On Monday, Rivera said Smith could “possibly” be seen as a long-term response to the Washington quarterback.
“It’s something that we as coaches and the organization definitely need to talk about if he continues to play at this level,” said Rivera.If nothing else, however, Rivera said Smith has proven a point.
“He’s back as a player,” he said.
With seven games remaining, Washington has a lot to analyze and discuss the work of the starting quarterback. Dwayne Haskins opened the season as a starter but was benched after four games. Kyle Allen replaced him, but broke his ankle in a Week 9 loss to the New York Giants. This provided Smith with an opening.
The reality is that Smith is 36 and would be counting $ 23.3 million against the salary cap in 2021. That’s not a bad sum for a starting NFL quarterback, but it will factor in Washington’s decision. .
“You have to watch how long you think he can play, how long does he want to play? Rivera said.
At the end of August, it was questionable whether Smith would even be on the 53-player roster. In the week leading up to the final cuts, Smith lobbied hard in two different meetings with coaches to stay on the active roster and not be placed on the injured reserve. It would have ended his season. But his argument to the coaches was simple: he is not injured.
Coaches found it helpful to keep Smith around, hoping he would serve as an example due to his work ethic and inspiration due to what he overcame – the 17 surgeries and the near-amputation of his right leg.
Lately, however, Smith has contributed to his performance. There have been holes – he threw three interceptions two weeks ago against the New York Giants. And he only has one touchdown pass in 104 attempts this season.
In addition, Washington is expected to closely monitor college quarters for possible long-term solutions. Rivera said he didn’t rule out Haskins either. But they would need to see a change in his approach – and then see it reflected on the ground – for him to fully resume the discussion.
Smith has played three games this season. In a relief appearance against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 5, Smith was under great pressure and struggled to move the ball. He completed 9 of 17 passes for 37 yards. But in nearly three-quarters of the game to relieve Allen against the Giants, Smith threw for 315 yards as Washington tried to rally after a 17-point deficit. Two late interceptions from Smith dashed those hopes.
But Smith has also shown that he can be decisive – and that his leg can withstand punches often. After being sacked six times against the Rams, he has been sacked four times in the last two games.
“That was the scary part, that’s how normal it was [Sunday] Smith said. I have to pinch myself for how lucky I am to feel this. I have the chance to progress this far and to be where I am. ”
A week ago, Rivera was asked if Washington’s roster contained his future quarterback. “Well that’s the question we have to answer as coaches,” Rivera said. “Is our franchise quarterback here?” Is he on the list? Is it under development, or is it somewhere else? Again, we’ll continue to go through it, review it, evaluate it, and see exactly where we are. ”
Either way, Smith has helped a young offensive team – Washington has five talented players in their first, second or third seasons playing key roles. The only third-year player Cam Sims has 13 career receptions – 11 this season. Of Smith’s 71 accomplishments this season, 43 have achieved one of those goals.
“It’s a young group,” Rivera said. “The only way for them to improve is to have the chance to learn and grow. Alex did a good job distributing the ball. ”
Smith said, “There’s so much youth and energy and personality, it’s fun to see these guys doing plays. As an old man, it’s contagious and I love it. ”
Undrafted rookie wide receiver Isaiah Wright said Smith constantly communicates with the young exits – in practice and during games. It also helps that he sees every look imaginable and can work on his progressions at a faster pace. Rivera said it helps to let wide-spread youngsters know that they have to go their way correctly because the ball could get to them.
“Being young, sometimes things move fast and I can’t slow down the game on my own,” Wright said. “I can count on Alex to slow the game down.… These are subtle conversations or help me out by telling me exactly what the game is so I don’t have to think and think and [he’ll give] suggestions and pointers and pull me aside. It helps to slow down because I’m not nervous. ”
As Rivera said, Smith can do more to help the offense. It has already turned into a pleasant story because of the comeback; Washington must decide if it can become more than just a wellness story. Rivera said he didn’t want to get caught up in the emotion of Smith’s story as he envisioned the future.
“You judge him by his performance,” Rivera said. “You don’t get caught up in his story, you don’t get caught up in his age. Now when you talk about moving forward, now you talk about these other things. “