year to year and going to a new team adds to the uncertainty.
Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.
Tandler on Twitter
Poll: Alex Smith turns 34 today. For how many years will he be the #Redskins' starting quarterback?— Rich Tandler (@TandlerNBCS) May 7, 2018
Redskins defensive end Anthony Lanier was born on this date in 1993.
—Rookie minicamp (5/11) 3
—OTAs start (5/22) 14
—Training camp starts (7/26) 79
The Redskins last played a game 128 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 124 days.
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