Alex Smith finished the Week 2 loss to the Indianapolis Colts by averaging 6.3 yards-per-pass attempt on 33 completions. Those numbers aren't particularly good, and while they're not bad either, it clearly did not produce enough opportunities for points in the home opener.
The Colts defense had a lot to do with that too. Indianapolis deployed a soft zone coverage system, forcing the Washington Redskins to look underneath for short gains and eschewing many chances at deep shots down the field.
That's fine when the team is able to run the ball well, like the dominant Week 1 win in Arizona. But when Washington can't run the ball, like the embarassing Week 2, the short passing game looks too conservative.
"I mean I think every guy on the team, certainly every guy on offense went through the game and what plays could I have done differently to help us," Smith said Wedneday. "Could I have taken a shot here? You know, all week we talked about being patient. The way they play defense, be patient. Let the shots present themselves."
The shots rarely presented themselves.
Smith did put two passes in positions for chunk gains, but Josh Doctson was unable to bring in a deep ball on the sideline, and later in the game, Paul Richardson could not corral a big gain over the middle. Neither drop was devestating, but a catch in either situation could have turned momentum in the game.
Prior to 2017, Smith had a reputation as a quarterback that rarely went down the field. Last season, he disproved that with his best ever statistical campaign and a number of highlight reel plays down the field in the Kansas City offense.
Redskins fans are starting to wonder if they got the 2017 version of Smith, or the earlier version.
Truth is the sample size is much too small to determine that answer. In Week 1, Smith didn't need to air the ball out. In fact, he still tried, barely missing a deep completion to Richardson on a play flagged because the receiver was held.
There are other factors too. The offensive line had a poor performance in Week 2, and Richardson played the game dealing with a shoulder injury.
Still, there were times it seemed Smith had chances down the field he didn't take, instead opting for the safer check-down pass.
Running back Chris Thompson finished the game with 13 catches but for just 92 yards. Much of that production came late in the second half when the Colts had taken a substantial lead.
"In the second half, very apparent, I mean they were not going to let anything get over their head or get behind them. It was so soft. Hence, a lot of the underneath stuff was open," Smith said.
What version of Smith will show up Sunday against Green Bay?
Much of that will have to do with the offensive line and Jay Gruden's game plan. But plenty will be determined by Smith too.
The veteran QB does not turn the ball over, which is a big bonus. The Redskins need points though if they're going to keep up with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
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