In Quarterback-Mad League, Alex Smith Was a Sane Move For Washington

After messing up their chance to lock starting quarterback Kirk Cousins into a long-term contract, the Redskins pivoted and acquired Alex Smith from the Chiefs.

The Redskins should have paid Cousins. Yes. Agreed. Absolutely.  But they didn’t.

So what did you expect Washington to do? Nothing?

Once it became clear that Cousins was determined to go for his free-agent bonanza, and land an absurdly enormous contract,  the Redskins had to fill the void. I guess owner Dan Snyder and GM Bruce Allen could have gone on a long vacation … but it was probably better to find a QB.

As part of the transaction, Smith and the Redskins agreed to a four-year contract worth $94 million … and it includes a massive guarantee of $71 million.

Whoa.

Why in the hell would the Redskins do that?

Well, two reasons:

1. Smith is good. He’s often very good. Not as good as Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. But good. With Smith in Kansas City for five seasons (2013-2017) the Chiefs had a 50-26 record in his starts. He had a 97.2 passer rating, ranking seventh in the NFL over the five seasons. His touchdown-interception ratio was third-best among NFL starters. He also ranked third with a 67 percent completion rate. Smith, 33, is four years older than Cousins. But they’re similar in ability. I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me why Cousins is viewed as the next John Unitas … the dude is 24-23-1 as an NFL starter, has made the playoffs one time, and lost his only postseason test by playing a mediocre game against Green Bay … but I digress.

What’s that? Oh, you’re ripping Alex Smith for being 1-4 in the postseason during the KC years. I see.  The 1-4 postseason record is accurate. But I will pass on blaming Smith. In the five postseason contests he completed 65 percent of his throws, averaged 312 passing yards, struck for 9 touchdowns with only 2 interceptions and had a passer rating of 96.0. With the Chiefs, Smith’s third-down postseason passer rating was 106.5 … and he was even better (108.2) in the red zone. When competing in a postseason game that’s close in the fourth quarter (7 points or less), Smith’s passer rating was 82.5. That isn’t great. But it was close to the league average for those situations … and it’s not like I’m saying Smith stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Roger Staubach in delivering fourth-quarter heroics. In Smith’s five playoff starts the Chiefs averaged 26.4 points per game. The overall NFL average for individual teams in postseason games from 2013 through this season was 23 points.

Did you ever see that  big guy on the KC  sideline calling the plays and directing the action? Might want to look at Coach Andy Reid’s sorry history of game-mismanagement issues in the postseason games before making Smith the scapegoat.

2. Sam Bradford. Yes, Sam Bradford. Why am I bringing up Bradford and throwing him into the discussion? Because if you really want to know why the Redskins were fine with acquiring Smith and giving him a sweet contract … just think about Bradford.

He’s been in the league for seven seasons with the Rams, Eagles and Vikings. He’s started 80 games, and missed 48 games with injuries. He has never been voted into the Pro Bowl. He’s never led his team into the playoffs. Which means he’s never appeared in the playoffs, or won a playoff game. He has a career passer rating of 85.1 that’s below the league average (86.3) since 2010.

Bradford’s record as an NFL starter is 34-45-1.

Here’s the kicker: Bradford has been paid $114 million for his average play … when he can play … because you never know when the next injury will put him out.

And after starting only two games for Minnesota  — before suffering another knee injury — Bradford is bound for free agency.  And you know how that will turn out.

Another humongous contract for a quarterback who has won 34 games as an NFL starter .

Which, based on what Bradford has been paid so far, comes to an average of just under $3.4 million per victory.

NFL decision-makers are absolutely dented in the brain when it comes to evaluating quarterbacks.

So if you don’t acquire Alex Smith, and get him signed, and give your team solid quarterback stability for the next four seasons — or until you can draft and develop a quarterback — then what’s the alternative?

Call the Bears and see what it would take to acquire Mike Glennon?

Speed dial Blaine Gabbert’s agent?

Getting into a bidding battle with another team for Brock Osweiler?

Make another stupid trade to move up in the draft — as the Redskins did to select Robert Griffin III at No. 2 overall in 2012

Have Redskins executives get down on their knees and beg Sam Bradford to take their money?

Alex Smith isn’t overpaid.

Sam Bradford   is overpaid.

I don’t have enough time to list all of the overpaid QBs. The NFL has a quarterback problem: there ain’t enough of them.

So when you see the many horrific quarterback investments around the league…

And you start to become dizzy, then violently ill…

And you take a look at Alex Smith …

And you do a comparison …

The idea of becoming the next dunce to throw money away on Sam Bradford … well, that makes Alex Smith look like a Canton-bound Hall of Famer.

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie

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