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This part of the Alex Smith equation, while small, should not be overlooked

This part of the Alex Smith equation, while small, should not be overlooked

The most critical part of the Alex Smith equation and the part of the Alex Smith equation that makes up the center of this story are not the same.

The most critical part — of course, obviously, duh — is Smith getting healthy enough to move off of the PUP list and onto the field. Then, after that, he'll have to build up the confidence in his leg once again and reacquaint himself with an NFL pocket and all the trouble that can occur inside of one.

Are either of those things a given? Nope. It's remarkable that he's made it this far in his recovery from that November 2018 broken leg and subsequent infection, but he's still not all the way back, both practically or mentally. His journey to the huddle is still unfinished.

IF he's able to finish it, however — and, one last time, it's necessary to point out the IF designation — there is another hurdle that Smith will need to overcome to shine in what Ron Rivera is calling a "pure competition" at quarterback. It's a hurdle not many have brought up yet, too.

He's going to have to learn a whole new offense.

Some out there believe that a 100-percent Smith would immediately become the best option for the 2020 Washington Football Team over Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen. But those people are forgetting that Smith, just like Haskins, would be dealing with an unfamiliar staff and a system he hasn't worked in at all up to this point.

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That didn't exactly go well for Smith when he was starting in 2018 and simultaneously trying to master Jay Gruden's playbook.

The injury against the Texans is certainly the standout moment from Smith's debut season with the Burgundy and Gold, but before that incident, he was having serious issues producing under center. Yes, the franchise was winning — Bruce Allen might even have a tattoo of their 6-3 record somewhere on his body because he loved it so much — though that success wasn't because Smith was lighting it up constantly.

In his nine full contests, Smith topped 300 passing yards just once (in a blowout loss versus the Falcons) and fell under the 200-yard mark in four matchups. The narrative during his and Gruden's press conferences was that a missed throw here or there got in the way of progress and a breakthrough was coming — and then they'd say the same thing at the podium in their next time up when they were proven wrong.

So, should Smith ever truly enter a QB race alongside Haskins and Allen, he'd not only have to get his legs under him following one of the worst injuries ever and a legitimately unbelieve rehab from that collision's consequences, but he'd also be forced to navigate Rivera and Scott Turner's scheme. 

That isn't to say Smith absolutely wouldn't be able to do so and eventually beat out the other two passers on the depth chart; he's a cerebral guy who's renowned for his intelligence. Yet it does feel like a relevant factor to highlight, considering how bumpy his last transition to a new offense and new set of targets went. 

Smith has a far bigger mountain to climb first in passing the football part of his physical, as Rivera put it on Monday. If Smith gets over that mountain, though, he'll face another hill before reaching his ultimate destination. The hill isn't as imposing as the mountain, but it'll still act as a barrier.

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Redspears or not these uniform designs are a great option for Washington

Redspears or not these uniform designs are a great option for Washington

When looking at the endless amounts of fan concepts and designs out there for the Washington Football Team's next name and logo, it's important to remember that not every idea belongs to the name suggestion of the designer. 

Once Washington makes its final decision, you can bet they'll be looking at a number of different options, and if they want to take a look at the fans' work, they could take a Red Wolves logo and match it up with a Red Tails uniform concept and tweak both to match whatever name they choose. 

In that case, whatever name and logo they choose should have these uniforms, plain and simple. 

 

Mike Joseph created these uniforms as part of his Washington Redspears project and did an exceptional job mocking up a number of different modern uniform designs.

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Redspears isn't a likely name change due to reports saying the franchise plans to stay away from Native American imagery, but that doesn't mean we should ignore these designs.

 

These use the burgundy and gold really well and have a unique number font that has worked for NFL teams like the Ravens, Broncos, Bears, Titans and Steelers in the past. 

The great part about this design is it could be easily rebranded to a different. All the franchise would have to do is lose the spear logo and use whatever logo they settle upon. They could even keep the numbers on the helmet as they have currently. Everything else is versatile. 

Between the sleek design, use of colors and the unique number fonts, this has to be one of, if not the best fan-generated uniform mock-up out there. If the Washington Football team uses these but with a different team name and logo, it'd be hard to complain about that decision. 

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Recent numbers indicate just how hard it could be for Antonio Gandy-Golden to help as a rookie

Recent numbers indicate just how hard it could be for Antonio Gandy-Golden to help as a rookie

There were already some decent expectations placed on Antonio Gandy-Golden for 2020 — and then Kelvin Harmon went down. Now, the Day 3 selection is being labeled as someone who needs to really contribute to the Washington Football Team.

But is that too much to ask for a rookie who went on Saturday in the draft? Recent numbers indicate that answer may be yes.

From 2015 to 2019, 25 wide receivers were chosen in the fourth round, which is where Washington nabbed Gandy-Golden a few months ago. Here are some takeaways from looking back on how all of those guys performed in their first professional seasons:

  • Only one target topped 50 catches and 600 yards, and coincidentally enough, it was Jamison Crowder. Crowder caught 59 passes for 604 yards and two scores as a rookie for the Burgundy and Gold in 2015. The only other guy who came close to either of those marks was Antonio Callaway, who had 43 grabs for 586 yards and five touchdowns for Cleveland in 2018. Those are easily the two best performances by a fourth-round rookie wideout since 2015, so keep that in mind when discussing Gandy-Golden.
  • Out of that group of 25, 15 suited up for double-digit games for their teams during their first taste of the league. The average stat line for those 15 rookies was 17 receptions for 182 yards and one touchdown in about 14 contests. That's meager. 
  • Just nine out of the 25 recorded a touchdown catch as a rookie, and only four (Crowder, Callaway, DaeSean Hamilton and Malcom Mitchell) visited the end zone multiple times.

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So, judging solely off of that data, it would appear that Washington shouldn't be prepared to lean heavily Gandy-Golden. And once you combine that history with other factors, such as the huge transition he's about to make from Libery to the NFL and the very limited offseason he's had thus far, then the outlook for Gandy-Golden becomes even dimmer.

There is a super simple counter argument, however, at least when it comes to comparing him to his past fourth-round peers, and it has to do with his potential playing time.

While the 22-year-old has to fight through a pandemic, something none of the above rookies can relate to and something that could be detrimental to his early career, he also may be in line for a massive share of snaps right away. Most players who go off the board where Gandy-Golden did are usually worried about simply making the team; he, on the other hand, very well could be a starter across from Terry McLaurin in Week 1.

That alone means Gandy-Golden could end up having enough involvement in the offense to come up with a Crowder-like, impactful debut. In 2019, McLaurin far surpassed other third-round rookie receivers due largely to the amount of opportunity he got with Washington (his ridiculous talent was a bonus of course, too). Gandy-Golden is tracking on a similar path. 

A fairly general rule for any franchise is that it's not exactly prudent to need a Day 3 pass catcher to immediately act as one of your primary weapons. Stats from 2015 to 2019 seem to back up that general rule.

Every rule has an exception here or there, though. Maybe Gandy-Golden, with his outstanding physical traits and possibly featured role in 2020, will be that next exception and make all this math and comparing a totally moot issue. 

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