BY DUSTIN BREWER
Alex Smith made a triumphant return to the field last Sunday after QB Kyle Allen was knocked out with a shoulder injury in the first half. After the game, Washington coach Ron Rivera said that if healthy, Allen would continue to be the starter. Dustin takes a look at Smith’s return, the ferocious Rams defense, and what it means that he won’t be given the chance to start.
693 days after a brutal leg injury knocked him off the field, 17 surgeries to help save his leg, and a nasty life-threatening infection later, Alex Smith ran back onto FedEx Field as QB for the Washington Football Team. The only thing missing from the triumphant moment was a stadium full of fans but it’s hard to not be happy to see Smith overcome so many setbacks & obstacles but you have to feel bad that it’s a Washington team in disarray that he came back to.
Once Smith got onto the field, the good vibes basically stopped and were replaced with two hours of watching Smith get pressured & hit nonstop by Aaron Donald & the Rams defense. To add to the already uneasy feelings of the viewers, cameras fixed on Smith’s family in the stands continued to cut to his wife’s reactions to watching her husband get pressured & hit by arguably the biggest, strongest, toughest defensive player in football.
The Washington QB room is one that is dire to say the least, previous starter Dwayne Haskins was unceremoniously benched for Kyle Allen last week, likely ending Haskins’ stint with Washington after one and a half years and three coaches in that span.
After the team’s 30-10 loss to the Rams, Rivera minced no words in saying “He’s our starter” if healthy, when asked about Kyle Allen’s status for next Sunday. Allen worked with Rivera last season in Carolina and has familiarity with the offense Washington is attempting to run so there is a justification, it’s just the methods of reaching that conclusion that don’t sit too well with me.
In relief of Allen vs. the Rams, Alex Smith was sacked six times and hit countless more times on account of the team’s less than stellar offensive line play (in total the Rams ended the game with eight sacks). Rivera said after the game that Kyle Allen was medically cleared to return but that he opted to hold him out in the name of caution.
If that’s the case, then Rivera & the organization need to be embarrassed. Haskins was demoted to third string and wasn’t even at the stadium on Sunday. So once Allen went down, Rivera knew he was turning to a 36-year old QB who hadn’t played in almost 700 days and had no idea how his body would respond to live game action. It’s an impossible situation to navigate but by writing Haskins off so quickly, the coaching staff has kind of forced their own hand here.
For his part, Smith stayed the course with his positivity and said all the right things when asked about Allen continuing to be the starter.
“He played great. He played decisive, quick,” Smith said of Allen. “I was bummed for him, I was excited for his opportunity. He’s a good kid, works really hard and obviously this is out of our control, so whatever coach decides he goes with. That’s his job. Whatever this team needs me to do, I’ll do.”– Alex Smith via ESPN
To some on the outside looking in, it looks like Washington is saying “Hey Alex, our line is bad and Allen’s a little dinged up, you wanna test that leg out by running from Aaron Donald for the next two hours?” Which, that’s the nature of the game but to say you trust Smith enough to be punished by a defense but not as a starter when Allen hadn’t exactly been setting the world on fire up until his exit Sunday, suggests that the Alex Smith story is nothing more to the team than a bit of positive PR after months of stories exposing how toxic & terrible the organization has been for decades.
That Alex Smith was able to return to play football at all is an incredible feat that will likely inspire millions to overcome obstacles & adversity in their lives. But if the team continues to throw him in unfavorable situations for the sake of generating some social media buzz without ever being dedicated to giving him a full shot with the team, it won’t be long until they have another self-made mess on their hands.