When former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer looks at the two quarterbacks he knows the best on the Redskins - veteran Alex Smith and Dwyane Haskins, who is heading into his second year in the league - he sees a lot of similarities in their career trajectory.
Smith, who Meyer coached at the University of Utah, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. He joined a very poor 49ers team and struggled as a result. San Francisco didn't make the playoffs until 2012, Smith's seventh year with the team. Haskins, meanwhile, spent his first year at the helm of a struggling Redskins team that fired its head coach during the season.
To Meyer, the criticism of Haskins sounded familiar.
"When you take a kid like Alex Smith and you put him in just a terrible team, and [people say] 'Alex can't play in the NFL,'" Meyer said in an interview with NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay. "That's bizarre to me that a quarterback will be held accountable because he's on a really, really bad team."
Although it's been over 15 years since the two were together at Utah, Meyer still views his former quarterback in high regard. Now, he thinks Smith's experience can help Haskins turn into a solid NFL signal-caller, too.
"I think Alex Smith is one of the finest players people I've ever been around. He's brilliant. He's so mature," Meyer said. "He's still one of the best I've ever been around. So I think I think they should utilize his skill to help Dwayne, and I hope Dwayne takes it."
The former coach attributed much of the Haskins' struggles as a rookie to the lack of talent around him.
"I tell you what, you put Dwayne Haskins around a great team, he'll be a great player," Meyer said. "I've been saying that."
Entering the 2019 season, the Redskins lacked any significant weapons on offense besides a then-34-year-old Adrian Peterson. Rookie wideout Terry McLaurin's emergence was an unexpected pleasant surprise for the Redskins, as he led the team with 919 receiving yards and seven TDs. But outside of him, Washington struggled to find someone else to consistently make plays.
"For some reason in the NFL when a team struggles it's all the quarterback's fault, or the quarterback's inability to adapt to the pro offense," Meyer said. "I think a lot of that is nonsense. So to think that a rookie quarterback that had one year [of college] experience is ready to come in and tear the NFL part on a bad team you know ... the reality is they we're not a good team."
Meyer's comments echo those he made recently about Haskins. Just last week, he said in an interview on FS1 that in order for Haskins to be a great quarterback, the Redskins need to surround him with talent.
"Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, the best quarterbacks in the league, there are a couple of things they have in common," Meyer said. "Most importantly, they're on a really good team with good chemistry and good alignment and good culture. Those are things that I never hear people talk about. Go surround him with an elite culture and an elite team and see how he does."
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