(UPDATE: Smith later suffered a horrific leg injury, information below. Obviously analysis of his play is less important.)
Alex Smith was long the poster-boy for NFL analysts who valued “protecting the ball” and “game management” over the ability to, you know, throw the ball hard, far, and on target. That’s not to say Smith was or is a bad player, just that a certain kind of NFL mindset is how you get Alex Smith going first overall in the same draft that saw Aaron Rodgers slide to #24.
Anyway, Smith is now in Washington, having been bumped by the revelatory Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City. Smith has done Smith things in Washington, as the team is on top of a weird NFC East at 6-3 while Smith has 10 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and a 6.8 yards per attempt rate, which put him 29th in the league entering today.
The problem with that style of quarterback play in 2018 is a greatly reduced margin of error; when you don’t have the ability to make up big deficits like Rodgers or Mahomes or Brady, you can’t afford to fall behind by much, you have to take advantage of red zone trips, and you definitely can’t afford to make many mistakes. Here’s Smith today failing on all three counts with one ill-advised, looping pass into the end zone:
🚨 101-YARD PICK-6 ALERT 🚨@jreid_viii!!
— NFL (@NFL) November 18, 2018
There are some fun moments there, including Smith chasing after Justin Reid while wildly pumping his arms, but Jordan Reed’s complete lack of interest in pursuing the play might be the highlight.
Again, Smith is nowhere close to the worst NFL quarterback, but when your entire brand is smart, safe production, plays like this really stand out.
UPDATE: There’s a video at the end, if you’re at all squeamish about injuries don’t watch it.
Alex’s leg is exactly like mine 33 yrs ago
— Joe Theismann (@Theismann7) November 18, 2018
Both entire teams coming out for Alex Smith. His diary is done. pic.twitter.com/RCowETiu36
— Julie Donaldson (@JDonaldsonNBCS) November 18, 2018
Very graphic video here. Like, seriously, think about maybe not watching it:
Alex Smith tib/fib fracture? Yikes his seasons done! pic.twitter.com/KQVwf7o3sb
— Robby Bissett (@RobbyBissett19) November 18, 2018